About one year ago I experienced a miracle. At 38.5 weeks of pregnancy, my second daughter was still determinedly breech. I say determinedly because I had (with increasing desperation) been trying everything to get her to “head” for the exit.
My pregnancy had been a relatively easy one thus far, so when I headed into the final trimester and she was breech, I knew she still had plenty of time to turn. My obstetrician is a warm easygoing woman who, while not ordering excessive tests, can’t resist “sneaking a peek” with the ultrasound if she happens to see a patient in a room with the machine. At 32 weeks she sang out “Oh, she looks great!…Plenty of time and room to turn.” At 34 weeks “Hmmm… she’ll probably still turn,” at 36 weeks “She could still turn, but…let’s discuss your options.” The tone in the room was much more business- like. Ugh.
My options included scheduling a c-section right then & there. Not really my style. Attempting a vaginal delivery of a “known breech”- an option at my academic medical center, but riskier for the babe and not really the standard of care. A risk level I wasn’t comfortable with. And then there was the intriguing option of external version. This involves medication to relax the uterus, greasing up your belly, and having a couple of docs “push-pull” your baby in an attempt to flip ’em. I was a relatively good candidate for this procedure (and I really didn’t want a section) so I researched it ad nauseam (totally typical for me;). After weighing the risks, my husband and I agreed to take more of a “wait & see” approach, although the window for “options” was getting smaller and smaller. My ob was completely supportive of our decision.
I say “wait & see” but- who are we kidding? This was only the beginning of my antics to get this girl to flip. Starting around week 35 I was googling, reading, questioning, and figuring that anything “non-invasive” couldn’t hurt. There were some reasonable attempts: visits to the chiropractor (see Webster technique), sleeping positions, & relaxation. Some silly attempts: frozen peas & flashlights anyone? And the last-ditch efforts: Yup, I was that 9 months pregnant chick you saw dangling upside down from the monkey bars contemplating whether or not to send her two-year old for help when she couldn’t “crunch” herself back up! “Lassie, where are you…”
But this one day, November 25th, 2009 to be exact, my second daughter and I took part in an experience almost as profound and intimate as her birth. With my firstborn down for her nap, I desperately needed to be getting in the shower before heading out to a luxurious late pregnancy pedicure. I was suddenly overcome with the most intense sleepiness. I simply HAD to lie down on the couch. I did, telling myself it was only for a moment and of course, as the expectant mom, my hands naturally came to rest on my belly.
I carry my pregnancies rather compactly and was so familiar with this little one’s every bump. Sure enough, I palmed the roundness of her head- soundly nestled under my rib cage. “Hi sweetheart,” I breathed. As I had frequently over the past few weeks, I pressed my other hand under her bottom that was stubbornly trying to lodge itself in my pelvis. We rested like that for a moment as my breathing slowed. Then she seemed to sort of stretch and lift her rear almost imperceptibly. In my mellow trance-like state, I remember keeping my hand cupped against her head as it seemed to drift to my outer rib cage. Ever so slowly she maneuvered until she was noticeably sideways in my belly. Suddenly filled with quiet resolve, but not wanting to break the spell, I quietly kept my hands pressed in position, trying to ensure she didn’t go back the way she came. And then, pressure, as she seemed to slide into that more familiar position. I blinked, waking up from a dream. I was pressing my belly quickly now- trying to get a purchase on that little round skull I was used to. I simply couldn’t find that same roundness. And I could breathe:). I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I had imagined this turn before & been wrong. Could it be this time? As I rose to make my way to the shower there was no denying a different “weight.”
After my shower, I couldn’t restrain myself any longer and called my ob. She said with an audible smile “You’re probably right… Moms usually know. But let’s confirm it just to be sure.” She was going out-of-town unexpectedly, but told me to “sneak” into the maternal evaluation room the next morning and one of her favorite residents would look with a quick ultrasound.
Sure enough, the next morning the resident and a tentative med student experienced the full glory of my tears of joy & relief as they confirmed that my little girl had flipped!
I feel like that special day was when I truly first “met” my second daughter. True to form, she kept us guessing, but really pulled it off in such a sweet special way.
A few days later on Thanksgiving, her big sister was able to announce to our family, “She turned! Baby sister turned!” I am so thankful for that priceless memory.
Do you have any “pregnancy miracle” memories? I would LOVE to hear about them.
P.S. She stayed put for another week and a half to the day. Stay tuned for a birth story or two if you dare…