I can see both sides of the issue, but because I've seen so much regarding home birth recently I wanted to finally share the story of my daughter's birth.
You may know where this is headed...
I was given two different due dates during the course of my pregnancy. The first was from a nurse practitioner who guessed based on a few measurements. However, it was really early and the heartbeat barely detectable and it wasn't until I chose an OB/GYN that I received a more "realistic" due date - changed to mid-June 2012. There was disagreement as to how far along I was, so to this day it is questionable how early Sloane was born.
At any rate, my pregnancy was normal in the beginning. I threw up everyday for a few months - I'm not kidding! Poor Matt had to pull over anytime we went to do anything, because it was inevitable I'd be a heaving mess while riding in a vehicle. Of course I intended to eat lean meats and salad, but there was one infamous week I could only consume Golden Grahams and creamed corn which seemed completely normal at the time. I still get nauseous when I think of those horse-pill vitamins...
Eventually the nausea subsided, and the second trimester was pretty great. I felt great, I felt like I looked okay while pregnant and hadn't blown up yet (I would - but never to Jessica Simpson code red) and I was able to eat normally without feeling ill.
I did a lot of research. Neither of us are idiots, and I get that common sense is probably the most important thing a parent should have, but I still didn't want us to be blindsided by something we could learn. Everyone can learn from others and surely, there are people out there with more birth and baby experience. We went to "baby school" where Matt successfully out-swaddled me in a competition. I was better at diapers, he was better at swaddling - we would conquer parenthood.
Because I research, and worry, I felt better and better as each day passed and it got to the point I could relax and say, "okay, if she were born today she would probably be alright." I was not prepared for what happened at the end of my pregnancy.
Looking back, I feel I should have known something was up. I was new at pregnancy and I didn't notice things I should. I know towards the end, people would ask me "isn't it wonderful to feel those rolls as she flips?" And I would agree emphatically, not even realizing that I wasn't feeling any flips or big movements - just little kicks every now and then. Obviously, if I felt no movement at all, it would have thrown me into a panic. But I DID feel movement, it just wasn't the sort of movement that I now know is normal to experience in the third trimester.
On May 23, 2012 I left work early and traveled to my doctor's office in Slidell for a routine weekly checkup. First of all, I had no idea that this was something that was optional. When I tell you I researched daily, that is not an exaggeration. I could explain all of the things I learned about pregnancy, the physiology of pregnancy itself, maternal and fetal health, etc but what I did not research was mundane medical checkups. When learning that routine medical care was the number one important factor in a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby (common sense here) - it makes sense. Why would I be in a position to deny my baby anything my doctor believes to be necessary and something every pregnant woman I know does? The appointment was to check for dilation on a weekly basis. Ok...go for it. You're the doctor! It is something that takes just a second and isn't any more uncomfortable than anything else pregnant women undergo. Not dilated. Business as usual - I expected this and I was not due for a month, I believe. I began making mental notes as to what I needed to complete at work the following day. She is wrapping up, and this stoic, intelligent (but cold) doctor says something in a voice that caught my attention because it was not calm. I was daydreaming about work, so it took a minute to process the words that she had said. It was like there was a delay. They finally struck me. "Well, you're going to have a baby today." She says this with a tight, uncharacteristic (falsely cheerful) smile and I know she is worried. To this day, I wonder if she thought she'd be sued. "EXCUSE ME?" What the F was she talking about? And then I felt it... (feel free to stop reading right here)
The gush of my water breaking. Everywhere.
My research did NOT reveal that it was exactly like in the movies, it was dramatic and theatrical and I felt that I would shrivel from the absolutely insane amount of liquid leaving my body. The enormity of what is happening is slowly dawning on me when she says "I broke your water! This has NEVER happened! NURSE! NUUUUURSE! GET IN HERE. NOW! HELLOOOOO!" She is YELLING. It was an unbelievable amount of time that it took to drain. I stand up and that was also a bad idea. I freak out and start bawling. I'm terrified. Not for me - this baby! Will she be okay? Will an early birth affect her? Will she have to go to the NICU? Will I be able to take her home with me? Will her lungs be fully developed? How the hell could this happen? Sh*t! I need to call Matt!
This doctor is running around, nurses are running around with towels (futile, let me tell you) and someone gives me a phone to call Matt.
Luckily, the hospital was about a two minute drive. Matt picks me up and I am prepped for surgery. I am so, so worried for my baby. A nurse comes in and comforts me. She told me that she was proud of me, of my emotions in this because she said most women are excited to have the baby out as soon as possible solely because the third trimester is uncomfortable, no matter the risk to the baby. I agree - selfish. I was extremely uncomfortable on a daily basis, but I knew the best place for her to grow and thrive until she was ready was in the womb and words cannot describe my misery and worry when wondering if something would be wrong and if I could have prevented this from happening.
I was prepped for surgery and in the exam room and at some point my doctor came in and started yelling at everyone in there because no one had thought to hook up the fetal doppler and make sure Sloane was not in some sort of distress, which could have been very likely. I was in no position to monitor the staff, nor was it my place. The epidural fiasco passes and Sloane is born via c-section. That's when I hear the rest. She tells the other attending physician (yes, I got TWO for this surprise surgery) that the "entire length" of the "wimpy" cord is wrapped tightly around her neck. It was at least four times. Sloane's first Apgar was a little low, but nothing unusual for a csection and the next was great. She was very tiny but perfect and her lungs were just fine. A sort of relief I'll never again feel.
When I am able to process information and everything is sorted, my anger subsides. I am made aware that if I had gone into labor naturally, it was more than probable that the breech position Sloane was in would have caused compression on the cord leading to oxygen deprivation. What does this mean? The death of my baby at worst, brain damage at best. Furthermore, neither of them had seen a cord so small and tight. This is also the reason she was breech, and, unbeknownst to the doctor, would never "turn on her own". I didn't even have a csection scheduled. This is the reason I did not feel flips and rolls. She could not move, trapped by her own cord, and was stuck in the position she was in.
The still from the 4D ultrasound at the beginning of this blog clearly shows the cord wrapped. They do not use their 4D ultrasounds for diagnostic purposes, and not a word was spoken about the dangers of cord compression. The cord in this photo wasn't even brought to my attention until after all of this happened.
In the grand scheme of things, Sloane was alright. She was never given the opportunity to have contractions tighten her cord, so in a way - I am alright with her entry into the world. I have some people tell me it was a "blessing" this happened. I don't know what word to describe it, I just know that glad she was okay. I know there was no greater feeling when all of my fear and worry melted and I was just left with a beautiful, sweet, newborn girl whose mischievous entry into the world fits her just fine.