A Different Birth

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Just as is so often the case with sibling births, this story started long before the big day. Their first birth experience had left them feeling overwhelmed and with some questions about how it might have been different. Because she is a knowledge seeker, because he wants the best for his family, they decided to change their approach for the next birth.

And so we met, and they had all these hopes and she worked hard to overcome the worries that would pop up about the baby, the birth and everything.

Worries because birthing and parenting is real, and it is normal to be human.

Each time she started to feel nervous or anxious, she reached out, to talk it out, she tackled it, found ways to work through it.  

She is a warrior, she had this.

Mostly she was excited and determined to own this birth.

And then late in the pregnancy it became clear that this baby had gotten themselves into a bit of a pickle. Baby’s head was firmly lodged in her ribcage.

Now what?

We are fortunate in our Province to have so many Doctors who have the skills and earnestly support vaginal breech birth, so they were open to this, if that was the path and if it made sense.

Still holding onto hope that it would all work out smoothly, they went to the fetal assessment to see where exactly this baby had nested.

Sure enough baby’s head was not only lodged in her ribs, feet were pointing down and the umbilical cord, the lifeline for a baby in utero, was dangling down and coiled over her cervix.

Impossible scenario for a easy breezy vaginal breech birth.

Still, this birther did the research, consulted with her Obstetrical team, and eagerly tried. All. The. Things.

And this baby stayed put. Not even a smidgen of indication that a big flip was going to happen.

Now what?

Together as a team, they did more work. They turned themselves around and found a way to embrace a belly birth. This would be a different birth! It would be calm and it would be controlled. A necessary belly birth isn’t a bad thing after all, and this baby could only come out this one way. So this was good.

She didn’t just accept this path, she grabbed hold of it and owned it. She still wanted her Doula there, even though we knew it was unlikely I would be allowed in the delivery room, they wanted the support before and after.  She wanted the freedom to keep messaging and having someone to check in with.

She was still choosing a different birth than the one before.

The birth date was set, we would meet this baby on Thursday.  We were excited. On Sunday we met and talked over a few things.  I asked if anyone had told her what to do if in the very unlikely event her waters broke before the birth day?  No. Okay, so we talked that out.

And we made a plan for a calm and beautiful meeting of this baby.

Tuesday morning, 46 hours before the scheduled birth time, she was feeling some cramping and seeing some light mucus loss. Same as she had been off and on for the last few weeks. But she felt anxious this time.

She tried to get in to see her Doctor but that wasn’t possible.  So their son went to visit her mom and she spent some time focusing on centering and calming herself.

Later that day, 41 ½ hours before the scheduled birth time, she definitely lost her mucus plug!

Now what?

We talked it over, losing the plug doesn’t for sure mean labour is about to happen. But we agreed it felt like her body was prepping. So she would stay aware for other signs and we decided it was a positive thing that the timing of this birth was lining up with her body’s and her baby’s natural timeline.

Two hours later, 39 ½ hours before the scheduled birth time, she was having actual contractions. More plug loss, some show. The contractions weren’t strong but she had back pain too and they are coming every 3 to 7 minutes. I strongly encouraged them to meet me at triage to get a check over. If it was labour it was definitely early, she could still talk through them, they were less than a minute long, but as far as we knew her baby’s lifeline was sitting on top of her cervix.  Caution felt like a smart idea.

As we got ready to go they seemed to fade a bit, but then a few contractions in a row were stronger and closer together. So confusing!  

Two and a half hours later, 37 hours before the scheduled birth time, she was being assessed and told that her cervix was closed, thick and posterior.  No worries here. The Doctor did a quick bedside ultrasound to confirm that the baby and the cord were still in the same position. They were. The Nurses gave her some Tylenol to dull the discomfort of what she was feeling and we were sent home with instructions to return if anything changed.

Two and a half hours later, 34 ½ hours before the scheduled birth time, her waters broke! With force. With contractions that had never let up.

Now what?

She called and told me they were driving and she had checked for the cord before they left and didn’t think she had felt anything (good thing we had had that chat?). She was scared. This was not the plan.

He got her to the hospital in record time.  When they got there they told the admitting clerk what happened and were taken to an exam bed immediately, she remembers hearing someone say “it’s the footling breech mom, she burst!”

He ran back to park the car, passing me on the way.  As I got to her bedside, a whole team of medical staff surrounded her and were beginning to move her.  The Nurse who had examined her had hopped onto the exam bed and was keeping her hand at the cervix to prevent a prolapse. She was dilated to 2 cm and the cord was at the top of the birth canal!  We locked eyes and I told her she was in good hands. Breathe Mama.

And off they rushed.

I waited by the elevators for him.  As soon as the doors opened we raced to catch up to her. We were close enough that all the doors were still open, and we got to the doors to the operating area just in time for her to look over and see him. Such a relief just to see each other. The energy between the was palpable, even though he couldn’t touch her physically, she felt his love. He watched her being wheeled into the operating room, with the Nurse perched on the bed between her legs, and then we waited.

Oh what a long wait that felt like.

33 ½ hours before her scheduled birth time, this baby girl was born!

Less than 10 minutes later he was holding his bright star in his arms.

49 minutes later this unstoppable woman was meeting her daughter for the first time and it was instant love.

This birth was not what they had planned, it wasn’t like any birth they could have imagined.

A birth none of us will ever forget.


To be noted, this baby was never in any distress.

Our gratitude to the Nurse who held that cord at bay for thirty minutes, and modern belly birth knowledge, is bigger than words can express.


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