Audrey’s Birth Story
Perhaps the title of this post should be my pregnancy story, as Audrey’s actual delivery was smooth and short. She was born via c-section on July 9, at 4:45pm, after my water broke and due to her breech position.
I had an exceptionally easy pregnancy. I barely had any nausea in my first trimester, only a week or so food aversion. Dear husband and I took a 3 week trip to China and Thailand towards the end of my first trimester, and I had no adverse reactions to a major dietary change, no major discomfort despite the 14 hour trans-Pacific flights, or any insufferable fatigue. Below is me at 10 weeks pregnant (showing either too much mango salad at lunch or the beginnings of a baby bump) outside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.
At 5 months pregnant, I ran a 5K competitive with my pre-pregnancy pace. At 6 months pregnant, I ran the Austin Statesman Capital 10K with a finish time 15 minutes longer than my personal record. That was my last running race during the pregnancy, though I ran regularly up until 30 weeks pregnant, when running more than 2 miles became an issue more for my bladder than anything else. The pregnancy was so easy that towards the end, I was sure my due date had to be wrong because no pregnant woman late in her third trimester could be feeling that comfortable. I did prenatal yoga weekly throughout my pregnancy, read about hypno-birthing, took advanced coping methods classes for child birth, in hopes of having a drug-free natural birth in order to provide the best start to life for baby Audrey and best route to recovery for myself.
Then at my 35 week prenatal appointment, there was a glitch. Baby Audrey was frank breech, meaning she had her butt instead of her head in my pelvis. In the State of Texas, only one doctor delivers breech babies vaginally, and he was in Denton, about a 4 hour drive from where we lived, and that seemed like an infeasible method to pursue a natural vaginal birth. I was shocked to find out about the breech position, but initially I wasn’t too concerned, as babies still turn head down on their own all the way until delivery. However, the probability of this occurring at full term (37 weeks) was only 3%. I started with non-invasive methods to try to coax Audrey to turn head down so that I could follow the plan of having a natural birth. First we tried lots of inversions and yoga poses, then slightly more aggressive measures like acupuncture and moxabustion. No dice. A little over 36 weeks I started seeing a chiropractor for the Webster technique for optimal baby positioning, and 4 sessions of treatment yielded no result. At this point my Ob/Gyn recommended getting a scheduled c-section date on the calendar, and being a low risk pregnancy, she agreed to wait until Audrey’s due date (instead of the standard practice of a scheduled c-section for breech babies at 39 weeks). At 39 weeks I sought out one more method for trying to turn Audrey head down, the external cephalic version. Since I never went into active labor with Audrey before she was delivered, I have to say the ECV was probably the most uncomfortable thing I experienced through pregnancy, having a 200 lb man pressing on your pregnant stomach at full force, giving the sensation of an extreme rug burn. The procedure was not pleasant for Audrey, either, as it turns out. Her fetal heart rate slowed down to almost a stop (and the medical team around me was starting to prepare me for an emergency c-section) before resuming back to normal after 2 minutes.
At this point I had to resign to the fact that the pregnancy was not about me and my expectations and desires, it was about her. I informed all immediate family about the scheduled c-section date, did some last minute nesting, stocked up on frozen foods… Then on the Monday night before the scheduled Friday c-section, I felt some trickling of fluid every time I stood up. I had been told in birth classes that water breaking as a way to initiate labor only occurred in 10% of pregnant women and that it would be a significant amount of water. Also, I had an Ob/Gyn weekly appointment the next morning, so I wasn’t concerned and went to bed (luckily slept for 8 hours straight, which turned out to be a blessing because that would be the last long stretch of sleep I would have for a long long time).
Tuesday morning rolled around and my Ob/Gyn performed one last ultrasound to check baby’s position before the scheduled c-section on Friday. Audrey was still frank breech, but it was also discovered that my amniotic fluid levels were low, and that the trickling I felt the night before was indeed a sign that my water had broken. My doctor turned to me and said, “Are you ready to have this baby today? Because it looks like she’s ready!”
We quickly drove home to pick up our hospital bag and off to Labor & Delivery we went. I felt extremely emotional, since I had expected to be pregnant until that Friday, I was almost somewhat unwilling to let go. Pregnancy, despite the extreme ways it changes your body, is such a unique time in life. I was going to miss that bump, despite how heavy and cumbersome it had gotten towards the end of the pregnancy.
Upon arrival at he hospital I was informed that the surgery had to wait since I had a small breakfast that morning. I had to wait 8 hours after eating anything before the c-section could ensue. So after a long wait in a triage room where Audrey’s heart rate and my contractions were continuously monitored, we were rolled into the operating room at 4:20pm. There I was given the spinal block, rolled onto the surgical table, and Dr. Cohen and her team got to work. I was numbed from chest down, but fully awake and alert during the procedure. When they say c-sections are quick, they were not kidding. She was delivered 25 minutes later at 4:45pm, to the tune of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” My husband had turned on the Ben Howard Pandora station for me to relax during the operation, since the biggest surgery prior to the c-section I had ever experienced was getting my wisdom teeth removed. We made it through two relaxing songs, then baby girl made her ironic entrance with The Rolling Stones. A birth to the tune of a song about death, yes baby girl has a dry sense of humor, indeed.
I heard a loud cry, followed by some of my own light sobbing. This was it, 9 months of growing a human being and I finally get to meet her. And there she was, tiny and pink and squishy, 7 lbs and 8 oz, 19 inches ready for the world. I was a mom.
We were unable to initiate skin-to-skin in the operating room due to hospital policies, but we did initiate breastfeeding in the post operation recovery room, about 40 minutes after the surgery.
I later heard from my husband that the first thing Audrey did upon entrance into this world was poop and pee when the cold air of the operating room hit her. The nurses were surprised, and daddy was happy he had saved 33 cents on a diaper.
The photo on the left below shows me at 39 weeks 5 days pregnant, right before I got in the car with my husband to head to the hospital. We had just found out at my weekly Ob/Gyn appointment that my amniotic fluid levels were low, and that Audrey would be joining us that afternoon outside the womb. The photo on the right shows me and Audrey on her 4th day outside the womb.