Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn

Okay, I'm ready to blog. And this is going to be a long one.

Last Tuesday, the second, Baby decided it needed to be breech. I don't know why. Baby didn't like being breech, considering the way it was straining to turn back all day Tuesday, but breech Baby was. We found out at our prenatal appointment that Tuesday. Our wonderful, amazing midwife was certain Baby was breech but urged us to get an ultrasound to confirm that fact before attempting to turn Baby so that we wouldn't accidentally turn a head-down baby to a breech position. We were able to make an ultrasound appointment for that afternoon.

Ultrasound tangent time. The Hubby and I don't like routine ultrasounds. We aren't sure of the safety of the technology. I was going to post links for you to look at but Firefox is doing some crazy chicken-dance and keeps shutting down when I have multiple tabs, so if you really want to read up on it, that's what Google is for. Actually, if you don't mind, use "goodsearch (dot) com" and put in the "Oregon Midwifery Council" as your charity of choice.

So, we aren't sure of the safety of ultrasounds. They have been shown to cause low birth weight and they are known to heat fetal tissue because they are energy waves. When your baby's tissue gets too hot protein synthesis can't happen and growth halts until the tissue can cool down. Bones retain more heat than fleshy tissue, and this is most notable in the skull. Diagnostic ultrasounds spend a lot of time looking at the head and face to determine birth defects. Having ultrasound waves pointed at the head for a long time heats up the skull, causing the brain to slow or stop development until the skull can cool down. If the heating up takes place during a delicate part of the brain development, who knows what can happen?

Also, diagnostic ultrasounds can tell if you have birth defects. But there aren't many birth defects that can be fixed while you are pregnant, and the ones that need attention after birth your midwife or OB/GYN can tell after the birth. So if you find your baby has a defect during pregnancy there isn't much you can do unless you're willing to have an abortion. Which we're not. Also, I have personal experience with this. My sister found out at her 20 week ultrasound that her baby girl had a condition incompatible with life. She knew her baby was going to die. So she grieved during the pregnancy and grieved the death of her daughter. I have decided I don't want that.

In short The Hubby and I "play" statistics. We compare the statistics of something being wrong to something that can be fixed to the risks that ultrasounds pose and have decided that most ultrasounds are not wanted in our case. However, we are completely okay with ultrasounds when medically indicated, such as the case of Baby being breech. It was a short ultrasound just to tell the position of the Baby, which was all the information we needed.

However, the technician treated us like uninformed bumpkins. First she asked us how far along I was. I told her 38 weeks. She expressed amazement that we hadn't had an ultrasound earlier and then asked us "If you haven't had an ultrasound how do you KNOW you're 38 weeks?" Um, what? It's called "knowing your last menstrual period and calculating the date from there". Heck, I even adjusted for the fact that my cycles are different from the "standard" 28 days.

Due date tangent. What is the deal with changing due dates based on ultrasound measurements? Do OB/GYNs really believe that ALL babies grow at the same rate and that they can really tell how far along you are based on your baby's size? Almost all of my mommy friends that have had ultrasounds get their due dates changed, and often to an earlier date. So, here's a real story to illustrate the point I'm trying to make. My friend A had a due date. At her 20 week ultrasound the due date was changed to a week earlier. This new due date approaches and passes. They induced her three days after the new due date, because "being late is sooo dangerous!" Which that is another tangent... Okay, after 41 hours of induced labor they perform a c-section because baby is distressing from the really hard contractions. Baby is about 6.5 pounds. Does that sound like an overdue baby to you?

So, tech doesn't believe I'm actually 38 weeks along. She also can't understand the fact that a midwife can actually feel the position of the baby, nor does she understand the fact that we don't want our baby measured. But instead of treating us like intelligent adults and asking us our opinion she gets all flustered and makes somewhat snarky remarks ("And here's your placenta, which is good information to have." "You're right, it is good to know, my midwives already knew where is was." "How?!?" "You can hear the placenta with a fetascope.") and then won't let us leave until she consults with a doctor.

So at that point Baby was breech and we needed to change our birth plans. In Oregon you cannot legally deliver a known breech at a birth center. However you can birth them at home. We started planning for a home birth. Two weeks before I was due. Why a home birth? Because if I went to the hospital it's nearly certain I would have to endure a c-section. And because vaginal breeches do not carry a significantly greater risk than vertex (head down) babies with experienced midwives or OBs. The problem is finding an experienced OB/GYN. I saw my niece's breech birth in a hospital and there is no way I'm letting a doctor do that to my baby. Thankfully my midwives are experienced in breech birth and they do a great job with it. Ask my friend that had breech twins with them.

So we were feeling peaceful about the breech position of our baby, but apprehensive of the home birth. Not because I'm scared of home birth, but because it's was a complete change to what we had been planning. And I don't know if you know this, but mothers that are two weeks away from delivering don't do well with last minute changes.

We set up an appointment for that Friday (the fifth) to try an external cephalic version. This is where you try to turn the baby manually into a vertex position. The head midwife of the birth center was doing the version while one of my midwives was monitoring the heart rate of Baby. Halfway through the version Baby's heart rate dropped waaay down. Since this indicated a problem, probably a cord wrap, the version was stopped. The midwives said that Baby could still turn itself but they weren't going to try manually. We were okay with this, if Baby wanted to be breech that's okay. After the version attempt, however, we felt we needed to tell family we were having a home birth and why. By the way, we aren't worried about a cord wrap. Many, many babies are born with a cord wrap and my midwives, once again, are experienced in dealing with them.

The responses I got from family ranged from "Oh, no, that's TERRIBLE!" to, "Eh." And, honestly, both extremes were not helpful. The best response for me was "I know everything is going to be alright, but I'm sorry this happened." You know, indicate concern but not like it's the end of the world. I found out just the other day that there were MORE extreme responses, such as family that wanted to call me up and tell me exactly why I needed to deliver in a hospital. Thankfully I was protected from those calls by a sensitive family member. Thank you. I know the risks involved with a vaginal breech, and I would have been okay talking about my relatives' fears, but I have a feeling that I would not have been heard, which would have been stressful for me.

So when we went to our next prenatal appointment this last Monday and discovered Baby was transverse (sideways) the stress mounted. With a transverse baby you absolutely cannot deliver vaginally, it is always a c-section case. My midwife was sure that Baby was in the process of turning itself. I felt the fear that I would go into labor before Baby finished turning. I had my cervix checked to see if A) we had time and B) if Baby had and arm or shoulder engaged in my pelvis. Luckily I was a "tight zero" and all my midwife could feel was Baby's back.

We started talking about options. My midwife told me about a naturopath that performs versions with the use of an ultrasound. That way he could see exactly why Baby's heart rate dropped and could deal with it. We set up an appointment for Thursday to feel Baby's position again and make a choice.

We chose not to tell family at that time that Baby was transverse. Considering the reactions from telling them about the breech birth we knew we could not deal with the fear that would be generated from this new position.

Monday night/early Tuesday morning I woke up to do my nightly ritual: going to the bathroom about twenty times. During one of my bathroom breaks I was feeling Baby and was sure that where there had been a head there was now a back. I remember thinking I was very excited and I wanted to wake The Hubby for him to feel, but I didn't want to jinx anything, especially if Baby decided to move back. So I just went to sleep. When morning actually happened I had The Hubby help me feel my belly. And we were pretty sure Baby was head down. So I called my midwife and asked if I could go in that day and get checked out. She said of course and I took BuggaBoo with me to get my belly felt.

Baby is now officially vertex! I don't know why we had to "go through" all this. I have found many blessings in this experience, though. First, before Baby turned breech I was actively comparing Baby to BuggaBoo. After Baby turned they became their own person to me, not just a different experience. I have really connected with Baby through this whole thing. Also, I was afraid of the labor pain. I knew I could deal with the labor, but I was starting to panic about the pain. Now after being faced with the very real risk of a c-section I can say I am excited for natural labor to happen and to feel my body give birth. What a glorious thing to have a baby naturally! I have come to trust my baby and my body more, though it took a lot of faith. I have grown so much closer to my midwife, my "new" one (the other midwife delivered BuggaBoo, so we already have a great relationship). I have come to love and depend on her so much.

So now things are back to normal, whatever that means. I will be giving birth at the birth center, provided that Baby has decided it's done doing somersaults. I am having a vertex baby. Looking at it superficially nothing has changed. But I can tell you so much has changed, and I am glad for this growth.

And I am ready for this baby, whoever they may be.


  1. I am so very glad that baby decided to turn for you! I KNOW you will be amazing in labor. Truly trust yourself, your body, and your baby and all will be well.
    I am here my friend if you need anything.

  2. What a GREAT post Krista :) I enjoyed the entire thing. You make so many great points and you can tell you KNOW what you are talking about.

    And i love your midwives, i love that you are seeing midwives and i love that they know so stinking much about babies and delivering them!

    I know you are in great capable hands :)

    I hope that the rest of your pregnancy is peaceful and that you can enjoy these last moments with your "first baby", since this will be the last time it's just the three of you :)

    I love you i love you i love you i love you!

    (oh, and i smiled so big when you said Niece, and actually i'm tearing up now! I never really hear anyone call her that, it's always just Grace.)

  3. This was enjoyable to read; and very informative.
    Your writing talent comes out in your posts.

  4. So awesome! Yay for midwives & believing in your body! Happy birthing!!!

  5. Everyone, thank you. It was an interesting situation to go through. And thank you for your blessings, I'm so excited for this baby to come!