I was going to incorporate this into my final post, but then I ended up writing the beginning of a whole different summary post to end this “pregnancy chapter” of Pregnant in Cape Town. For those who have wondered, I still intend to blog on PICT and remain active on Social Media in that name once Charly is here to keep the conversations going. Partly because I am proud of what I have created and partly because a large part of me is still hoping that I will one day be “Pregnant in Cape Town” again. So I will update my site & Social Media with the tagline “& everything after” and get around it that way.
So instead of this being the final post, I am going to try get this one up and then post the final one on Sunday. I decided to just go with it because the other one was not lending itself to the topic that I wanted to focus on which is the move from natural childbirth to c-section and I felt that for my regular readers, this topic shouldn’t just be tagged onto the bottom of a very diverse “wrap up” post.
As you know, I began this journey quite undecided about how baby was going to come into this world. In the very beginning I was leaning very much towards a c-section, then the mommy hormones hit & I became convinced I could do the natural childbirth thing with the help of medication. My journey to that was quite bumpy, changing hospitals and doctors and discovering that so few doctors performed natural deliveries anymore; as soon as I heard that I became adamant I wouldn’t choose an anti-natural doctor. And so I found my wonderful Doctor Cloete who is pro-natural childbirth & we saw eye to eye on circumstances that might change my delivery from natural to c-section.
A few weeks ago I posted about the fact that Charly had a growth spurt with her head; her little noggin is definitely not little and was measuring at 41 weeks 2 weeks ago, concerning all of us with interest in getting her out the “natural” way. This alone would not be a total no-go for natural birth, although her head has grown further and the scanning machine will no longer read the size (meaning it is now measuring 42w+). From what I understand, this doesn’t mean my baby is going to look weird, just that she is in the highest percentile for her growth group. I have to be honest, when Dr C said he needed to keep the picture of her head to share with colleagues that did freak me out somewhat. Anyway, the first roadblock to natural delivery is the fact that her head is larger than expected to the point that it is a very clear concern for the doctor.
Another thing that has come up a few times is that Charly’s favourite position is what I call “turtling” and what the medical profession calls occiput posterior – with her little spine against mine. Over the past 2 months she has moved between that position and transverse position – both of which are extremely painful and neither of which are particularly good for natural deliveries. The position with the size of her head have prevented her from dropping. Not that she doesn’t try; she does and with the Braxton Hicks trying to help her along, I have had a few scares where I have thought I was in labour. The BH gets crazy strong and painful and regular as my body tries to help her get ready to move downwards, but sadly it just isn’t going to happen.
I have been disappointed by how few resources online actually cover the pain of carrying a baby in the OP position in later third trimester. There is plenty out there on the pain & potential complications of trying to birth a baby in that position, but nothing about the terrible pain you feel when they push outwards on your tummy with their ever-stronger arms and legs and the terrible lower back pain you can experience as the back of their head rests against the back of your pelvis. It is terrifying when you Google and can’t find anything on something you are experiencing, even when the doctors say it is totally normal to feel that way and other mommies who have carried that way confirm it too. So her position is also an issue counting against natural delivery.
My personal turning point was the worsening of my joint issues. I wrote extensively in an early post about my dislocating knees. Other than the extreme discomfort & joint pain I experienced in the first few months, I used the exercises the physio taught me and I have had a surprisingly easy time of it until the last 2 weeks. What began as carpal tunnel in my hands around a month ago with pins and needles and aching joints escalated into a dislocated thumb, and then my right wrist started dislocating and by about a week ago every morning I wake up with all my finger joints and my wrists in extremely painful “out of socket” positions.
In the beginning it was uncomfortable, but not really painful and I could easily wiggle the joints until they re-engaged or popped back in; as it has progressed the pain has worsened, the joints are increasingly stiff and more difficult to put back into place and there is now inflammation swelling to go with the general heat & pregnancy swelling. My writing is now not only an emotional effort, but my hands only begin working a few hours after I wake up & even then they remain stiff & some days too painful to use at all. In the end, unprovoked dislocations are pretty bad; so actively trying to push a baby (with any size head) could far too easily cause dislocated hips which could endanger baby and me, and would lead to a c-section & further surgery.
**TMI (too much information) bodily issue coming up, story can go on without you reading this paragraph, you won’t miss anything – but other preggies might need to know**
And if none of that was enough (which believe me, in my case it all was), I have also developed quite serious external thrombosed hemorrhoids. I am not going to go into detail coz even I find it TMI, essentially hemorrhoids are fairly common in pregnancy and not generally an issue for many people. Thrombosed ones are more of an issue as they are blood clots, and are generally removed surgically. When pregnant this is not an option (especially so late in pregnancy) and the pressure of pushing, particularly for a long period of time (doctor estimated that should I be able to birth my baby’s big head naturally, it would require in excess of an hour of active pushing) could cause severe rupturing. Nuff said. Seriously. Forever. Horrifyingly painful symptom I hope very few people ever have to experience. Anyone of you who has read anything on the forums will see that women recovering from pregnancy and labour would rather experience drug free natural labour, tearing and episiotomies than these.
Add to those 4 developments the fact that I was always very pro-mommy-choice and not rabidly pro-natural birth and you have the answer as to why I have changed my birth plan. I wanted to try a natural birth; I planned for it and prepared for it and even chose a doctor based on it; but although I am feeling disappointed, I never ever intended or wanted to “try” to labour naturally against all odds. I never wanted it badly enough that I would labour for 2 days & then submit to a c-section. It was always going to be an “either” “or” for me & I found the best possible doctor who wanted to give me the birth I wanted & I trust him 100% when he says that any one of these might be something we could overcome and “push through”, but all four puts me and Charly at risk and no personal choice issues are worth that for me.
I have processed that all and put it aside now, there isn’t exactly a lot of time to dwell on it. Charly will be delivered at 8am on Monday morning. I am terrified of the surgery itself; not for Charly, I know she will be 100% perfect; but for myself. As mentioned before I have serious hospital issues & I was convinced having my wisdom teeth removed under anesthetic would kill me, so I am still afraid of that dreaded term ‘complications’. Again though, I do trust Doctor C. If I move past the surgery fear, I then move on to the excruciating recovery pain fear. I am the biggest baby ever & I still cry for my mommy when I fall or get sick, I suspect those nurses are going to be thrilled the day I leave. I also can’t sleep without Brett, when he has gone away on courses or on fishing weekends I simply don’t sleep til he gets home; so 3 nights in a hospital without him makes me struggle to find breath.
So, yes, I am excited to be a mom & I can’t believe I will have a baby girl in 3 days 10 hours (did you see my gorgeous countdown clock in the right column on my blog! I installed it myself, super impressing my techie husband). And yes, there are a whole lot of nerves & fear about being a new mom and the lack of sleep & breastfeeding pains and all the rest of that. But for now, I feel a little “deer in the headlights” with the more immediate upcoming importance of getting my baby “from in there to out here”, but there is nothing I can do about any of it now. Charly needs to safely come into this world and she has a date and time that she will be doing that now & so all I can do is go with it.