January 30, 2012
High River Hospital - Breech delivery

Nick and I first found out that we were expecting a baby on the May long weekend 2011. We were very excited, a little frightened, but mostly curious to know what changes this baby would bring.

In the beginning of my pregnancy I expected that we would go to the hospital in true Hollywood style. Me yelling, Nick driving really fast, and when we got there, I would get an epidural or have a c-section and then go home with a new bundle to love. I was wrong.

As my pregnancy progressed I started to read Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth. It started as a way for me to learn about pregnancy and childbirth. It ended as a 9-month mission to learn as much as I could about the benefits of natural childbirth. Around 14 weeks I had learnt enough to know that I not only wanted, but also needed a midwife. My hunt began, I put in applications to every midwife clinic in Calgary and surrounding area, only to be put on every waiting list there was. I desperately wanted a natural home birth. I started interval training at my gym to prepare for labour. I went to spin and circuit classes to ‘train’ for childbirth. And I followed up with every midwife clinic once a week. At 22 weeks I got a call from the Birth Partnership and they agreed to take me as a patient.

My pregnancy started out really healthy; I had no complications, no pregnancy sickness, really no complaints (sorry ladies)! My 18-week ultrasound confirmed that they baby was developing normally, and was head down.  At every appointment my midwives would check the babies position and they confirmed baby was head down, and in a good position to be born. We just had to wait. Then at 35 weeks, my midwife discovered that the baby had turned; she suspected the baby was in a ‘frank’ breech position and ordered an ultrasound, which confirmed her diagnosis.

Our first reaction to the breech was that everything would just work its self out. My pregnancy had been healthy and relatively uneventful so it seemed like there was no immediate cause for concern. I started seeing an acupuncturist and tried a moxibustion technique. I had my chiropractor try the ‘Webster’s technique’, I imagined the baby head down. I even recorded Nick and my voices and would play it low on my stomach in the hopes of turning the baby. Nothing was working. I started to loss hope that I’d have a natural home delivery. The midwives started to prepare us for the event that the baby may not turn and, I may end up with a c-section.  By this stage, that seemed like the worst-case scenario and not something I was prepared to sign up for.

I booked my first ECV (External cephalic version) at the foothills. We discussed the procedure with our midwives and I emailed Sue from Healthy Birth Choices to get her advise on the procedure as it doesn’t come without risks. We decided to go ahead with the ECV and hope for the best. The procedure was unsuccessful. The foothills wanted us to book a c-section for the following week. We asked if we could try the ECV a second time instead of the c-section. Reluctantly the doctor agreed to one more ECV. I was 38 weeks pregnant at the time and the hospital would only let me carry to 39 weeks before they would do a c-section. When the second ECV failed I was sure I’d be heading in for surgery the following day.

Luckily, my midwife knew Dr. Bailey.  Nick and I met Dr. Bailey just before my 40th week of gestation. We discussed the risks / benefits of a vaginal breech birth. Dr. Bailey was extremely honest with us about the risk of both vaginal breech deliveries and c-sections. She made it very clear that the conditions had to be optimal for a vaginal breech delivery. She advised that I could only go 10 days past my due date, and I had to go into labour spontaneously, without induction, in order to have a ‘trial’ of labour and possible vaginal delivery. She also advised that if I did go into labour naturally, labour had to progress continuously and not stall. The other caveat was that once I was through transition, I had to wait 90 minutes before I could push, and the baby needed to come out in one push, and not a series of pushes with contractions.

We had been through our birth classes and I had a vision of what our birth would look like, although this plan was not what I envisions, I was so happy that Dr. Bailey was willing to work with us and not just book a c-section. We left her office on cloud nine!

40 weeks came and went, but we weren’t concerned. Nick and I joked that they baby would arrive at 40 weeks 8 days as we’d learnt in our classes with Sue.

At 40 weeks 7 days I couldn’t feel the baby move so we met our midwife at Rockyview Hospital for a non-stress test. The monitors indicated that everything was normal. My midwife asked if she could do an internal to see if anything was progressing. She found that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 85 % effaced. Excellent news!

We went home and laughed about how the baby would most likely show up the next day… 40 weeks 8 days. Sure enough at 1:41am on January 30th I woke up to my first official contractions.

I laid in bed for a while timing the contractions which were 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long, 30 seconds at the peak. I tried my best to stay in bed and rest, but at 3 am I woke Nick to let him know we might need to get going to the hospital. We both showered, Nick put on some coffee and started to pack up the car. I figured we had some time so I did my hair and make-up and took my time getting ready. After all I needed to look my best for pictures with our new baby! While, from all my preparations my labour staled and my contractions slowed to 7 minutes apart.

Reluctantly, Nick went back to bed and I continued to labour around the house. I had a bath, walked the stairs 2 at a time and listened to some music. By 6:30am I was hungry and had some oatmeal. It took me 45 minutes to eat, as my contractions started to come closer together and were getting more powerful. By the time I was done eating I was getting really tired and decided to try and sleep.

Nick was just getting up for the morning and asked how I was doing. I let him know that I was tired but my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. As soon as I lay down, I had three strong contractions back to back and my water broke. Nick helped me to the bathroom and called the midwives. They said they’d meet us in High River. It took us about 30 minutes to get out of the house, I was having a hard time getting dress and into the car. Nick helped get me in the car and had vitamin water there for me to drink on the way.

We arrived at the High River hospital at 8:30am, my midwife checked me, and I was 6.5 centimeters dilated. I was relieved to hear I was that far along and into active labour. I thought I might still be in early labour and I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the hard part.

Nick came into the room once he had me checked in and brought my birthing ball and ‘labour survival kit’. I’d packed massage balls, emergency energy drink, focal points, playlists, and electric candles. Turns out, the only thing I wish I’d packed were earplugs and a sleep mask! Once I was in active labour I really wanted the room to be dark and quiet. I had a hard time moving around and preferred to lie on the bed, working through my contractions by focusing internally.

Around 10:30 my midwives checked me at I was 8.5 centimeters and my labour was progressing perfectly for a vaginal breech birth. Transition was by far the hardest part of labour for me, I asked for an epidural, or any sort of pain relief the nurses could provide. My midwife was amazing though and reminded me of the reasons that I wanted to have a drug free birth, and, that what I was going through was normal. She reminded me that although the contractions hurt, they were not harming me. It helped me to keep my eye on the ball. There were a few moments that I was sure I’d never have a second child and thought that women who went through labour more than once were crazy. I feel differently now!

At 8.5 centimeters I was transferred to the labour and delivery room. My contractions were 2 minutes apart the whole time. I was impressed by how my body took care of me, I would actually fall asleep in the 2 minutes I had between each contraction. I felt as though my contractions were 30 minutes apart because of the deep sleep I would go into. At around 12:30pm I was fully dilated and I had the urge to push. I was surprised by how powerful the urge to push was. It took everything I had to not push with the contractions. I required a lot of coaching to get through the next 90 minutes, fighting my body and my instincts. Nick and the midwives helped me to breath through each contraction. To distract me, I was instructed to blow air through my lips like a horse. I’m sure it sounded ridiculous, but it worked.

Around 2:00pm I couldn’t stop my body from pushing no mater how hard I tried, I felt the babies bum crowning. The nurse called in Dr. Bailey and the room erupted into what Nick described as a ‘military operation’. The nurses set the bed upright and Dr. Bailey came in and let me know that with my next contraction I could push (finally) and that I had to keep pushing until the baby was completely out. Pushing was a relief, I was finally able to work with my body. As I pushed her out, Dr. Bailey turned her body to the left and removed her left leg, turned her again and removed her right leg; she did the same for her shoulders and then her head just popped out. On her way out she pooped & peed like a champion, which is apparently common in breech deliveries.

Dr. Bailey announced, “It’s a Girl” I was shocked, I was sure we were having a boy! She started crying and it was the best sound I have ever heard. They laid our baby girl on my chest and she started nursing about 5 minutes later. She camped out there for about 45 minutes and really hasn’t left since!

We’ve been blessed with our beautiful daughter, Claire. She came into the world in an unusual way, but thankfully we had an amazing team of people to guide us through our first childbirth experience.