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Seth Michael {A Birth Story}

September 29, 2021

Introducing Seth Michael Kellogg
Born: August 26, 2021 at 11:15pm
8lb 13oz and 19 3/4 inches long

An Unfortunate Diagnosis

I knew something was different this time around.  My ribs were more crowded than they had been in any previous pregnancies.  My hips didn’t hurt the way they had in my previous pregnancies.  I couldn’t lay down comfortably.  It was weird.

I didn’t know what to think about the weirdness I was experiencing.

At 37 weeks my midwives checked and Seth was definitely head down.  Not long after that, he planted his “butt” (so I thought) into my ribs and wouldn’t move.  I told Nate a few times that I didn’t understand exactly how he was positioned.  His butt was so high but I was feeling his “hands” (so I thought) in my cervix.  It didn’t seem as though his body could be bent the way it had to be if I was feeling what I thought I was feeling.

I went on with life, not thinking about the possibility that something might be wrong.

I had my 39 week checkup on Tuesday evening and I went into it thinking it would just be another simple, boring appointment.  We discussed some of the specifics about labor and delivery, what to expect if I went overdue, and checked my blood pressure.  Everything was as it should have been.

But then it all changed.  I laid down on the exam table as my midwife checked on Seth.  His heartbeat was great…  But she wasn’t finding it where she expected it to be if he was engaged.  She felt his body angle…  Then she felt it again…  Then she said the words I didn’t want to hear at all…  “I think your baby is breech.”

To verify, she did an internal check and, sure enough, felt his feet where his head was supposed to be.

The simple 39 week checkup quickly turned into a troubleshooting appointment.  I was going to have to see an OB, decide what we would do to deliver Seth safely, and probably not have the homebirth I was hoping for.

Making All the Decisions

Thankfully, my midwife said that my body didn’t seem as though it was going to go into labor that evening so she sent me home to try the Spinning Babies technique and set me up with a confirmation ultrasound the next morning.  I spent quite a bit of time hanging out upside down that evening but little man didn’t want to budge.

Wednesday morning, I headed to the ultrasound to see what Seth was up to.  Sure enough, the moment the ultrasound wand was placed on the lower portion of the belly I saw two little feet.  As it panned up, it was clear the little man was in the opposite position he should have been.

My midwife got on the phone to get me in with an OB later that day to decide the best course of action.

Three options were available to me…

  1. I could attempt to deliver a breech baby.  There are a ton of complications that could occur and the OB I saw wouldn’t do it so I’d have to find another OB if that was the route I wanted to go.  After hearing all the issues that could occur and finding out that one in ten babies delivered breech are injured, Nate and I decided this option was off the table.
  2. We could attempt an external cephalic version (aka: try to flip the baby using pressure from the outside).  There can be complications with this proceedure but it’s so much safer than attempting to deliver breech.  We would have gone with this option but the OB felt as though I wasn’t a good candidate for this procedure to work.
    • I had an anterior placenta
    • I was over 39 weeks pregnant and have large babies
    • I have a short torso
    • My ultrasound had shown that I had low amnionic fluid
    • He was in a frank breech position, which is harder to turn
  3. We could schedule a csection and get him out before I went into labor naturally.

Since the only thing in my favor for having an ECV was that I’ve had babies before and my uterus has been stretched out, we decided that the safest option for Seth and me was to schedule a csection for the following morning.  I didn’t want to have a surgical birth, but it seemed as though it was the best choice.  I wasn’t as concerned about the surgery itself, since the doctors do csections often, but I was very concerned about the recovery process.  I have three other boys to care for and healing from a major surgery complicated our plans for the help I would have during my recovery.

I spent that afternoon and evening processing the change in plans and praying that everything would go smoothly and recovery would be as easy as possible.

A Miracle Happens

The next morning, we got up bright and early to head into the hospital.  The csection was scheduled for 7:30am and I was excited to be holding my precious boy that morning.  As we were driving to the hospital, I began really processing some of the loss that was going to come with not delivering the baby the way I had my others.  My absolute favorite feeling in the world is the moment after I deliver the baby and he is placed on my chest to cuddle.  I realized I was not going to have that experience this time around and spent the drive to the hospital in tears.

We checked into our room and began the process of preparing for surgery.  I changed into the hospital gown, they got me hooked up to all the monitoring machines, and they attempted to get me hooked up to an IV.  The first try involved them wiggling the IV needle around, thinking they got it in, injecting some fluid, causing my arm to burn and puff up where the fluid had been injected, and quickly removing the needle.  (This is normal for my body.  It hates IVs)  They began trying to insert the IV a second time when the doctor came in to do a quick ultrasound to verify the position of Seth.  The IV was not going in correctly again and they had just pulled it out to try a third time when the doctor let out a little squeek of excitement!

She had put the wand toward the bottom of my belly and… there was a head!!!!!!  All six of us in the room were so excited by what we were seeing.

She scanned up and let out a little “Oh my!” when she was about halfway up Seth’s body which led me to jokingly ask “Are you going to tell us that it’s also a girl?” as Nate jokingly asked “Is it twins?”  After I quickly told Nate that he needed to get out of my hospital room for asking such an inappropriate question, the doctor laughingly told us that neither of those were the case and she was just shocked that he had flipped.

I had felt nothing during the night but, after being breech for at least two weeks, he flipped the night he needed to!

Another Change of Plans

I got on the phone with my midwife to let her know what had happened and she and the OB agreed that there were three options at this point.  Firstly, I could go home and do nothing and wait for labor to begin on its own.  Neither the midwife or OB recommended this because the chances that Seth would flip again were super high and then we would just be back at square one.  Secondly, I could stay at the hospital and start the induction process and have a hospital delivery with the OB.  Thirdly, I could go home and attempt to induce naturally with my midwife and hopefully have the home birth we had been planning on.

Since I had used castor oil and other herbal induction methods with Daniel, we knew my body responded well to them and they didn’t wreck my gut.  Both the OB and midwife were totally in favor of attempting to induce at home and, if my body didn’t respond, heading back to the hospital and doing an induction with pitocin.  They both told me multiple times that I was absolutely NOT allowed to lay down or even lay back too much because baby could easily flip back to breech.

So…  we pivoted again and checked out of the hospital to attempt having Seth at home.

I hadn’t eaten in about 12 hours so my midwife recommended we go get a protein filled breakfast and then head to her office to get the party started.

A Natural Induction

At 9:15am we were ready to begin inducing.  First, a foley catheter was inserted to dialate me to 3cm.  Before inserting, my midwife (Danelle) let me know that it seemed as though I might already be 3cm and, sure enough, as soon as the foley catheter was inserted, it fell out.  Danelle then did a vigorous membrane sweep at that point and sent me home with some castor oil and herbal tinctures to hopefully get things going.

I began feeling some minor contractions on the drive home and quickly downed the castor oil (in a milkshake) and herbal tinctures because I was ready to meet my baby boy.

Contractions gradually picked up throughout the day.  I bounced on a yoga ball, went for two walks, and called the Danelle and her assistant midwife (Susie) to head over to our house at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

Contractions kept up throughout the day but remained at about the same consistency in pain and timing.  Thankfully, Nate’s mom had come over to stay with the boys when we thought I was going to have a c-section so she was able to hang out with the boys, take them to parks, and keep them out of my way when I was laboring.

I am a quiet laborer – to the point where the midwives had to ask me often what I was experiencing – so it was fine that the boys were in and out of the house.  I promise I didn’t traumatize them.

Yet Another Decision

At about six, Danelle suggested we consider breaking my water.  She said we could keep going the way we were, but breaking my water would really get things going and Seth had decended enough that she didn’t forsee any complications for choosing that route.  I was SO over making decisions and went back and forth with what to do.  I could tell Nate and our birthing team both thought breaking my water was the right next step but they were leaving it up to me to decide what to do.

My biggest hesitation for having my water broken (outside of not wanting to make ANOTHER big decision) was that, if we did it, we’d cross the point of no return.  He’d have to be born within 24 hours after my water was broken and I was imagining all the scenarios where labor didn’t pick up and I had to be checked back into the hospital.

I finally decided I would have Danelle break my water after the boys went to bed.  I knew it would be easier if I knew they were tucked up in their beds and all I would have to do was focus on pushing this baby out.

At nine o’clock, the boys were in bed.  After appologizing for being so indecisive (my enneagram nine comes out STRONG when I’m in labor), we broke my water at 9:15.

I am such an analytical person and was so over the unknown so I asked Danelle, “With the way things have gone so far, how long would you expect labor to last now?  I PROMISE I won’t hold you to it.  I just really like tangible numbers.”  She told me that she typically will not answer that question but knew I would benefit from getting an answer.  She said she would guess Seth would be here in around two hours.

About fifteen minutes after my water was broken, labor REALLY started to pick up.  I had to sit and focus during contractions.  They got stronger and stronger until they got to the point where I was finally vocalizing through them, tapping myself on the forehead to distract myself (it’s my weird labor trick), and not letting Nate say anything or touch me.  (He feels SO helpless toward the end of labor because I just want him sitting silently next to me as moral support and he wants to be DOING something!)

Finally, I began feeling the urge to push.  Nate let the midwives know and they quickly came in and prepared for delivery.

Both my births at the hospital ended with me being told Puuuussssh… Puuuusssshhh… like you see on the movies.  I’m not exactly sure what happened with my birth with Daniel because it all happened so fast.  This time around, I really wanted to listen to my body and experience my body guiding the birth instead of the medical professionals telling me what to do.

It was amazing and SO cool to be really present with my body and allow my body to guide the baby out instead of using my own strength to push him out.  I have zero idea how to describe it outside of that.  After three contractions, a lot of saying “ow, ow, ow” during the ring of fire, Seth joined us in the outside world.

At 11:15, my last little boy was born – exactly two hours after my water was broke.  I guess my midwife had known what she was talking about.

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