You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather.
This is a birth story of drastically changed plans, resilience, and love. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan our births, our baby has other plans! Keep reading to learn how Arika had a positive and empowering unplanned cesarean birth. Here's her story, in her own words:
"From the moment I saw those two pink lines, I couldn't help but be so excited about my life to come.
If there is one thing in life that I knew I wanted, it was to be a mom.
My pregnancy was so easy going, I never got sick, and I never had any out-of-this-world pains, it was everything I hoped for and more. My daughter, Huxley, was head down at our anatomy scan and it was such a huge relief to know she was already in a good position for birth. From then on I just continued on knowing I was going to have a laid-back unmedicated hospital birth.
January 7th, 2023 was the 4D ultrasound day! We loaded up the car and drove from Cheyenne to Fort Collins. I was so excited to see my baby girl. Well, Huxley decided somewhere between 20 weeks and 30 weeks she decided she wanted to flip and be Frank Breech. This is when I realized I might not get the birth I have always dreamt about.
I did everything from spinning babies courses, random spinning babies youtube videos, chiropractic care, seeing a hippy bodywork specialist who is known to flip breech babies, to holding a candle near my pinky toe while laying with my head down and butt up.
January 24th, 2023. Gosh, how badly did I want to walk into this ultrasound and see that my efforts paid off. They did not... that appointment was full of tears and hard conversations about what is next. I was NOT ready to give up on my dream birth. So we scheduled an external cephalic version (ECV) for February 18th, 2023.
Of course, between then and February I continued to do all my crazy things to get Huxley to turn."
"The big day had come for us to try the ECV. All I could think about is how if this doesn't work what is next? As we waited on the doctor I stripped down to nothing but my hospital gown and socks. Waiting for Dr. Niehues to come in with the bedside ultrasound machine was the longest wait. He checked again, and Huxley hadn't moved an inch from where she was at 30 weeks. I was given the option to do this ECV with an epidural and I denied it. Dr. Niehues put his entire body weight and some into my stomach to try and turn Huxley. After an hour of trying with few breaks and no success, we decided that was all we could do that day.
A few days later I had my prenatal appointment and I knew that life-changing choices are going to have to be made this day. I once again was not going to give up on having the birth I wanted and asked Dr. Niehues if we could try one last ECV. So we scheduled it for March 2nd. The plan was to attempt one more time, and if it was unsuccessful, I would consent to a cesarean birth.
On March 2nd, I drove to the hospital to get checked in. I was either going to have a successful ECV, be induced, and give birth vaginally. OR I was going to end my evening in the operating room giving birth via cesarean section. I couldn't help but sit there in disbelief that I was going to have a baby one way or another at the end of this.
I opted for an epidural this time in hopes it would relax me more, and Dr. Niehues could crank on me even harder. They began to talk about if a C-section does happen I am only allowed one support person in the OR *even though* I had previously cleared (many, many times) having Danielle (my doula and birth photographer) and Chuck in the OR with me. Thankfully, I got it sorted with the OB and the anesthesiologist who couldn't care less if my doula joined me."
"The anesthesiologist came in to give me the rundown on the epidural and I sign the consent forms. Keep in mind, I had never planned to use an epidural. I have always had a VERY STRONG gut feeling that I should not get one during childbirth, my intuition was telling me I shouldn't. Alas, I got situated and leaned up against Chuck trying just to breathe knowing what is going on in my back. After it's placed, I tied to get comfortable in the bed.
Well, my blood pressure TANKED. All I remember was a sudden as intense fear that I was about to die. I couldn't stay alert, my head was killing me, I was so scared. If I closed my eyes I thought I would never open them again. Both Danielle and Chuck worried alongside me, nurses asking questions, Dr. Niehues and the anesthesiologist trying to also ask questions. It was all a frantic blur, I remember the anesthesiologist putting maybe 2 syringes of meds to bring my blood pressure up (later I found out it was closer to 8 times). I kept asking to just turn it off but they said they couldn't reverse it just yet.
I finally got somewhat of normal blood pressure, and had some time to recover from that very scary situation, and was ready to try this ECV. I WAS going to have the birth I wanted and it didn't matter what I had to do to do it. We tried for 30 minutes and Huxley just WOULDN'T move. At this point, I knew I had done everything possible to turn her and it just wasn't going to happen. Danielle and Chuck both reassured me that it will all be okay as I am tearing up knowing the OR was getting prepared for me. Myself, Chuck and Dr. Niehues came to the decision to go ahead with having a C-section. Neither myself or my doctors felt confident was an attempt at a vaginal breech birth.
They bring Chuck and Danielle their white scrubs and their goofy hats. Through all of this, Chuck is still doing everything he can to make me laugh in his new outfit. I get rolled into the OR alone. After 5 minutes, they bring Chuck and Danielle in. I'm trying not to tear up as I am laying on the operating table holding onto Chuck's hand praying everything will go okay."
"They begin cutting me open. That is such a weird feeling. They get ready to pull Huxley out and they lift the drape (I requested this).
At 6:38 pm on March 2nd, 2023, I got to watch her be brought into this crazy world. She had her cord wrapped around her neck twice (we got our answer on why she wouldn't turn). It took a second for her to cry but as soon as she did, I cried too. I was a mom. Every. Single. Thing. I went through it in order to get her here was worth it.
They got her cleaned up. They laid Huxley on my chest while I was still wide open on the table. We got our golden hour and man, it was amazing. At one point I began to feel like crap again so I told the anesthesiologist. Apparently, my epidural finally decided it wanted to wear off during surgery. I later found out that also had a slight hemorrhage. They finished getting me stitched up we hung out in the recovery room for what felt like forever. I latched Huxley for the first time, we got all of her measurements and Chuck got to change the first diaper."
"We put Huxley in her bassinet and they finally wheeled us to our postpartum room. We made a quick stop to ring the baby bell that everyone can hear announcing a baby had just been born. During our 48 hour postpartum stay, I had my pads weighed a few times to monitor blood loss after losing more than I should have in delivery. I was up walking around 3 hours post-op, and after 24 hours I felt ready to go home.
I honestly couldn't imagine going through what I did without Chuck and Danielle right there with me. Despite NOTHING going to plan, I still feel very positively about my birth experience!