So, I said I’d post about Ellis birth story. I’m not sure this is really in keeping with this blog, but it is pretty interesting so I thought I’d write it up.
Anyway, for some background I should say a little bit about Milo’s birth, which I don’t think I ever did talk about. Basically, it was amazingly fast and straightforward: waters broke first, Milo was born 6 hours later in the midwife led birth centre. I never had regular or particularly long contractions (known as ‘silent labour’ as I now know) but by the time I was assessed at the triage I was 8 cms dilated, and just had time to get into the birthing pool (which was amazing) have about ten shots of gas and air before I started pushing. The whole thing happened so quickly and in the middle of the night that it’s all pretty blurry and I really only remember it in fragments.
My hope for Ellis had been to have a similar experience, and all the way through I had no reason to think that wasn’t going to be possible. In fact the thing I worried about most was that it would be even faster and I wouldn’t make it to the hospital.
But then it all turned out a bit different. I had been told he was all head down and fine and dandy at every appointment, but at the last one the midwife wasn’t quite sure on his position so referred me for another scan in case he was breech. I was pretty shocked as I had not been in any way expecting that as even a possibility. There was a lot of randomly bursting into tears over the next day and a half, more than the previous year and a half. I initially tried to calm myself down on Tuesday morning as the midwife said that she was, and I quote, ‘99% sure it’s all fine’. But of course it wasn’t and the scan confirmed he was breech. It now looks like (from the shape of his head) that he had been that way for a long time rather than having turned at a late stage, so I do wonder how none of the midwifes that saw me managed to pick that up even as a possibility until the very last minute. But also very relieved they did pick it up cos otherwise it could all have ended very badly (which didn’t help the crying)!
The next day we had an ECV, which is a procedure to try to turn the baby. It’s usually done at 37 weeks and even then there’s only a 40% chance it’ll work, but it’s low risk so I wanted to try it. Basically you get given a drug to relax your womb and then two doctors find the head and bum of the baby respectively and push/pull to try to turn them. They only do it for 90 seconds at a time, and only give it three attempts, which doesn’t sound like anything, but it was so painful and 90 seconds is a long time! They did say they pushed as hard as it is possible to push, and all the yoga I’ve done over the years which helped me to slow down my breathing and relax individual muscles (it works better when relaxed) definitely helped me cope. I’m not sure my pre-yoga self would have made it beyond a minute into the first attempt! Anyway, it didn’t work which was probably to be expected given that there were quite a lot of factors reducing the chance of success, the most important of which was Ellis’ size – above 99% percentile. But I’m glad we tried it!
After that the options left were to either try for a natural breech birth, which while not recommended isn’t impossible, and they do have breech specialist midwives, but there’s risks of some horrible horrible stuff happening to the baby, and a good chance it’ll end in an emergency section anyway, or to have a scheduled c section, which is safe for the baby but has risks for the mum and obviously being major surgery needs a lot of recovery time afterwards.
If we had known about the breech earlier I might have done more research and felt differently, but at that point we agreed that the scheduled section was the way forward. I had been more open to the natural option because I was worried about how I would cope during the recovery time, but once we were told how big he was my mind was made up. If the likelihood was they were going to be cutting me up anyway, I wanted it to be done in a planned and organised way rather than while I was in agony and/or the baby was in trouble.
The surgery went ok in the end. It was all done slowly and properly and everything was explained to me (especially by the anaesthesists, who see to be on some kind of patient information drive – I had three people come see me to explain what was going to happen to me beforehand, th3 guy that actually did it, plus someone with a follow up satisfaction questionnaire. In contrast, the surgeons never really explained anything, or told me when they were about to take the baby out, which I expected they would). I didn’t cope with the anaesthetic well so I felt nauseous and my arms were shaking throughout the operation and I had to spend quite a long time in the recovery room afterwards while they were waiting for my blood pressure to stabilise from the anaesthetic. I actually quite liked that because a nurse stayed with us all the time and chatted while she was doing Ellis’ post birth checks. It was super weird when they put him on me though as I couldn’t obviously move my body at all, and my arms were shaking for quite a long time afterwards. Thankfully Ellis took to breastfeeding really easily and didn’t need any help once he was put in the right place.
I only had to stay in the hospital for a day and a half afterwards, got my own room and felt pretty well looked after in the post natal ward. With Milo in the birth centre I was put in a four bed room and then pretty much left to my own devices because it’s the same midwives looking after the labouring women, and obviously they take priority, so I was actually pleasantly surprised.
I’m now two weeks post-birth and am feeling like in another week I should be pretty much back to normal, so the recovery has gone a lot faster than I thought it would and it all seems to have worked out fine!