Friday, Hunter and I went to the OB for more than just a normal prenatal exam. I can’t determine if it’s been stubborn resistance, or more likely simply being stuck- but Wesley has been breech for some time. I distinctly recall sitting on the porch with Hunter one evening, and feeling a massive shift- he had been very active around that time- but it was clearly becoming more and more cramped in his, uh, apartment. That was the last time he flipped, and I believe that he was growing at such a rate that he became lodged in that position- though it is possible that he just liked it there. He would be closer to my voice as well as others, my heartbeat, etc. It was probably more interesting to be upright, if perhaps not as comfortable.
Anyway, for whatever reason he remained there, and became so large that he certainly could no longer move out of that spot even if he’d wanted to. I was thinking that perhaps i would have to welcome him into this world with major surgery, which of course has its plusses and minuses. Really though- I’d rather not have to deal with recovering from a C-Section when I should be 100% focused on bonding with my offspring. The hope was to have what’s known as an “external cephalic version”, which is a fancy way of saying that a doctor or midwife pushes as hard as they can on your stomach (and I mean as HARD AS THEY CAN) and then twist the baby into the “correct” position for birth.
Most of the time, the success rate for this procedure is about 60%. There are certain factors that increase the likelihood of success:
1) If the baby is on the small side (Of course Wesley is in the 60-70th percentile of size, so that’s a big no)
2) If they do it early, say 36 or 37 weeks (And again, nope. Mine was to be performed at 39 weeks… oops)
3) If the mother has an exceptional quantity of amniotic fluid (Noooope)
4) If the child is not the mother’s first (well, crap)
5) If the baby is transverse (One guess…… nope!)
6) A conveniently placed placenta (sadly, and predictably, no!)
Given these circumstances, the doctors gave me an “optimistic” 30% chance of the procedure working. I did have a *few* things going for me. He had not entirely dropped, though he did have a leg wedged in my pelvis. He was not a multiple (twin, triplet), I did have a “fair” amount of amniotic fluid, and I didn’t have any severe risk factors that would cause conceivable issues (gestational diabetes, etc).
After an initial exam and quick ultrasound to make sure he was still head-up in the normal OBGYN, they shipped me over to labor and delivery where a nurse ultrasounded me again, asked me a ton of questions, and hooked me up to an IV in my hand (which was new for me). After a while, the doctor came in and poked around, scanned me again to see his exact angle, took Wesley’s heart rate, etc etc. Then they gave me a drug which was apparently used at one time for asthmatics. It relaxes the smooth muscle of your body, which makes it ideal for preventing contractions as well as staving off an asthma attack. The one severe side effect it has is causing one to feel as though they’ve had about 16 shots of espresso in the space of about 30 seconds. They warned me about this, though I’d already read about it beforehand- and indeed, afer about half a minute (and mid-sentance) I suddenly trailed off and “whoa”d because I was indeed suddenly and overwhelmingly overcome with a rocket-powered heart rate. It felt like my vision tunneled a bit, I got a HUGE adrenaline rush, and my scalp started sweating all *BAM* at once. it was pretty intense. Fascinating, too.
The doctor got to work pretty fast and started bearing down on my stomach right underneath Wesley so he could lift him *up* towards my ribcage, then invert him. He used what Hunter described as Karate hands- I couldn’t see what he was doing but I could sure as hell feel it. After hefting him up, the doctor spun him a few degrees so that his head was at about 11 O’ Clock. He paused to comment that he was moving far better than he had hoped, and then resumed. The more he pushed the more uncomfortable it became.
When I think of the word “pain” I think of a sharp stabbing sort of feeling- so I initially couldn’t decide whether to call this “pain”. It was monstrously unpleasant, that’s for sure. The doctor (according to Hunter) was putting all his strength into this, and was sweating and shaking from the effort. He was pushing down on my abdomen SO hard that I thought he might punch through to my spine. For real.
But I could feel him turning, so I knew something was happening, and so I just tried my best to breathe. The Dr. stopped again and I think he took a quick scan- I was kind of out of it at that point- but I do remember him saying “Am I good or what?” to his nurse. Ha! Good indeed! They hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor and made me hang out for about an hour, and then sent me on my way. My stomach feels like one big bruise, but it’s totally worth it. The nurse seemed very impressed with my tolerance for discomfort, which made me feel pretty badass.
So it worked- Wesley has now been officially turned head down and I will NOT have to get a C-Section (barring unforseen disaster) – and I am absolutely delighted about that. I can feel his little cramped “kicks” (more like nudges now) in the places that they “should” be, and it’s totally comforting. I’ve been told my stomach even looks different, though I still just feel like a land monster.
Additionally, with all those ultrasounds they were doing, I cannoodled them into getting me a couple more printed pictures. I’ve never seen ultrasounds of a “full term” baby, and he looks REALLY weird- but that’s what you get when you take a photo with sound waves.
So I’m back at work and just twiddling my thumbs here. I’m really anticipating going into labor and I just can’t wait to be back to my old self again- only with a new person living in the house! Woo!