Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn


I have a request. Please put your head down. We have but a few weeks left before you'll likely be too crammed in there to be able to turn around. So do it soon. Please do it soon. I'm doing my best not to worry and to just talk with you about it, calmly, reasonably. Please put your head down. At the ultrasound a week and a half ago, you were happily sitting with your butt down. Yes, we have time. But please put your head down.

There are good reasons for me to ask this of you, Peach.

There are amazingly few doctors in all of Colorado--is it 2?--who will deliver babies who are breech. In most instances, babies who present breech--head up and butt down--are delivered by cesarean birth. It has become standard practice in recent decades. As I've looked into this more, I have learned that it is not necessarily because vaginal deliveries of breech babies are truly more dangerous or complicated but rather because American medical schools are no longer training doctors to do them. What are medical schools training doctors to do? Cesarean deliveries. Hmmm, I don't like what I'm learning and I don't like having yet another reason to be skeptical of, and angry with, "western medicine".

What's so bad about cesarean delivery? Lots of people actually schedule cesarean deliveries believing it to be much simpler, perhaps less scary. I think very differently. I have been looking forward to the experience of labor, Peach. And as I sort through these feelings, I have come to know that it is not simply my own desire, my own wishes. Peach, I believe that labor will be better for both of us on so many levels. You know what I mean--I've been talking to you about it a lot in the past week.

Ok, but what about cesarean birth? I am breathing my way into acceptance that this might be necessary. But I still cry when I think about it. I'll get there if I have to, I promise you, Peach. Whatever way you come into this world, I will greet you with love.

But I am not ready yet. There is much to be done. We have a lot of talking still to do over the next few weeks, Peach. And we have a new song, a bit of a lilty-bluesy-song with the same words for all four lines---"Put your head down, Peach...."...over and over again.

At 32 weeks, a week and a half ago, we went for an "extra" ultrasound. This extra ultrasound was scheduled just to have a peak at this fibroid that doctors have been monitoring. Yes, fibroids are very common and usually cause little to no problems once a pregnancy is well-established. Doctors have just been checking in on us to see if it grows substantially, which fibroids can do during a pregnancy. No substantial growth---that's good. Yet, during the ultrasound, you had your butt down, Peach. I'm not really sure if this is how you are hanging out most of the time. My guess is no since you seem to move around so much! Nonetheless, the doctor doing the ultrasound speculated that maybe you don't want to put your head down because there isn't enough room because of this fibroid. Mark actually suggested (afterward, not to the doctor) that maybe the fibroid would make you *more* likely to put your head down since it might act like an extra pillow. Ok, maybe not. Yet the presentation of the doctor was speculative, without the evidence characteristic of his profession. And arrogant. And frustrating. And anxiety-provoking. He suggested that if at 36 weeks, if your head is not yet down, Peach, that we schedule a cesarean birth for sometime during week 39. I tried to talk to the doctor about breech presentation and what other things someone can do to promote a baby turning. He did *not* mention some interventions that I know are available--I had to bring those up. Such as External Version. We can try it if we need to. Doc also didn't mention that acupuncture has been shown in research to help babies turn. Doc also didn't mention helpful exercises that have been shown to help. No, he mentioned none of it. He simply said, "Oh, there's still hope [for a vaginal birth]. Just think positive thoughts and come back in 4 weeks." Good thing Papa Mark was there to help me make sense of the very crummy feelings I had on the drive home. There's still hope? How the doctor related to us was very frustrating and very out of touch with the process--physical and emotional---- he is meant to guide women and families through toward a happy and healthy birthing of a human being.

So the next day we were at the acupuncturist's office, Peach. And you danced for the whole hour that we spent on her table. She is sweet. Dr. Pei. She is an OBGYN in China. She's been here in the U.S. for 20+ years practicing acupuncture and specializing in women's health. She talked to you, Peach, and said she felt confident that you would listen to us, to her, to the energy shifted by the needles. Dr. Pei spent more time relating to you, Peach, than any of the doctors we've seen in 8 months. This was heartening in that she is such a kind and attuned practitioner, and disheartening in that I've seen doctors and nurses regularly for months and they have rarely (ever?) touched my belly to try to get a sense of where you are in there and what you might be doing. The doctors are interested in those same questions, but their way of finding you is via machines--a doppler, an ultrasound. Dr. Pei likes you, Peach. She also thinks you are large, but that's a story for another day. Large is OK by me anyway.

Peach, let's listen to Dr. Pei. Cesarean deliveries have been linked with more respiratory problems in newborns. And more colic. There are other ways that it scares me, Peach. It is a major abdominal surgery that will make our first few months together more challenging in many ways. It scares me to think about what a sudden way it is to enter the world--to be simply plucked out of your environment without warning, without the long slow process of labor that would by its very nature allow you time for transition.

Peach, I would like us to labor together. Heck, maybe we'll even labor together if you decide *not* to put your head down. Maybe we'll contact one of those 2 doctors who will deliver breech babies. Mark and I will definitely have to empty our savings account to do that, but it may be worth it to choose a more slow and deliberate entry for you into this world. We'll keep talking about it, you and Mark and I.

Ok, head down.


  1. Head down, Peach!

    We did an external version. It sent Abilene plum's heart rate down and made Joanna feel very strange. And it was unsuccessful. Overall, very unpleasant. The sooner the better with the E-V, since the smaller the fetus, the easier to turn.

    We'll be praying. Love you.

  2. Dear Peach,
    Headstands are hard. I know this firsthand. But with some good regular practice, they become more and more comfortable, more and more natural. Peach, you will have plenty of time to rebel later on. I promise. I will even go on rebellious adventures with you, if your parents are okay with it. For now, please, know that we want you to do headstands because it is healthier and easier for you, healthier and easier for your mom, and healthier and easier for all women giving birth. The doctors love to think they can fix them that you can do it yourself, that you don't need their interventions that come between you and your mom.

    You will have so much time to sit, butt down, to stand, feet down. Too much time, really. Trust us on this one. That's right. Headstands. For as long as you can.

    much love to your parents, too :)


  3. Dear Melissa, Mark and Peaches,
    As always, I read the latest blog and began cheering you on immediately ~ that all will be well and comfortable and healthy....your efforts to connect with alternative and gentle methods of persuasion are proactive and caring. I'm glad you feel close to Dr. Pei and she is listening to you! I love the title, "Turn, turn, turn" and am hoping that is underway! So many of us are very excited to hear news of your delivery in April, and the start of your life outside your warm and snuggly womb! Melissa, the professional photos are beautiful, because YOU are beautiful! Thanks for including us on this intimate journey.