When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: Karoline’s Birth Story

In honor of Mother’s Day yesterday, I’m sharing Karoline’s birth story. I debated over whether to share her birth story, but ultimately decided to share it for two reasons: one, I want to have this sweet memory written down; and two, I hope that this story assures other mommas that even when your delivery is the exact opposite of what you envisioned, it can still be a great experience.

Childbirth is one of the most momentous occasions in one’s life. As moms-to-be, we hope, we dream, and we make birth plans. You have 9.5 months to prepare for something that you have no control over. It’s scary and exciting. And at the end of the day, you just want a healthy baby and safe delivery.

When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: Transverse Breech Baby

We first found out that Karoline was breech at around 31 weeks along. We had went in for an ultrasound and couldn’t get any good photos of her face because she was breech and had her hands up in her face. I was a little worried, so I asked the ultrasound tech if she thought the baby would turn. I distinctly remember her response: “I don’t have any reason to believe this baby won’t turn.” So of course I hit up Dr. Google to read about breech babies and how to flip them. One option was to try the Webster method with a chiropractor. I go to the chiro regularly, so I started going to the chiro 2-3 times per week trying to flip the baby.

Fast forward to 35 weeks, when we discovered that Karoline was still breech.  She was actually transverse, or sideways, in my belly, with her head to my right side (I could feel it every time I would roll over on that side). I was freaking out, because I knew that if I didn’t get this baby flipped, I would be headed for a c-section.  From day one, a c-section was the ONE THING I most wanted to avoid.

After consulting with my doctor, we decided to schedule a version (ECV) to try to manually turn the baby for 37w1d, as well as to continue with the chiro visits and add in some Spinning Babies exercises. I did talk to my doctor about the “what-if” c-section scenario–having skin-to-skin contact immediately was most important to me, and I had read about “gentle” c-sections.  He said that so long as everything was okay with the baby, that could happen! This gave me a little bit of comfort but I was determined to flip Karoline.

Y’all, what followed was one of the most emotionally and physically stressful periods of my life. For two weeks, I tried everything to flip the baby and stressed the possibility of a c-section.  Laying on an ironing board upside down for 20 minutes is difficult on a good day, let alone when you’re 35+ weeks pregnant. Heck, I even got real nimble at doing the forward-leaning inversions.

When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: Failed ECV (Version)

Karoline still hadn’t flipped by my 36 week appointment, so we spent the weekend preparing for my version on Tuesday, February 27.  Versions are not without risks.  We were told that I could be thrown into labor or rushed into an emergency c-section if Karoline didn’t react well, so we had to treat that Tuesday as if it were go day.  On Saturday, we made a Supermarket Sweeps-style run to Target to get all the baby things that hadn’t been checked off the list.  On Sunday, we took Kane to Cincinnati for one last outing just for him. We spent every spare moment, and most of Monday, packing our hospital bags and finishing Karoline’s room.

That Tuesday morning, we dropped Kane off at our friends’ house and headed to the hospital for the version. My doctor and another doctor worked together and twice attempted to flip Karoline, but it was to no avail. She wouldn’t budge. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through–while you have a shot to relax your muscles, you do not get pain medication. To give you an ideal of what it was like, I had bruises on my belly where her head was at. I cried while they were attempting the flip, and I cried even more afterwards when they said it failed. I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of hours for observation.

While it sucked that the version failed, I was thankful it didn’t throw me into labor or end in an emergency c-section. That meant I potentially still had a couple more weeks to try to flip her. From the hospital bed, I called and scheduled an acupuncture appointment with moxi for later that day and more chiro appointments. After I was released, we went and grabbed some Chick-fil-a breakfast so I could eat my feelings.

The next day, I ran home on my lunch break to burn the moxi by my toes for 20 minutes like the acupuncture therapist instructed.  Y’all, it’s harder to do than it sounds!haha Chauncey had a diaper party to go to that evening, so Kane and I spent the evening together after work.  We played Hungry Hungry Hippo and Shark Bite repeatedly, and had Jet’s bread for dinner. Chauncey brought me home a slice of cake from the diaper party, which I had a bite of before bed. And then we worked through all the baby flipping stuff. Chauncey kept accidentally burning my toes with the moxi. I was exhausted when we went to bed.

When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: Unexpected Labor

I woke up the next morning, March 1, at about 6:30 a.m. and was a little uncomfortable because I was having back contractions (but not consistently). I dozed until about 7 a.m., when I went downstairs to have breakfast with Kane. He only wanted a bite of the cake, so I ate the rest of it, along with a piece of chocolate for good measure.

Afterwards, I went upstairs to use the bathroom and discovered I was bleeding. Chauncey was still sleeping, bless his heart, when I woke him up to tell him what was going on. He jumped up to get ready while I called the doctor.  The doctor on call told us to come on in to the hospital.  Thankfully, I had felt Karoline kicking already that morning so while I was very scared, I had some level of comfort that she was currently okay despite the bleeding.

Kane had no clue what was going on. We tried not to alarm him as we were rushing to get out of the house. I’ll never forget–in the mist of all that chaos, he stuck a Valentine’s Day sticker on my hand with hearts that said “Have a nice day.” I teared up because I was so scared and was just praying that everything would be okay. We dropped him off at daycare and headed to Frankfort.

As soon as we got checked in to Labor & Delivery at the hospital, they performed an ultrasound on Karoline and she was okay. We breathed a sigh of relief. They decided to keep me for a few hours to monitor me.  After multiple tests, we thought we were getting to go home. I couldn’t wait for the Penn Station lunch I was going to have when I got out. But then the doctor on call came in to perform one last ultrasound around 1 p.m..  He didn’t like how Karoline’s breathing looked, and it was determined I was in labor.  She was still transverse, which meant I had to have c-section. I was so disappointed.

Here I had done everything in my power to avoid a c-section, but my worst fear was becoming a reality. I was terrified of major abdominal surgery. I dreaded the thought of having a scar. Seriously–I escaped two pregnancies without a single stretch mark only to end up with a freakin’ scar. Once again, I cried as all my expectations came crashing down.

Since I had eaten that morning, they decided to wait until 4 p.m. to perform the c-section. We called our moms to tell them to get on the road to Lexington to pick up Kane from daycare to bring to the hospital. They also fed the cats and picked up a few things we left behind. Chauncey ran to get some food (I told him he better eat it before he got back to my hospital room because I didn’t want to see it), while I came to terms with the fact that I was going to be meeting my baby very shortly.

At the end of the day, I was determined to make the most of my delivery, even thought it was the exact opposite of what I wanted.

When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: C-Section Delivery

The nurse came in around 3:30 p.m. to prep me. I was mentally prepared but still freaking out. Once everything was finished, a little after 4 p.m., we left Chauncey behind to put on the protective clothing while I walked over to the operating room.  I climbed up on the table as they started prepping me. All of us were joking around, and one of my favorite radio stations was playing. Once they were ready to start, Chauncey was allowed in. As long as I live, I’ll never forget me grasping his hand throughout the procedure.

Karoline was born at 4:26 p.m. Chauncey stood up to watch her be delivery and filmed it for me.  They took her over to quickly be checked, measured, and weighed. Then Chauncey brought her over to me so that I could do skin-to-skin while they finished up my surgery–how awesome is that?! It was the one thing that I was worried I would be denied if I had to have a c-section, but communication with your doctor is key.

The first thing I noticed when Chauncey brought her over to me was her hair. And I was amazed by how small she was compared to Kane when he was born. In that moment, I felt so overjoyed and at peace.  It was the best feeling ever. After all the worry and stress, she was here and she was perfect! 

She stayed on my chest until they wheeled me back to the room for recovery.  I nursed her, and then handed her off to Chauncey to hold.  He did skin-to-skin contact as well. The love you feel for your husband when he holds your children is incredible–my heart was about to burst watching Chauncey hold his daughter, this little tiny baby that we created together.

Our moms arrived with Kane shortly after we were moved to a room.  We had our moms wait in the waiting room while we brought Kane in to meet his sister. It was a moment I had envisioned since before I even found out I was pregnant, and it was beautiful. He was so excited and amazed.

When You Don’t Get the Delivery You Wanted: Final Thoughts

After the day we’d had, it was such a relief to hold Karoline in our arms and know that she was okay. Even though all my expectations went out the window, it was truly an amazing birth experience. I was terrified because I had only had bad stories about c-sections: delayed time holding your baby, issues with breastfeeding, and terrible recoveries. But despite my c-section, Karoline’s birth was beautiful and empowering. My body didn’t fail me–it did exactly what it needed to do to get her here safely.

Compared to Kane’s birth, Karoline’s delivery was definitely quicker and honestly–it was nice not to have to push for almost 2 hours. The recovery was a little more difficult, but I had a fairly easy recovery. I went home after 2 nights in the hospital, and was able to climb the stairs and sleep in my own bed my first night home.

So mommas, if your delivery doesn’t turn out exactly how you, please don’t let that rob your joy in the event. Sometimes we have to put our expectations aside and just roll with it. I encourage you to not wear blinders about alternative scenarios to your perfect birth.  Talk with your doctor or midwife about what’s most important to you during delivery (like immediate skin-to-skin contact) and I bet that in many circumstances, they’ll be able to make some things work for you. I’m so grateful for my medical team and how caring and compassion they were.

 

 

 

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