Giving birth to Bronson wasn’t exactly how I envisioned. In my mind, I saw a quiet birth at home laboring in a bath filled with relaxing oils and lit by candles. Charles and I took Bradley Birth Method classes and I couldn’t wait to bring our son into this world together. I imagined depending on Charles for encouragement and I wanted him to play as much of a part in Bronson’s birth as possible. I wanted us both to deliver the best thing that had ever happened to us.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that nothing will be as imagined. At 32 weeks, I was told that my baby was transverse-breech. I remember laying in the bath the night before my 32-week midwife appointment and practicing a relaxation technique when I felt him turn sideways. I could feel his head and his bum on the sides of my belly with my hands. I was given some exercises by my midwife from the website Spinning Babies. She also gave me a list of suggestions I could try that included chiropractic adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, essential oils, and manual adjustment.
At our last birthing class, our instructor looked at me with heartbreak in her eyes and told me that I should begin to plan for a gentle C-section–just in case. I knew she was right. I revised my birth plan and prepared myself for a hospital birth that may include surgery. I cried so many times over the realization that I wouldn’t have the birth that I had dreamed. I prayed, I begged, I did headstands to try to turn this baby, but it felt like I might as well have been trying to move mountains. At 37 weeks I went into labor.
I went to my chiropractor for another adjustment; my third that week. As soon as I walked into the office, I went to the restroom to find that I had lost my mucus plug. Only I didn’t know it at the time. Just in case, I sent Charles a text to come home as soon as possible, but I didn’t tell him why. I had just left the chiropractor’s office when I had the overwhelming urge to stop and buy another giant pack of toilet paper. It was the night before a huge blizzard was going to hit the DC Metro area and the grocery stores were packed. I began having strong contractions in the grocery store. It must have been noticeable because, thank goodness, a cashier took pity and opened up a new checkout line just for me.
As soon as I got home, I called my midwife who confirmed that I may be going into labor. She told me to call her back if I saw any bright red blood and if so, not to delay coming into the hospital. The roads were already getting bad and I had a breech baby. Shortly after hanging up the phone, Charles walked through the door. I explained that we might be having a baby earlier than expected and that we need to make sure that the dog is walked and our bags were packed. I wanted to take a shower, but I wanted to take a bath to relax as well. As Charles walked the dog, I quickly showered and washed my hair, then I ran a hot bath with lavender oils, lit a few candles and got ready to relax. I was determined to have a small piece of the birth I had envisioned. But, fate had a different plan and just before I stepped into the bath, I noticed bright red blood. The universe was relentless, I thought to myself. So I pulled the plug and watched my ritual birthing bath go down the drain. I dressed and Charles packed a few more things to take to the hospital. I said a long goodbye to the dog since it would be the last time that she would be my baby. As we walked out the door, I snatched the Goddess aromatherapy necklace I had made earlier that day and placed a few drops of lavender right on the belly of the pendant. It was my last hope of bringing my dream birth to the hospital with me.
The usual 7-minute drive took us 20 minutes because the roads really were pretty bad already. I was checked in and sent back pretty quickly to triage. Once there the midwife Kelly came to see me. She said she could smell lavender down the hallway. “There must be a midwife patient here,” she said. A quick ultrasound confirmed that Bronson was still transverse and two OB’s were sent to try manual version. I had heard so many frightening stories about how painful manual version could be. In truth, it was no tickle fest, but it was tolerable. After an hour and a half of trying, the OB turned to me and said that she was sorry. Bronson wouldn’t turn. The anesthesiologist came to introduce himself and asked when and what I had eaten last. I said I had a huge meal an hour before. I lied, I had barely eaten that day, but it bought me some time. I prayed that labor would naturally turn my baby. I was allowed to labor until I was 5 cm dilated. At that point, the nurse could feel the baby’s hand or foot during a vaginal check and my time had run out.
I had come to terms with the fact that I would in all likelihood, deliver via C-section, or so I thought. I seemed to be taking it pretty well the midwife told me. That was until I began the walk down the hallway to the OR. It was really going to happen, I thought. A small part of me always believed that this baby would turn. While walking towards the cold and sterile room where my baby would be born, I started to cry. I was helped onto the OR table and the anesthesiologist began to explain the spinal block procedure. Then I completely lost all control of my emotions, the midwife held me as tears poured down my cheeks and I sobbed uncontrollably. She held my hand as I was prepped for surgery, and reviewed my C-section birth plan with the OB. Charles came to be by my side just before the surgery started. I had earbuds in while listing to relaxing meditation music, as suggested by the midwife. But after a few minutes, I took the earbuds out. I didn’t want to feel like I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted to be present while my baby was born; even if it felt like a bad dream. Seconds later, I heard my baby cry for the first time. I started crying again. Not because he was born via C-section but because he was born. I laughed and cried tears of joy. It was then that it hit me. I hadn’t seen him yet but knew I loved him just by hearing his cry. It didn’t matter how Bronson came into this world. I loved him just the same.