About two weeks before my due date, an ultrasound revealed that my once "heads-down and ready to go" baby had turned breech. This was my first child and the doctor told me the fact that my birth canal was untested combined with the particular breech position my baby choose made it especially dangerous to attempt vaginal delivery.
My doctor strongly urged me to have an External Version. This is a procedure where they try to manually turn the baby. He reminded me that a c-section was major surgery and he felt I should do everything possible to have the baby vaginally. So Friday, a week before my due date, my husband and I headed off to the hospital to try and turn our little dear.
Once at the hospital, they hooked me up to monitor the baby's heart rate and my contractions - if any. A steady stream of nurses and residents came in to ask me questions, start an IV, explain the procedure to me, and ask if I had any questions. They told me there was a very slim risk something could go wrong and if it did, they could have me in the OR and the baby delivered within two minutes.
Finally, the doctor who was going to perform the procedure came in. He did an extensive ultrasound and then he announced that he didn't think the version would work. He said there were several factors working against success:
He said it was unusual to try a version so late in pregnancy, but even with all these things working against us, we decided to give it a try. The doctor and two residents proceeded to push, pull, and push some more. But the baby just wasn't going to turn. After three tries, they gave up and sent me home with instructions to call my doctor as soon as possible if I should happen to go into labor over the weekend. They said my regular OB would call to schedule a c-section the next week.
- My build - I'm short and heavy.
- The fact that this was my first child meant my uterus was not as elastic and that would make turning more difficult.
- The placenta was in the front of my uterus and that might block the baby from turning.
- The size of the baby. He felt she was large (at least 8 pounds) and that meant she would again have less turning room.
It was a very long weekend - waiting for the surgery to be scheduled. I was scared of having surgery. I was scared of not having surgery. I was scared something would go wrong. I was scared of becoming a mommy. I was just down right scared!
Monday afternoon my OB called and told me I should go to the hospital that night for blood work and my c-section would be in the morning. A sudden rush of adrenaline, excitement, and fear coursed through my veins. In 24 hours, I would be a mommy.
We had to get up at 4 am Tuesday morning in order to get back to the hospital on time. Monday night Steve decided not to sleep. He figured he would just toss and turn anyway, so he spent the night listening to music. I tried to sleep, but managed only 2 or 3 hours. Tuesday morning I got up, showered, packed my last couple of things, and we headed off to the hospital. We were pretty quiet in the car. I didn't know what to say.
Once at the hospital, I had a mini panic. I had some bills that needed to be paid and I had forgotten to mail them. I guess it was a mixture of the fear, adrenalin, and excitement . . . but I wouldn't let myself be checked into the hospital until I found a mailbox. I was like a mad woman - running around the hospital looking for a place to mail my letters.
Once I did that and made my way to the Pregnancy Evaluation and Treatment (PET) Unit they hooked me up to the monitors. The baby's heartbeat was strong and steady but there wasn't a single contraction to be found. I was asked all the same questions they asked me on Friday. Another IV was hooked up and we waited for the doctors. Finally my OB and the anesthesiologist came in. They asked if I had any final questions, gave my chart the once-over and told Steve to put on his scrubs . . . we were heading over to surgery.
They had me walk from the PET Unit to the OB surgical suite. This was one of the longest walks of my life. The closer we got to the door that said "Authorized Personal Only", the more my heart raced in my chest. There was no turning back. This was it!
Steve was told to wait outside the operating room while they started my spinal. I was taken into the cold operating room and told to hop up on the operating table. I needed some help for this maneuver because a short pregnant lady doesn't hop anywhere. The spinal was the worst part of the whole thing. The anesthesiologist said I didn't have good landmarks (not something I wanted to hear), so it took him a few minutes to do the job. But once that was done, everything started to move really fast.
I was shaved and given a catheter and the incision was made. I asked when they would allow my husband to come in. With that, the doctor summoned him. I felt a little woozy from the tranquilizer they put in my I.V. but I was still present for the whole thing. The surgical lights were set up in such a way that I could watch the whole operation, if I wanted. It was a trip! There I was, lying there watching this surgery - like it's the Discovery Channel or something - and all of a sudden I realize - "Hey, that's me up there!" So I stopped watching.
Steve was a little overwhelmed by the blood. He said it was a good thing I stopped watching. He was making jokes and taking pictures to keep busy. The next thing I know the doctor says, "Here she comes. Here's your baby!" I looked up to see him holding the most beautiful blond baby girl. My OB gave her to the neonatologist to clean her up. He suctioned her out and the nurse took her footprint. They put id tags on Steve, the baby, and me. We all had bands with identical numbers and you had to show your band in order to get the baby once you left surgery.
We knew we were having a girl, because I had an amnio. We had decided to call her Elizabeth. Elizabeth was 6 pounds, 12 ounces (seems the ultrasound measurements were just a little off) and she was 19.5 inches long. She had the fullest head of platinum blond hair anyone had ever seen - all the nurses were shocked at the amount and color. Her Apgar scores were 7 and 9. The nurse told me it was common for the c-section babies to have a slightly low first score because the passage through the birth cannel helps clear out mucus and get them ready to breath. C-section babies don't get that preparation.
While they were stitching me up, I couldn't take my eyes off of my little girl. The nurse wrapped her up in a blanket and brought her over to me. They put her across my chest and I just kept staring at her. I had my little girl, my beautiful Elizabeth. My baby was here and I loved her more than I dreamed possible. All the fear, pain, and petty annoyances of the last nine months were well worth it. I would have walked across hot coals for Elizabeth and for those first moments with my beautiful baby.