When Things Don’t Go Your Way: The Best Cesarean Possible
Six and a half years ago I headed in for one of my last OB appointments before the birth of my daughter Arden. I was almost 39 weeks and very excited for the unmedicated, natural birth of my daughter. At the appointment I found out she was breech. My doctor “gave” me three days to try some natural ways to get her to turn. We tried but she did not turn and we ended up heading to the hospital for the c-section. My doctor never explained the surgery and I held hope that miraculously she would have turned by the time I got to the hospital. She didn’t. The surgery and the following 48 hours were a complete blur. I was given so many drugs pre and post surgery that I am unable to recall much of the experience. I also did not have the desire during the first 24 hours to bond with my child. After this experience I really didn’t want to have another child because I did not want another c-section.
What happened? My five year old happened! “I want a sister!” So last summer my husband and I changed our minds and decided to have another one. I immediately researched Dr. Cap because I had heard so many wonderful things about him. Specifically that he was pro natural birth and VBAC. After our first appointment with him, my husband and I could not believe the difference between him and my last OB. Dr. Cap genuinely cares about his patients and spends quality time with them too. We knew right away that we were in the best hands possible. He was completely supportive of our wishes for this pregnancy.
At around 30 weeks I started to feel that this baby was breech. How could this be? Not again! I knew that the baby was still small enough to turn into the right position so I remained positive but definitely started doing more “head down” exercises for good measure. Over the next few weeks we confirmed she was breech and got serious with ways to turn her. I did chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, acupressure and various exercises—I even hung upside down from a yoga swing! By 37 weeks my little babe was still close to my heart so we headed in to the hospital for an external cephalic version. Dr. Cap put those big hands on my belly and began to turn my baby. We’ll skip how horribly this hurt and get right to the ending—SUCCESS! We were finally on the right track. Immediately after the version I started having strong Braxton Hicks contractions and some unexplained pain when the baby moved. I thought maybe the version was triggering labor. Our doula thought this could be the case too so we were on high alert. Just about every night for the next five weeks I had what felt like the start of labor—contractions that felt stronger than Braxton Hicks and then some weird, sharp pain when the baby moved that would cause me to lose my breath and double over.
If you’re counting you’ll notice I said five weeks, 37 + 5 = 42. Yep, 42 weeks and no baby. Dr. Cap and I had long discussed that if I got to 42 weeks the best option would be a c-section. I could not believe I was faced with this again. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I had done it all to get labor going and here I was, a mess of tears, facing my second c-section. Dr. Cap had assured me that he would do everything in his power to make this experience completely different from my first. In my heart I believed him and in my mind I knew the surgery was the way to go. I got to a place during my 42nd week where I had to let go a bit. I had to stop thinking about what I wanted and focus on the end prize, my baby. There was also that unexplained pain that was causing me extreme discomfort. I had done every thing I could to have the outcome that I wanted. I decided to stop thinking about “I” and start thinking about holding that baby in my arms. We wrote a c-section birth plan (and a VBAC one too!) and discussed it with Dr. Cap. He was on board.
When we arrived at the hospital on the day of the surgery I was very emotional. I had been having the same contractions like always but was suddenly hopeful that something may have changed. Unfortunately when Dr. Cap checked me, just like the last few times, there was no change to my cervix. Tears again. My husband and I went into the bathroom and had a serious talk. He asked me to trust my instincts and do what I felt was right. I couldn’t believe my answer, c-section felt right.
We had a long talk with Dr. Cap and the anesthesiologist stressing that I wanted minimal medication. I basically only wanted to be numbed so I didn’t feel the surgery. I did not want anything extra. I reiterated how badly I felt during my first surgery and they listened. In the operating room everyone was super friendly and very supportive. Dr. Cap held me tight while I got the spinal. After that, I actually started to feel happy and excited. I heard Dr. Cap tell the other surgeon that they were going to lower the drape during delivery so that I could watch my baby being born. My husband came in and the surgery began. I was totally alert which was such a change. I had some shakes but that was it. When the curtain was lowered I saw Dr. Cap working to get my baby out. He slowly pulled my baby up and out and let me have a good look at her. We got great pictures. It was such an amazing experience. I finally knew what it was like to birth a child. My daughter was born with her eyes open and it looked like she was starting straight at me. L’Wren Amarie was finally here.
Per our request, the nurses did just the basic tests in the OR and immediately gave our daughter to my husband. A nurse helped me open up my gown to expose my bare chest. My husband unwrapped our daughter and placed her skin to skin. She immediately looked for my nipple and latched on—in the operating room! It was such a fantastic experience. I felt so cared for by everyone but more importantly, because I didn’t have too much medication or complications from the medication, I was immediately able to bond with my child. Dr. Cap came to the hospital every day to check on me. The hospital staff kept commenting on what a special c-section I had.
Looking back, I’ll never know why I had two breech babies. Due to the extreme pain I had associated with her movement once she was head down, I sometimes wonder if she would have gotten stuck. Was all of the starting and stopping of labor my baby trying to get in the right position but never making it? I’ll never know. I will learn to be okay with that. What I do know is that I am completely confident in my decision to have the c-section. Furthermore, I could not imagine having a baby with anyone other than Dr. Cap. He is the most personable, caring and wonderful doctor! I feel blessed to have gotten to know him and his lovely staff!