He was breech (butt first) and so we spent the last several weeks trying everything we could to get him to turn over. (Chinese "moxibustion" which involves the use of heat via an herbal cigar type-thing placed near a pressure point by the mothers pinky toenail. Acupuncture which involves stimulating the same point with needles, and in our case mild electric pulses, the "Webster" technique where the lower back/pelvis is adjusted by a chiropractor to relieve tension and make room for the baby to move, and Guatemalan method which involves using a scarf around the hips to shake them while in a very uncomfortable position).
Just in case none of that worked we made an appointment with a doctor for another ultrasound and consultation to discuss our options depending on his exact position. Fortunately for us our midwife knew of a doctor who could do a vaginal breech delivery (one of just a small handful in the area), which was great because we wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs.
The day came and he was still breech so we went to the appointment. The ultrasound showed he was in the correct position to deliver him without a c-section, so that became an option. We were impressed with the doctor, Robert Silver, because of his respect for natural childbirth and the preferences of parents. I big plus was the fact that he hasn't done an episiotomy (scissor cut of Mom's privates) in 10 years. We also discussed the possibility of doing a crude "external version" which meant grabbing Mom's belly and flipping him by force, which not surprisingly has a smaller rate of success than the other methods we were using. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a try since our intention was to have the baby at our birthing center rather than a hospital and our midwife doesn't do breech deliveries. In addition Doctor Silver assured us that if the version didn't work he was willing to a vaginal delivery. He said there would be a slightly higher risk than with a c-section, but not enough for him to recommend against it if it was what we wanted.
We scheduled the version for the next morning at 8. That morning Catherine mentioned feeling a slight change in the sensation accompanying her false contractions which were now quite routine. As a precaution she decided to mention this before undergoing the proceedure and upon examination we were told she was in labor! She had already dilated 2-3 centimeters and it was pointless to try to turn him.
They admitted her and within an hour or so we met with Doctor Silver who broke her bag of waters to get things going a little. Well that got things going a lot! Let's just say that within roughly 3 hours Catherine was having very intense contractions and when the intern came in and saw what she was experiencing did another exam and stated: "The baby is coming through the cervix". As fast as I could change into scrubs we headed to the OR, Catherine yelling like a banshee all the way. When we arrived we were greeted by 11 people as this would be a relatively rare proceedure and somewhat of a curiosity. Two more contractions passed with more fireworks and now it was time to push. In approximately 8 contractions with Catherine bearing down Seymour was out! He was as sweet and quiet as could be and just made a little sound as he came out to announce himself and then was just calm and peaceful finding her breast right away (or as soon as they would give him back. Hospitals!) He scored two "9"s on his APGARS and one of the techs said Catherine was the happiest mom he had ever seen. And it was all drug-free! What a blessing.
We went into this wary of hospitals and overall had a pretty good experience, but not entirely. Here are some of the good experiences contrasted to the bad ones.
1. the hospital was very pro-breastfeeding and often asked Catherine how it was going, even sending a "lactation nurse" in to give pointers, answer questions, etc.
2. Doctor Silver. If everyone at at the hospital had been as open, non-manipulative, courteous and respectful as he was, our experience with the hospital would have been flawless.
3. Having a vaginal breech delivery.
4. Some of the staff was very nice and supportive. Even some who began acting strangly started out good.
Not so good
1. The nurse who while Catherine and I were discussing our options in case the version didn't work who interrupted us to say in the snottiest tone imaginable. "Oh, if the version doesn't work, you WILL be having a c-section". (answer: "Not according to Dr. Silver".
2. The same nurse who in the absence of a typed birth plan from us dutifully wrote down our instructions and then ignored them one and all. This meant the birthing team 1) Clamped and cut the cord immediately, after I stopped them as they were about to and asked them not to in the presence of said nurse. 2) Painfully pulled on the cord to remove the placenta rather than allowing Seymour to nurse immediately in order to stimulate contractions which would help work the placenta out naturally putting Catherine at risk for hemorrhaging.
3. The other nurse who attended us in the recovery room who told us we couldn't leave after the doctor said we could. She told us it was out of his jurisdiction and that the baby could DIE if we left. This over a condition that put .5% of infants at risk for it in danger - if the mother wasn't medicated for it during labor, which we had been. Of that .5%, 90% show symptoms within 24 hours after birth and we had been there 30 hours and shown none. She tried to scare us into staying another 6 hours, knowing full well it was our choice and questioning the authority of the only person in the hospital we felt we could trust. When that didn't seem to work she told us we couldn't leave because Seymour was premature! At 8+ pounds! And when that didn't work she said she couldn't page someone to discharge us until after her staff meeting. Well that didn't work either and after talking to a peds person with less of a need to control people, we left.
4. Getting near 50 visits over 30 hours at all times of day and night from random people including a girl there to take and sell us pictures of the baby, and one lady who was there just to make sure the bed was functioning properly. Rest and healing? Not likely!
Overall it was a good experience. After all, our first child was born! Plus we got to have a natural birth which was great even though it wasn't at a birthing center. It's just sad people are so sue-happy and that hospitals insist on doing things on such a large scale, stretching the patience and good sense of staff, making them paranoid, rushed, mean, impersonal, etc. Having said that there are times when a drug/surgery approach is needed. If only people could see that it's not nearly as often as those with a huge financial/ego stake in that model would have us believe!