Denial and Avoidance
Once I had had it confirmed, by private scan, that I wasn’t infact crazy and that I was correct in feeling that my baby was indeed breech, I called the hospital to inform them. I was booked in within days so that they could “check if baby was breech” – as if I’d be making it up! I had the scan and of course, baby was breech.
The following week, on the Thursday I was booked in for an External cephalic version (ECV) . An ECV is where they try to manually turn the baby with hands on your stomach. This was a very traumatic procedure for both myself and the baby. I was warned of the risks, but decided that it was less risky than the cesarean section I so desperately wanted to avoid. After 2 failed attempts I was told that baby wouldn’t turn and I would have to have a C-section the following Thursday. We then spent over an hour in a side room as both mine and baby’s heart rates wouldn’t settle. I’m not sure if this was due to the stress we had been under during the procedure, or the fact that I’d just been told I would be having major surgery when even a needle scares me. Probably a combination of the two.
A C-section had not been on the cards, it had not featured in my birth plans, I was not prepared… but I had been told that it was happening and in only 7 days’ time. I quickly got on to google to find out could this terrible fate, as I perceived it, possibly be avoided.
Over the next few days I spent a fortune on Chiropractic Sessions, Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Homeopathy. I spent most of my waking hours upside down; balancing myself and my bump precariously on the edges of sofas, chairs, stairs and even the ironing board. I was absolutely desperate for this baby to turn.
Looking back now, I know that this was all in vain. He was over 9lbs when he was born, and was obviously well wedged in there!
At some stage towards the end of that week my husband drove me to a shopping center just outside of town so that I could buy some trousers that would be more comfortable if I did end up having a cesarean and the accompanying scar. We stopped for petrol just before we began our trip and as we turned out of the petrol station I became paralysed, crying without being able to breathe. It was the oddest and most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. I didn’t know why it was happening and I was unable to alert my husband even though he was only about a foot away from me in the drivers set.
However, the reason became apparent, and my husband became aware of it as our journey took us past the hospital. By this stage I was shaking and gasping loudly, crying hysterically. I felt like I was going to die. It was terrifying for us both. It took me until several months later to understand that what I was experiencing that day was a panic attack. This was the first, and thankfully only, panic attack I have ever suffered. It is not something I would ever like to have to go through again.
I had spent most of the week avoiding the fact that I was going to have to have a cesarean. Suddenly the realisation had hit me like a bus. I was running out of time. My Thursday deadline was looming. There was only one thing I could do… telephone the hospital and cancel my appointment!
I was met on the other end of the phone with an abrupt, “How else do you think you are going to get it out?”. At that point I didn’t even consider that. I was so focused on getting this baby turned and having it naturally. I reluctantly agreed to reschedule for the following Tuesday, which bought me another 5 days to try to either get the baby turned, or to get my head round the fact that I would be having a cesarean.
After that phone call though, the doubt began to creep in. How would I get it out if I didn’t manage to get baby turned? I decided to continue to try but also to prepare for in case it did have to happen.
I did continue to try everything to help baby to turn, right up until I had to leave for the hospital but something very strange had happened to me following the panic attack. At the time I thought that what had happened was that I had released all of my anxieties and reached a sort of inner peace about the whole thing. I was scheduled for the surgery just a couple of days later and I calmly went around getting organised, packing bags and preparing for my stay in hospital.
On the day of the surgery we drove to the hospital, there wasn’t even one tear. There were a number of complicated or emergency cesareans before me, so we had to wait from first thing in the morning until midafternoon. Whenever I would feel myself beginning to wobble I would just sniff my little bag of lavender we had been given at the Daisy birthing classes, clinging on to the last remaining shred of my original birth plan.
I was taken in to theatre and everything was calm. I even kept my cool and didn’t react when a member of the theatre team choked on a boiled sweet and was given the Heimlich maneuver by the surgeon (this honestly happened!) My husband was then brought in and the surgery began.
I had been told to expect to be able to feel something, although it wouldn’t be painful. I didn’t react at all throughout the procedure, except with deep breathing and a silent tear rolling down my cheek. However it wasn’t until several months later that I could even begin to recall this memory.
You see I wasn’t calm, but I didn’t know that at the time.
What was really going on at this time is explained in part 3…