You are here, you’re our daughter, and you entered the world very dramatically. We took you home from the hospital on May 23rd. I dressed you in your navy blue outfit with the tiny white elephants, and we drove home on a sunny early summer day. The world looked like a completely new place, like I had just been born as well.
Let’s just start by saying that nothing about how you entered this world went as your Father and I planned, except the fact that you are here and you are perfect. Your birth story really starts when I was about 34 weeks pregnant. We visited the midwife, who felt my belly and determined you were head down. I was so relieved, this was one less thing to worry about. I continued my prenatal yoga practice, and whole heartedly performed my deep squats and Goddess poses knowing your head was rooted in my pelvis.
On our next visit to the Birth Center, to our surprise, the midwife felt my belly and found you to be head up. She thought maybe you flipped, but I think you were head up all along. I’d been feeling a large bump in my ribs for weeks, and it was always a little to large, round and hard to be your butt. The midwife confirmed your position with an ultrasound. I was devastated, I immediately knew your breech position meant I wouldn’t be able to give birth at the Birth Center, and there was a good chance I’d need to have a scheduled c-section. My hopes for a natural birth were disappearing before my eyes. The midwife gave me a few resources for strategies for flipping breech babies, and we got started that day.
I started at home with the inversions, balancing head first off the couch and hanging up-side-down on your Grandfather’s inversion table. I visited the chiropractor multiple times a week, and saw the acupuncturist, who performed moxibustion. I wore a belly band at work to prevent you from slipping too deep into my pelvis, and to prevent a spasm of my round ligaments. I wore an ankle taping to strengthen my ankle ligaments in hopes of straightening out a twist in my pelvis. We saw an obstetrician who attempted a manual external version, which was very painful for me, and probably not awesome for you. Needless to say, we tried everything. Though I held out hope, and was boosted by stories of babies flipping the day of delivery, I started to believe that there was a reason for your position and I was trying to force something that was not meant to be.
During the weeks when we were trying to flip you, people started to mention Dr. Hartung. He was an OB out of Hudson that continued to practice the disappearing art of vaginal breech delivery. Many people in the birth community knew who he was, including the midwives, the chiropractors, and the folks at Blooma, my prenatal yoga center. I did some research, and made an appointment with him, knowing I needed to explore this option. He squeezed us in at the last minute when I was 38 weeks pregnant.
Having done the research, I knew there were a number of criteria we needed to meet in order to attempt a breech delivery. You needed to be frank breech, not too big, and have your head flexed in the right position. When these criteria were met, outcomes for vaginal delivery were the same as cesarean section for breech babies, despite lower initial Apgar scores. We saw Dr. Hartung, and discovered you met all these criteria, and we were good candidates for vaginal delivery.
Despite Dr. Hartung’s confidence, I continued to be unsure of the best way to deliver you. I believed strongly that I needed to go into labor spontaneously, and that the process of labor and delivery was very important to your health, and mine. There are risks with scheduled c-sections, but there were also risks with breech delivery. Everyone had an opinion, and I struggled with it until the day you were born, frustrated that the right choice didn’t reveal itself clearly. We made to choice to deliver you the old fashioned way, knowing we could change our minds at anytime. For the first time in weeks, I felt relief, knowing we had a plan. When I went into labor, we would deliver you with Dr. Hartung at Woodwinds Hospital, unless you flipped. In that case we would return to the Birth Center to deliver you there.
It was May 15th, my 32ndbirthday. Your Dad was at work, and I took myself to the salon to get one last pedicure before your arrival. As I was waiting for my toes to dry, a huge wave of nausea hit me. I thought maybe it was the nail salon fumes, but knew that this was also an early sign of labor. When it didn’t pass after a few minutes, I headed home to avoid barfing in public. I came home and threw up, this was the only time I threw up during my entire pregnancy. I laid on the couch and waited to see if anything else would happen. Soon enough I felt a strange sensation, and low and behold, my water broke. It was 1pm, I never expected my water to break. I ran to the bathroom with my phone, and called your Dad. He was in Chaska, and rushed home within minutes. I called Dr. Hartung, and he told me I could wait at home until my contractions were 6-8 minutes apart. I made myself a sandwich, cleaned up the house a bit, and barely breathed I was so nervous. The contractions seemed a little irregular, but they also seemed to be getting closer together. I this point, they didn’t hurt too bad. They just felt like terrible cramps, and caused me to breathe a little deeper. After about an hour, I called Dr. Hartung, and told him we were heading toward the hospital.
We arrived around 3pm, and got set up in our room. Dr. Hartung arrived and we talked though the plan. I gave him our birth plan, and told him one important thing was that I didn’t want to know how dilated I was. At the birth center, they would not have checked my cervix, and I was unsure how I would deal with knowing how things were progressing in this way. I thought it better not to know. There wasn’t too much else to cover, I knew I couldn’t have an epidural, and wouldn’t get Pitocin, as these were contraindicated in a breech delivery. I just stressed that I wanted you to be given to me immediately, and have you stay there as long as we wanted. This was incredibly important to me, and the impossibility of this was one of the reasons I really didn’t want a c-section. Dr. Hartung agreed, and decided to check as see how dilated I was, without thinking he immediately said “4 centimeters.” He quickly realized what he did, and apologized profusely. I was already over it, I was glad to know, and unsure of why I didn’t want to know in the first place.
I continued to labor for the next few hours. Dr. Hartung went home to eat some dinner, and your Dad and I walked the halls of the hospital. The contractions didn’t really seem to be getting that much worse, but they did get closer together. We went back to the room, and your Dad ate some dinner. I sat on the birth ball, and continued to let the contractions wave over me. Dr. Hartung came back to the hospital and decided to check me again. This time I was six and a half centimeters. Things were moving along. Dr. Hartung suggested I get in the tub, and I thought it was worth trying. I climbed in, and floated in the water as the contractions came and went. They started to become strong enough that I couldn’t talk, and instead hummed deeply until they passed. I’m not sure how long I was in there, maybe an hour or so. All I know is when they told me I needed to get out, I didn’t think that would be possible. I needed a break in the contractions to have enough time to stand up, and that break wasn’t happening. Eventually I slowly made my way out, and Dr. Hartung checked my cervix. I was ten centimeters, fully dilated.
I had no urge to push you out at this point. I read this was something that could happen with breech babies, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I just knew I’d rather stay with the status quo that start pushing. Eventually, Dr. Hartung insisted I try. The first few pushes were pretty meek, I had no idea what I was doing. Just as I started to try to push, Mary Signe, my midwife from the birth center, arrived. I invited her to your birth because she wanted to learn more about breech birth, and I felt she could really help me bridge the experience I planned and the one I was going to have. She was able to help me figure out the whole pushing thing. To my surprise, it was much more difficult than the labor. It wasn’t that painful, it was just hard. I couldn’t catch my breath, and they had to give me oxygen. I pushed in a few different positions, on the toilet, on my back, and eventually on my hands and knees.
After and hour and a half, without any epidural or pain medications, I pushed you out. To everyone’s surprise, you were pale white, and not breathing. I couldn’t see you behind me, so I didn’t know. I just kept asking if you were a boy or a girl, but no one would answer me. Dr. Hartung was busy cutting your umbilical cord and handing you off to the NICU team. Someone told me you were a girl and we told the room your name, Linde Jane. Mary Signe told me to talk to you, so I just started yelling across the room to you. I wanted you to hear my voice, and your Dad and I told you to breathe! They worked quickly and put a breathing tube in you to help you get started breathing. They told me you started breathing on your own in about 15 minutes. Eventually I was able to turn around and see just your tiny profile in the isolette across the room. There were bright lights on you, and many people surrounding you. All I could think of was how you looked just like the profile shot in your 20 week ultrasound picture. Everyone was very concerned, and I know your Dad was terrified, but I knew you would be OK. I was never scared in those first few moments, because I never doubted that you would be just fine, I knew it in my gut.
They took you away to put in IV lines in your belly button, and eventually came back to tell me you’d be taken to Children’s hospital in St. Paul and put on a cool—it protocol. Since I worked in the cardiac ICU, I knew exactly what this was, and it should have scared me, but I knew you would be fine.
About an hour later the Children’s team arrived and brought you back to my room so I could see you before you left. This was best and worst moment of my life. Seeing your tiny body in that isolette with a breathing tube and IVs, I felt like my heart was ripped out of my body and lay on that bed next to you. You were so beautiful. I wailed. I don’t think I can describe it.
Your Dad and Grandpa followed the ambulance to Children’s and your Grandma and I stayed the night at Woodwinds. I was discharged at 9 am and we drove to the other hospital to be with you. I was so happy to see you again, it felt to wrong to not have been with you for the last six hours.
They cooled you down to 92 degrees for 72 hours in order to save any brain cells that might have been damaged from lack of oxygen. They placed you on a continuous EEG monitor to observe for any seizures. They gave you tiny amounts of morphine to keep you comfortable while you were so cold. By the next morning, all of your wonky lab values were back to normal, they had taken the breathing tube out, and you were opening your eyes to stare at me. You never had any seizures. I still knew you would be fine, I never doubted it.
After 72 hours, they warmed you up, and we were able to hold you. We were over the moon happy to finally have you in our arms. They did an MRI of your brain to see if you had any damaged cells, but everything was completely normal. When the doctor came to tell us the results, I just nodded and said OK, Because I always knew you would be completely fine. We spent a couple more days in the hospital making sure everything was fine, and working on feeding you. Those few days were excruciating. We often couldn’t pick you up without calling a nurse first. It was crazy, you were our baby, and we wanted to hold you! Your Dad and I were brand new parents, and we were just trying to figure it out, but doing that in the NICU was like being in a fish bowl. We were so ready to take you home, and I know you were ready too.
Finally, after eight days, we took you home. You were 7 pounds 6 ounces, and 19 ¾ inches with wisps of copper red hair. You were strong and had wide blue eyes. I introduced you to your cats.
I’ll always wonder if I made the right choice to deliver you vaginally. Initially I was overcome with guilt and shame, I felt selfish. I wondered what I did wrong, why I couldn’t push you out faster. I was unsure I’d be able to cope with the pain I was feeling. Many people were skeptical of our choice, I was very afraid of what people would think when I told them what happened. I didn’t want to be judged, not when I was already feeling so vulnerable. I spoke with Dr. Hartung while we were in NICU. I asked what happened, why you came out with an Apgar score of 1? He didn’t know, he said your delivery was fine, it wasn’t too slow, your head didn’t get stuck, your heart tones were healthy. He told me again this was one of the risks for breech babies, and it could just as well have happened if I had a c-section. He reminded me that the long term outcomes are the same as non-breech babies. He might have been the only other person as confident as me that you would be just fine. As the days go by and I see how strong and bright you are, and as you meet your milestones weeks early, I feel assured that my gut was always right. You are and will be just fine.
|First Bath with Grandma