This is my Gentle C-Section Birth Story…
Giving birth to Bronson wasn’t exactly as I envisioned. In my mind, I saw a quiet birth at home laboring in a bath filled with relaxing oils. Laboring by candlelight with my husband, midwife, and doula by my side. I dreamed of the support of those that I loved and trusted. Months before Bronson was born, my husband Charles and I took Bradley Birth Method classes. I was excited to bring our son into this world together. I so badly wanted to depend on Charles for loving support. I wanted him to truly be a part of the birth. I wanted us both to deliver the best thing that had ever happened to us. (Read my post Naturally Modern Pregnancy)
If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that nothing will be as imagined and plans should be thrown out of the window. At 32 weeks, I was told that my baby was transverse breech. I remember relaxing in the bath one night, taking deep cleansing breaths and practicing for labor, when I felt the baby turn sideways. I could feel his head and his bum on the sides of my belly with my hands. At my next midwife appointment, I was given exercises from the website Spinning Babies, in an attempt to turn him. She also gave me a list of suggestions I could try that included chiropractic adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, essential oils, and manual adjustment. I was determined to have a natural childbirth and I was willing to try anything to avoid a C-section.
At our last birthing class, our instructor looked at me with heartbreak in her eyes and told me that I should begin to plan for a Gentle C-Section –just in case. I knew she was right. I revised my birth plan and prepared myself for a hospital birth that may include surgery. I cried so many times over the realization that I wouldn’t have the birth that I had dreamed. I prayed and I begged, I did headstands to try to turn this baby, but it felt like I might as well have been trying to move mountains. At 37 weeks I went into labor.
I went to my chiropractor for another adjustment; my third that week. As soon as I walked into the office, I went to the restroom to find that I had lost my mucus plug. Only I didn’t know it at the time. Just in case, I sent Charles a text to come home as soon as possible, but I didn’t tell him why. I had just left the chiropractor’s office when I had the overwhelming urge to stop and buy another giant pack of toilet paper. It was the night before a huge blizzard was going to hit the DC Metro area and the grocery stores were packed. While in the paper aisle, my contractions went from manageable tightness to jaw clenching intense. As I stood in the impossibly long line to make my purchase of three 24 packs of toilet paper, The contractions started coming closer together. I rubbed my belly, closed my eyes and hummed as I breathed deeply. My discomfort must have been noticeable because, thank goodness, a cashier took pity and opened up a new checkout line just for me.
As soon as I got home, I called my midwife who confirmed that I may be going into labor. She told me to call her back if I saw any bright red blood and if so, not to delay coming into the hospital. The roads were already getting bad and I had a breech baby. Shortly after hanging up the phone, Charles walked through the door. I explained that we might be having a baby earlier than expected and that we need to make sure that the dog is walked and our bags were packed. I wanted to take a shower, but I felt a strong desire to take a bath and relax as well. As Charles walked the dog, I quickly showered and washed my hair, then I ran a hot bath with lavender oils, lit a few candles and got ready to relax. I was determined to have a small piece of the birth I had envisioned. But, fate had a different plan and just before I stepped into the bath, I noticed bright red blood. The universe was relentless, I thought to myself. So I pulled the plug and watched my ritual birthing bath go down the drain. As I dressed, Charles packed a few more things to take to the hospital. I said a long goodbye to the dog since it would be the last time that she would be my baby. As we walked out the door, I remembered to snag the Goddess aromatherapy necklace I had made earlier that day. I placed a few drops of lavender right on the belly of the pendant while in route to the hospital. It was my last hope of bringing my dream birth to the with me.
The usual 7-minute drive took us 20 minutes because the roads really were pretty bad already. I was checked in and sent back pretty quickly to triage. Once there the midwife Kelly came to see me. She said she could smell lavender oil down the hallway. “There must be a midwife patient here,” she said with an amused smile. A quick ultrasound confirmed that Bronson was still transverse and two OB’s were sent in to try manual version. I had heard so many frightening stories about how painful manual version could be. In truth, it was no tickle fest, but it was tolerable, much like a deep tissue massage. After an hour and a half of trying manual version, the OB turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, we just can’t seem to get him to move.” Soon the anesthesiologist came to introduce himself. He asked when and what I had eaten last and I told him that I had a huge meal an hour before. I lied, I had barely eaten that day, but it bought me some time. I prayed that labor would naturally turn my baby. I was only allowed to labor until I was 5 cm dilated. At that point, the nurse could feel the baby’s hand or foot during a vaginal check and my time had run out.
I had come to terms with the fact that I would in all likelihood, deliver via Gentle C-Section, or so I thought. I seemed to be taking it pretty well the midwife told me. That was until I began the walk down the hallway to the OR. It was really going to happen, I thought. A small part of me always believed that this baby would turn. While walking down the cold and sterile hallway to the OR where my baby would be born, tears welled in my eyes. This was far from the birth spiritual right if passage into motherhood that I had hoped for. I was helped onto the OR table and the anesthesiologist began to explain the spinal block procedure. That’s when I completely lost all control of my emotions, the midwife held me as tears poured down my cheeks and I sobbed uncontrollably. She held my hand, her cheek pressed against my cheek, sharing the saltiness of my tears. As I was prepped for surgery, the midwife reviewed my C-section birth plan with the OB. Charles walked through the door to be by my side just before the surgery started. I had earbuds in while listing to relaxing meditation music, as suggested by the midwife. But after a few minutes, I took the earbuds out. I didn’t want to feel like I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted to be present while my baby was born; even if it felt like a bad dream. Seconds later, I heard my baby cry for the first time. I started crying again because my baby was here. I laughed and cried tears of joy. Then that it hit me, I hadn’t seen him yet but knew I loved him just by hearing his cry. It didn’t matter how Bronson came into this world. I loved him just the same.