ride the wave

I did Day 2 of Adriene’s yoga two days ago, and multiple times she said to “ride the wave.” It reminded me of when I was in labor with Evie, and how hard I fought to have the chance to go through labor with that little muffin.

I have my birth story written up elsewhere, but I want to talk about how I came to even get to go into labor with Evie in the first place.

When I was 26 weeks pregnant with Evie, I was in a minor car accident. As a result, I had to go to the hospital because when you’re pregnant they always want to make sure the baby is OK. When I got there, the nurse casually mentioned that Evie was breech. And also completely fine. But of course, when I left the hospital I had something new to worry about.

My sister’s first baby was breech, so I had experience with the steps of having a breech baby. I didn’t worry about it too much because it was still early in my pregnancy – about 25% of babies are breech before 28 weeks, compared to 3-4% at full-term.

Cut to 34 weeks pregnant, when Evie was still breech. My doctor started talking about C-sections. I knew I wanted to avoid a C-section for many reasons. It’s a major surgery. IT’s better for the baby to pass through the vaginal canal for many reasons. So I started doing some research and talking to my sister. I found a chiropractor, did pre-natal massage (it should not be called massage, my god it hurts) and went to an acupuncturist. I did moxibustion. I did yoga. I got in the pool and did headstands.

(Thanks to Ellen for the photo!)

During my 35 week, I went to a chiropractor for the first time. My chiropractor/masseuse Dr. Berlin asked me a question no one had yet asked me when I went there the first time, “If you could, what kind of labor would you have, no holds barred?” I said home birth, preferably water birth. And he said, “Well if you’re going to give birth at Cedars and you’re potentially going to have a scheduled C-section, but it’s just because she’s breech, then here’s what I recommend.” And he told me there are doctors in LA that do vaginal breech deliveries. He told me about his podcast and that a 3-part series about breech babies. He told me something I already knew – that I should get a doula.

By this point, I had already been to a yoga workshop with Jeff about labor. And been going to a prenatal class with a teacher I really liked – who also happened to be a doula. And so we set up a meeting with her and hired her around my 37th week. She, along with Jeff, encouraged me to switch OBs. Switching OBs so late in my pregnancy seemed insane, but so did scheduling my C-section without doing everything that was humanly possible to have a vaginal birth.

At my 36th week, Evie was still breech, and my doctor wanted to schedule a C-section. I asked her if we could try an external cephalic version (EVC) or version for short. Basically this is when your doctor tries to rotate the baby in your stomach externally. I knew of this option because my sister had one. They have a success rate of 58%, and my doctor didn’t think that it would work, but I wanted to try. She didn’t even offer it as an option to me, which was frustrating – what if I had never heard of them?

So during my 37th week, we scheduled one. My sister’s worked. Mine did not. We went to the hospital and attempted one, but ultimately Evie didn’t want to turn for us.

So I called and made an appointment with Dr. Brock, one the LA doctors who does vaginal breech deliveries and also happens to work at Cedars where I was already supposed to deliver. He had been on vacation but I explained that Dr. Berlin had asked me to call and had referred me and they slotted me in the day I was 38 weeks.

I went to my OB during my 37th week, told her I was going to see Dr. Brock, and she said “Well I don’t think you’re a very good candidate for vaginal breech, but go see Dr. Brock.” Not rudely, but more like “I know more than you so good luck.” Which was frustrating, because why wouldn’t you at least want me to review all my options? I asked if she’d consider doing a vaginal breech (no) and if she’d at least let me go into labor before we schedule the C-section (also no.) Honestly, if she had said yes to the second one, I might have not switched doctors. I just wanted Evie to come when she was ready. But she wanted to schedule Evie to come before October 2. So she reserved an OR room for September 29 at 5 pm, and I made an appointment with Dr. Brock.

Jeff and I met him Dr. Brock on September 25, and explained the situation. He listened and said, “Let’s get a look at your baby.” After the ultrasound he told me “No problem – she’s in a good position for an attempt at a vaginal breech delivery.” I was to come back weekly until I went into labor. This was such a relief to me – finally someone who was with me. I asked how far along he’d let me go before he’d schedule a C-section in case Evie was late, and he said 41 weeks. Dr. Brock mentioned he couldn’t deliver Evie if I went into labor on her due date (October 2) as he was seeing Hamilton, but otherwise we were good. That made me laugh and realize I was in good company.

So, on the Monday I turned 38 weeks, I switched OBs. That Thursday, three days later, my water broke. And that Friday, four days later (and four days early/before Dr. Brock saw Hamilton) I had Evie via C-section. But, before she arrived, I got to labor. My water broke at 4:15 am on Thursday, September 28, and on Friday, September 29, at 4:00 am, Dr. Brock told me I was fully dilated, but that Evie’s feet were down, so we’d have to go in to have a C-section. Pretty hilarious that she came on the same day my other OB had wanted to schedule my C-section in the first place, but she’d come in on her own terms.

Before my C-section, I’d breathed through 9 hours of contractions without any drugs, until 1:00 am when Kim asked me what I thought the baby needed, and I replied “an epidural” (ha!). I’d ridden the wave of my contractions, breathing into them as Kim coached me through/Jeff & my Mom supported me. Using my breath to ride them rather than fighting the tide, if you will. I’d felt how strong the body can truly be. And, as I did Day 2 with Adriene, I smiled because I was reminded of just how strong the breath can be – how much it can get you through just about anything. Including all 30 Days of this yoga program. Including birthing your child – even if you end up in an OR. Including using yoga to rebuild all those muscles that were cut through to bring Evie into this world. And so, we move on, to Day 3, and Day 4, and on…

One thought on “ride the wave

  1. This is such a powerful story. I had a friend in South Carolina who was very set on a vaginal delivery and the doctors basically forced her into a C-section because she was in labor for more than 15 hours (which is seriously nothing!), and she was deeply depressed after that, because she felt robbed of her choice. I’m crazy proud of you for being an advocate for yourself and your birth experience!!! I changed midwives earlier in my pregnancy because I knew what my goals were and I wanted to make sure my midwife and I were on the same page 100% of the time.

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