I woke up in June of 2015 feeling different…
I was nearly thirty-nine weeks pregnant, but my middle felt like it was a different shape and all of the baby’s movement were in different places.
At my next checkup, my midwife found a little head up under my ribs.
She wasn’t worried. She said I had lots of fluid in there and time for baby to flip right back again.
I did things to help him get back to a better position. Nothing worked. I didn’t like getting kicked in the cervix. That hurts!
My due date at forty weeks came and went. So did forty-one weeks. The closer we got to forty-two weeks, the more frustrated I became. We talked about birth options. I was only willing to go to the hospital for a C-section if I felt it was truly necessary. I did lots of reading on the topic of breech birth, watched lectures and breech birth videos online, and spoke to women who had given birth breech. My midwife had attended vaginal breech births before. We felt that I was a good candidate to go ahead with a planned breech vaginal birth.
“This must just be the way he needs to come out,” I said. I could feel little feet wiggling down low in my womb.
I woke up at 2am one morning with vague memories of contractions during the night. I laid there for an hour and a half just resting and breathing through contractions every four minutes before texting my midwife.
I succeeded in dozing the rest of the night. At 6:30AM, I went downstairs and had breakfast. Then I went back upstairs and hugged my yoga ball on the floor. It felt soothing to rest on my knees and let my belly hang. A little after 7:30AM, I had a really strong contraction that almost made me feel like pushing. I texted the midwife saying, “You can come now!” She said she was already on her way.
She arrived a little after 8:00am with her assistant. They busied themselves setting up their supplies. I had read that breech labors can be even longer than usual. I felt like I probably still had hours yet to go.
Everyone decided to go downstairs so I could rest. I laid down, but then got up after a minute to use the bathroom. It was about 9:40AM. As I sat down on the toilet, my water broke. It took me completely by surprise. I called for my husband to tell the midwife. When it stopped gushing, I felt something coming out of me. My first thought was that the cord was prolapsing, but when I reached down I felt toes and a tiny heel. A foot!
Everyone was just coming back up the stairs when I came out of the bathroom. “There’s a foot!” I said. I waddled awkwardly back to my bedroom with the tiny foot sticking out of me. I asked for the birthing stool to sit on.
My midwife kept telling me not to push, to let the body come slowly in its own time. Baby kept wiggling his little toes. My husband climbed behind me to help hold me up as the urge to push got stronger. I huffed and puffed and blew and did my best not to push. My midwife listened to the baby’s heartbeat and said it sounded great.
The little right leg delivered all the way to the right butt cheek. Then his little body turned on its own and the other butt cheek came out, followed immediately by the left leg. It was an odd sensation having half of a little body hanging out of me. It seemed to me to be taking forever. When my midwife saw the umbilicus, she encouraged me to move to the floor on my hands and knees. She told me I could start pushing a bit as the chest appeared. She never laid a finger on him. We just let him come at his own pace. It was amazing to feel him twisting and turning on his own to come out through my pelvis. But it still hurt!
I pushed and pushed. Baby inched out little by little, sometimes like two steps forward and one step back. Finally, he was out up to his armpits, still no arms in sight. I gave a mighty heave and out he came all at once! He was born with both arms up over his head.
The midwife caught him as he shot out, but passed him through my legs in front to me. I sat back and pulled him to my chest. He was slippery and funny colors, as babies always are when they come out. He had a head just full of gorgeous dark curls.
I rubbed his back and talked to him. It took a minute, but he started making little grunts and finally took some breaths. He turned pink and let out a little cry. Someone handed me a warm towel. I sat and snuggled him and kissed him. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before we clamped and cut it. It had been only twenty minutes since my water broke. When the placenta was out, everyone helped me climb into bed.
A little while later, the midwife took him to the end of the bed to measure and weigh him. I heard everyone gasp. They had to show me the scale because nobody could believe it: 11 lbs., 6 oz.! He was 21” long with a 15 ¾ head and a 16” chest. What a huge baby!
I told my midwife, “Who would believe me? I had an eleven pound baby boy, with no drugs, born footling breech at home with his arms up over his head, and I didn’t even tear? Yeah right…” and we all got a good laugh from it.
I came away from his birth feeling victorious, just absolutely triumphant; the way every woman should get to feel about giving birth.