Edited to add: I want to rewrite this story someday. Even though I had a VBAC (and then another!) after Titus’ birth, the details of his arrival are still raw and difficult. My heart went to deep, dark places that I’m sure only God witnessed and could comfort. However, I’m going to leave this very straightforward post as it is for now, because – even four and a half years later – some of the pain is still too raw. I don’t know if my recovery will ever be fully complete, but I do have hope for that.
After a well-planned first birth – resulting in an empowering vaginal delivery at 42 weeks with my first son – I assumed I had already done all the work and would be able to coast through my second pregnancy and birth. I even kicked things up a notch by switching to our newly opened, local birth center. I was sure that change would ensure an even better birth.
However, as I was in amazingly textbook labor at 41+5 weeks, when the midwife checked me right before transition (I believe), she felt baby feet – not a baby head. This meant my baby was in a footling breech position and immediately “risked out” of the birth center. An ultrasound after our transfer to the hospital confirmed her findings. And to make matters worse, the cord was floating low, near the feet. I knew that meant cord prolapse was a concern, and we were offered a cesarean section.
I had a “good” cesarean in regards to my personhood in the moment. I really did. I was respected, included and there was a focus on my baby being born. But, I endured major surgery to birth my baby and it was painful. There were conversations happening that I didn’t encourage. The “slight tugging” as they maneuvered my baby through the incision took my breath away and I had to use every ounce of strength to not cry because I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe (I had been fighting a cold). At least six other people touched my baby before I did. Found his adorable ear tag, admired his beautiful face and felt every square inch of his body before I even saw him. I missed that rush of euphoria when my baby left my body that I had experienced with my first. I loved him – oh! I loved him SO much – but it felt strangely different. He was gorgeous and fat (you know, that amazing baby chunk) and he was mine. But I felt so removed from the process. Helpless and sick – literally nauseous from hormones and the anesthesia.
To compensate, I breastfed him for the first 12 hours of his life – literally. I propped myself up all night long with a million pillows supporting us and switched him carefully from one side to the other.
I am so grateful for many things: I had a smooth recovery. No infections, no lingering pain, no secondary infertility. I have been through this now and can empathize directly with other women, can prepare my clients if they need a cesarean and can relate to those who have had surgical births. I am thankful – NOW – for my journey. Not specifically for the way he was born, but for the things that have happened since his birth. The way I have grown as a woman, a mother and a doula. The way my perspective has changed for the better. I became part of our local International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) chapter and connected with a supportive community.
Does this story have a moral, a point? Maybe not. But maybe if I had to search for one, I would make sure that every pregnant woman KNOWS about cesareans, why they happen, what increases the chances of birthing this way and what choices you have if the situation arises.
With that, watch his amazing birth video (don’t worry, nothing graphic) and know that – no matter how much you grieve the way your baby may have entered the world – he is a miracle, a blessing and your life is richer because he is in it!
After planning a natural birth center birth for our second baby, we were surprised to find out that he flipped to double footling breech during labor. Deciding to change our plans to a c-section birth was difficult but we are so glad to welcome our second miracle baby into our family. We are also thankful to family and friends who brought us joy and support through the process. We love you Titus!