On Monday I posted the first of three cesarean birth stories. Today’s story comes from Maggie McGovern who took Cori Gentry’s class in Carmel, CA. This is a great story that shows how education can truly help empower women to make informed decisions in their birth. I loved hearing Maggie’s story and hope you do too! Here is Maggie’s story:
I did Cori’s birthing boot camp class in Carmel, CA and loved it. I planned on doing a home birth with two midwives and met with them for 8 months and all was good until they suspected my baby might be breech. I was at 37 weeks and got an ultra sound and sure enough he was breech. This is when I had a rude awakening. I learned that no one does vaginal breech births locally unless it’s a surprise and the babies already coming out. And it’s illegal for midwives to do it. I learned a lot about breech births in a few days and talked to various midwives with various opinions. I tried every natural flipping method you’ve heard of. I considered going to another state to have midwives deliver my baby or going to LA to find the one doctor is heard of who does vaginal beeches in CA. Finally I decided to get a version and it was horrible. The doctors pushed and pulled so hard I can’t imagine it’s good for the baby. And he didn’t turn. So I talked to a very well respected doctor about having her try more gently. So I did another version which was much better as she was skilled and compassionate. But no go. So then I called San Francisco looking for hospitals that do vaginal breech births and found one but it was a student hospital and after my first version that involved students I was not going to do that. So I talked to Sutter hospital at Davis and they sounded great. They have a very low Cesarean rate and do many of the things I had on my birth plan like skin to skin. And they do vaginal breech births for qualifying women. I went up on a Sunday (the day after I called!) and got an MRI to see if my hips qualify for vaginal breech birth.
On Tuesday early morning before I had gotten the results my water broke. I didn’t know what to do because Davis is about a 4 hour drive from me. But I wasnt having any contractions and my midwife said she’d drive up with me and a friend so I decided to head up there and if necessary stop and deliver at the hospital in San Francisco! On the way up I talked to Davis and they said I could do a trial by labor despite my MRI showing slightly small hips. So up we went, got a hotel and then my contractions began. They got closer and much more intense and we went to the hospital. Thirty hours later after staying dilated at 3 cm, and being exhausted and worried about the baby being ok the doctor said, we might want to consider a cesarean. Of course I’d wanted a vaginal natural birth so badly but having read all about cesareans, feeling fully informed, having prepared for this possibility, knowing these doctors had tried everything and knowing they wanted to only do cesareans if necessary and having them be so kind and gentle, keeping me in control the whole time, I decided it would be safer for the baby. I actually felt uplifted by the decision because since the birth wasn’t going well I was so scared for my baby’s health. The doctors told me all about what they do and how they do skin to skin right away and never take the baby from the room and my partner could hold him if I need to rest while they stitch me up. They offered me options and never pushed anything on me or my baby. I trusted them and felt held and cared for.
I was still terrified as I had never had surgery in my life. And it is a very scary weird experience to have people operating on you and to hear it! But the anesthesiologist was amazing and talked to me the whole time, distracting me and comforting me. My partner was there the whole time holding my hand. And when I heard my baby boy I was so thrilled and relieved and knew it was all worth it and then they brought him right to where we could see him so my partner could cut the cord and then they gave him to me! It was incredible. I held him and then my partner took him as I was pretty shaky. He brought him to my dad and friend that was there (since I knew I was in such good hands I had told my midwife she could go home after I was checked into the hotel). And then I was all sewn up they brought me to them and he nursed right away and looked so healthy! I couldn’t have been more happy, relieved and grateful for his health and such a great support system and staff. I knew we’d all tried all we could and in this case a cesarean was best. And the surgeon told me when I asked about the surgery that my baby had been stuck in a horn in my uterus and may not have been able to be delivered vaginally. Which was the sense I was getting when I was in labor since he just felt stuck. Then we stayed at the hospital for 3 days and had supportive staff helping me which was awesome for nursing help and recovery from surgery. Different doctors and nurses came in and gave me tips and advice because it was all so new to me and it was very helpful.
Don’t get me wrong it is major surgery and very painful and frustrating to not be able to walk easily and to be bed ridden for awhile but it was all worth it knowing my baby was healthy. And now, 5 months later, I am amazed at how the body heals and I still know it was the best decision as my son thrives. I think the keys to a good cesarean are trusting ones doctor or doctors, being given power, respect and choices by the staff, having a place that is aligned with your values and birth plan and goals. This made it all smooth and easy despite my worry. And they were all so friendly which helps a ton. They were woman and baby focused not doctor focused. And they followed my lead and I looked to them for expertise. It was the perfect medical relationship in my mind. So it left me so grateful for the option of having a healthy, smooth, empowering cesarean.