Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pull Up A Chair

And I'll tell you a story.

A story about the birth of my first child.

Once upon a time, I was a 34-week pregnant mother-to-be. It was nearly December, and I was full of anxiety. I wanted desperately to have a natural childbirth, to fully experience all the glorious details with nothing to dull my senses. I'd prepared for a natural childbirth in the best ways I knew how. So badly did I wish for this that when at my last ultrasound we were told the baby was breech, I was devastated. At that late date it was possible for a baby to turn head down, but not terribly likely, I was told.

I sought advice from Dr. Google, searching the web for any and all advice to get a baby to turn. I used strategically placed ice packs and radios. I tried to lay somewhat upside down on an inclined plane. I went to a chiropractor to be treated with the Webster Technique. I considered acupuncture when nothing else was working. I prayed endlessly. Nothing changed the baby's position, though.

On Thursday, December 8th, I was 36 weeks pregnant. I went to a prenatal appointment during which my doctor and I decided on a C-section date (unless the baby turned first). I went to a chiropractic appointment during which I sobbed to my chiropractor about the impending C-section date. I walked my feet off at the mall picking up the last of my Christmas shopping. I nested at home, worrying over the details of Christmas to take my mind off the worry about the baby's birth not going as I'd hoped.

That night, I was alone. My husband was out of town on his last scheduled business trip before the baby's due date. I sat on the floor of the living room, painting wooden bugs and flowers for the baby's room, enjoying the relaxation at the end of the day. When I went to bed, it was later than usual. As I laid my tired body down, I looked at the clock glowing beside my bed -- 10:35 PM.

As had become my ritual, I laid in bed and prayed. Over the past few weeks, my prayers had changed from those of frustrated begging to those of resigned faith. "My God," I whispered, "I know that this child rests in your hands, and whatever happens, I just want you to grant me the patience and trust to endure it. Support me through this time of uncertainty. If she doesn't turn, help me to accept it with grace and confidence. Erase my fear and replace it with trust, please Lord. But -- you know my heart. You know I'm still hoping for a miracle. I don't even feel like I need to tell you anymore; you just know. No matter what, just be with us. Help me be at peace with whatever outcome we're given." I'd somehow come to a tenuous sort of acceptance with the situation. I knew it would be OK, even if it wasn't my dream come true -- as long as it ended with a healthy, pink baby in my arms, that was all I could ask for.

I laid still for a little while longer, willing my mind to abandon it's whirling thoughts for sleep. Deep inside, down low, I felt or heard -- I still can't exactly place the sensation -- a tiny snap. Like a child's elastic hair band breaking. Like a small bubble of gum bursting. Like a soap bubble bumping against a surface and popping. Though I'd never felt such a thing before, I thought, "My baby...did my water just..."

I began to shift my weight, rolling to my side to check myself, but I didn't need to check. As soon as I moved, I felt the gush of warmth escape me. I fell to the floor on all fours, watching as the water kept coming. No position I put myself in could stop it; I stared at it in disbelief, not comprehending what had just happened.

Then, finally, my thoughts began racing. This isn't right! I'm only 36 weeks! Justin's in Pennsylvania...so far...what do I DO?? I began shaking. I'd studied and read about trusting my body and not dropping into panic at the first sign of labor -- after all, it was going to happen sooner or later.

But...this was too soon.

My normally organized mind couldn't grasp the situation long enough to analyze it. What to do next, how to behave, how to calm down...these things sifted through my brain without finding a foothold. One thought rose to the surface: Call Justin. I reached out -- still on my hands and knees at my bedside -- and grabbed the phone to dial my husband. Desperate to hear his voice, I waited through several rings before his voicemail picked up. It was midnight in Pennsylvania; he was fast asleep. I couldn't think long enough to leave a message.

Then, a vague memory of my doctor's final parting words from our earlier appointment: Go straight to the hospital if your water breaks. Since she's breech, her head isn't blocking the cervix and it's possible for the umbilical cord to slip out; don't waste any time calling me, just go.

With his words ringing in my ears, I resolved to do just as he'd said. Only...surely I couldn't drive myself? I was so shaky I could barely move, much less drive, so I called my parents' house. I let it ring and ring, tears of worry streaming onto the phone, but nobody answered. It was nearly 11:00 PM, and I knew my mom and dad were probably long asleep by then. They weren't going to hear the phone. I called 3 times and finally left a message, hoping they'd wake to my teary voice. When it became clear that nobody was listening, I dialed my brother, Eric. He'd be awake, for sure.

Hey. What?! Where's Justin? No way...OK, I'll be there in 5 minutes.

Even knowing my brother was on his way, I didn't calm down much. I could think of nothing reasonable, not what to wear, what to take to the hospital, nothing. With a towel between my legs, I waited for my brother to come rescue me.

See you tomorrow, same time, same place...

Part 2
Part 3


  1. Can't wait to hear the rest! My water broke w/my 2nd and she was foot first breech. Very traumatic and scary. But ultimately she was fine and so was I.

  2. Oh, I'm on pins and needles over here. I want to rush over to your house right away and help you. Sure, I'm an ocean away and four years too late, but seriously...I could at least make you a cup of tea, right?

  3. Son of a... !!! Why did you stop?? That was rude!

  4. What?! Oh, the suspense! Wow. Can't wait to hear some more!

  5. oh my stars.....I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight.
    When my water broke w/ Hayden {at the hospital}, I remember that exact weird snap feeling/sound...Jesse even heard it....I was like......umm...ouch? I feel like that should've hurt...but it didn't....and now I'm wetting the bed. great.
    Hah. Can't wait til tomorrow!

  6. Wow! Do you ever know how to keep your audience dying for more!

  7. AHH! I'm hooked! I don't know if I can make it to tomorrow to hear the rest!!

  8. Cliffhanger! I can't wait to find out what happens next!

  9. OK, ya'll. I'll have the next part up EARLY in the morning. For your convenience :)

  10. Wow, what a story!

    You really shouldn't do this to all of us fellow mommies who are joining you on this little labor trip!

  11. AAAHHH!!! How could you DO this to me???!!! Can't wait to hear the rest!

    I'm very anxious to hear if Mia was still breach. Tate was breach at my 36 week appointment, so I went in to the hospital at 37 weeks to have him manually flipped so I could try to have a natural birth and he ended up flipping on his own right before the doctor came in to flip him! I know it was totally because of everyone's prayers because I had tried a lot of those crazy techniques too!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?