- Christi Stoltzfus
The Arrival of June Frances
The little lady was breech. She may have been the entire time--I don't know, but in all the sonograms, she was breech. This broke my heart. I had a very strong desire for a vaginal birth, but because this was our first child, my OBs were not open to me trying a vaginal birth with a breech baby. Christi suggested several resources for helping her flip: I did lots of elbow stands, lay with my hips high and my head low, and saw the acupuncturist that she recommended...and we tried Moxibustion. David lit that moxa cigar and held it to my toes every day for two weeks. And nothing worked. At 37 weeks the OBs attempted to manually flip her (ECV), and Christi went with me that morning. I was nervous, but Christi had such a calm presence, and that helped so much. As the doctors attempted the flip, Christi stayed right by my side as a voice of reassurance in my ear.
But, the ECV didn't work. To say that I was bummed is an understatement. We didn't know why she was breech. Was it because of my unicornuate uterus? We did know that the little lady was small, and because of that and that I'm older, the OBs wanted to induce or cesarean at 38 weeks (I was told that there’s an increased chance of stillborn past 38 weeks--based on my circumstances). So, I gave in and was scheduled for a cesarean.
Christi kept checking in on me over the next week to see how I was doing. I cried a lot, but she helped me prepare by focusing on a holistic cesarean approach. Christi sent resources to help us re-craft our birth plan to include vaginal seeding, delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin, the IV to be placed in the non-dominate arm, we asked to avoid drowsy medications, we wanted a low-transverse incision, and for things to be explained to David and I as it was happening. I felt, with Christi’s guidance, that there was at least some way to make a major abdominal surgery more about the welcoming of our little girl into the world.
Then, two days before the scheduled date of her "arrival," the OB told us that she would try the ECV again (I had been very vocal about really wanting a vaginal birth). The new plan was to give me an epidural to try a second ECV--this time in the OR. The epidural would help relax my abs and make the flip easier. If successful, they’d induce. If we were unsuccessful, we would go straight into a cesarean.
The BIG morning came, and they tried again to flip her. About half way, June's heart rate dropped...and then took what seemed like five minutes to get back to normal. No joke. It might have only been three. But, it hovered around 60 bpm, and then slowly climbed to 100 bpm. Once it was finally high enough, the OB asked if they should continue. David, who could see the scared faces of the doctors and nurses, begged me not to. So, we didn't. And we went ahead with the cesarean.
Turns out that inside my oddly-shaped uterus, I had a breech baby with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times. So, it's a good thing that we didn't continue to try to flip a tangled-up, tethered-up baby. Even if they had been able to flip her, she probably wouldn't have come out with that much around her neck.
June Frances came out screaming and peeing, and totally healthy and strong on April 30th. She was 5 lbs and 13 ounces, 18 ¾ inches long. She’s breastfeeding, and now gaining weight like a champ.
It seems that a cesarean was our destiny, and I'm now OK with that. I feel like we were well informed, and did as much as we could do—without risking June’s life--to have a vaginal birth. With Christi's help, I feel like we were able to prepare for the cesarean in such a way so as to make it as "natural" a process as possible.
After experiencing Christi’s soothing way by my side for the first ECV, I was sure we had made the right decision in choosing her as our doula. I felt totally confident that if somehow June could flip, we would have all the labor support we’d need for a vaginal birth. As it turned out, in Christi, we had all the support we could need for a cesarean birth too.