“I just can’t do it anymore” I whispered to Kevin early Sunday morning.
With a grand total of 7 hours of sleep throughout the weekend and too many tears to count, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
While at the hospital last Wednesday for an external cephalic version, we found out Sweet Pea was head down already and we didn’t have to go through with the appointment.
Friday arrived and I was fairly certain that Sweet Pea turned breech again sometime that afternoon. I was both frustrated and amused at my baby’s insane movements this late in pregnancy.
I was thankful to have avoided the version attempt, especially since the baby clearly would have gone breech again after what would most likely have been a painful and stressful experience.
Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps Sweet Pea’s return to breech meant that there was a reason why he couldn’t stay head down. My chiropractic appointments, moxibustion and various flipping techniques had definitely encouraged the baby to move down, but given the chance, he was happy to go right back up again.
Sleep was difficult that night as thoughts and anxieties collided in my brain. I resigned myself to the fact that the baby was going to do what it wants, but various scenarios and what-ifs still ran through my mind as the hours passed.
While watching a movie with Kevin on Saturday night, I remarked that Sweet Pea hadn’t moved that much that day. The baby is usually very active at night, especially after dinner, but I hadn’t felt anything – for hours.
The movie played on and I grew more anxious as the time passed and I still felt nothing from the baby.
“Can you try talking to the baby again?” I asked Kevin.
Usually whenever he does, Sweet Pea will respond immediately.
We tried a few other things that worked in the past and still there was no movement. I couldn’t help but think that Sweet Pea’s twisting and turning all over the place had caused the cord to wrap too tightly around the baby.
We were both pretty anxious at this point, and after leaving a message with our prenatal care group, we headed to the hospital to get checked out.
I was hooked up to a fetal monitoring system in the triage room and thankfully Sweet Pea’s strong heartbeat could be heard a few seconds later.
Our nurse assured us that many babies exit the womb with their cord wrapped around the body, but with my history, she was glad we had come in to get checked out. She determined that perhaps Sweet Pea’s awkward positioning is what caused the decreased fetal movement.
After a 20-minute non-stress test, Jan, the midwife on call that night, arrived in the room and declared that Sweet Pea looked picture perfect. Before leaving, she examined me and also confirmed that the baby was indeed breech again.
“It’s such an unusual case” she said emphatically in her lilting British accent. “You must have not read the same textbook as the rest of us, darling.”
First-time moms rarely have babies flipping this much at nearly 40-weeks pregnant, and the fact that I also have a bicornuate uterus – which usually creates less space in the womb for baby – also adds to the absurdity.
“I think the only time I’ve ever seen this is when I worked in Europe with Irish mums going on their tenth child!”
I took it as a compliment to my fertile nature, but couldn’t help but think my uterus had just been likened to that of Michelle Duggars’.
She glanced down at my feet dangling at the edge of the bed.
“How tall are you then?” she says.
Standing at 5 feet 10 inches, Jan thought that perhaps my longer torso also gave me an edge in the larger-womb department.
Your baby isn’t even lying like a normal breech,” Jan’s eyes widened as she felt around some more. “It’s almost as if he’s sitting in a chair.”
Sweet Pea’s head was pressed against my right rib, with the butt to the left of my belly button and the legs dangling in all directions. Because of the constant movement, she declared that this baby wasn’t even considered a breech, but as having an unstable lie. At any given time he could be breech, transverse, oblique or vertex. A ferris wheel, indeed.
We briefly discussed our birthing options. Clearly, if baby was anything but head down going into labor, I’d require a c-section.
Yet if we could get the baby down before labor began, perhaps I could quickly be induced before Sweet Pea boarded the ferris wheel once more.
Starting an intervention like this was never part of my ideal birth scenario, but it did provide the chance of vaginal birth. And a small chance for vaginal childbirth was much better than a 100% chance of c-section due to unstable lie.
She checked my cervix for dilation, but it was still tight and closed. While it didn’t really matter given the baby was currently breech, it also meant that if baby was head down, I couldn’t be induced anyway as conditions weren’t favorable.
Coincidentally, we were scheduled to see Jan the following Monday for my 40-week appointment, so she told us to hold tight and we’ll see what happens come Monday.
I slept maybe 4 hours that night, gaining an hour more than the night before.
My eyes were red from crying and my glands growing swollen from the exhaustion.
“I’m ready to schedule a c-section,” I told Kevin. “I just can’t handle this anymore. I’m not sleeping. I’m exhausted. This is just too much.”
After much discussion, we decided that depending on the baby’s position at Monday’s 40-week appointment, we would schedule a c-section for Wednesday.
I knew I was giving up, but also felt that I needed to get myself physically and emotionally stable to prepare for life with a newborn.
With our decision made, I felt a little more in control and spent the day lounging around the house and not bothering with any of my usual turning-baby techniques. While I normally avoided the couch and sat down on my exercise ball or the floor, on this day, I slouched.
At the end of the night, I couldn’t help but feel that Sweet Pea had moved once more. Kevin thought he may have felt the head, but wasn’t sure.
“It is what it is,” we said.
I got more sleep that night than I had all weekend.
We had our 40-week appointment today, and as it only could be – Sweet Pea is once again confirmed to be head down.
Jan said that my cervix has definitely progressed since Saturday night’s check – but there’s still no dilation. If I were to be induced today, I’d face a 40% chance of it ending with a c-section.
Kevin and I also don’t feel comfortable scheduling a c-section knowing that Sweet Pea is head down again, so we’re set up to go back to the office on Thursday to once again confirm position and check for dilation.
While Sweet Pea may be on a ferris wheel, it feels like we are on a roller coaster.
As of today, we’d like to make it to 41 weeks before considering any interventions – whether it be scheduling an induction or c-section, and hope that birth will progress on its own.
And as we’ve said all too frequently in the past days, it is what it is.