At my 40 week appointment, my midwives were concerned that Mae's position felt different and that her heart tones were registering much higher on my abdomen, so they sent me in for an ultrasound to confirm position and also to measure amniotic fluid levels, which I would have had to do at 41 weeks along with a non-stress test. Wouldn't you know it - after thinking she was head down for weeks, Mae was in a frank breech position.
This was definitely not the news I wanted to hear. At 40 weeks I would usually be scheduled for an immediate cesarean, and I feel very fortunate that Dr. Karen Crabtree works at the Ukiah hospital. She agreed to try an external version on me the next morning, so Carson, my friend and doula Katie, and I headed in at 7:30 am. I put on a hospital gown, got an IV to make me extra hydrated (ironically I wasn't allowed to drink anything beforehand), had a blood draw, and had another ultrasound to confirm her position. Although I loathed being in the hospital I immediately liked and trusted Dr. Crabtree, who has done extensive work in Africa and is experienced with versions and breech births. Unfortunately, after three excruciating tries lasting one or two minutes each - the third with a shot of terbutaline to relax my uterus - Mae was unwilling or unable to flip. I handled the attempts well and was able to breathe and moan into them ("Like a mini labor!" I thought to myself), but it was intensely painful. I might have yelled a not-nice name at our daughter after the third attempt.
Again, at that point I should have gotten a cesarean since I was full term and already in the hospital with an empty stomach and an IV and an available doctor (legally, my care had to be transferred from the birth center to the hospital). Luckily, the kind Dr. Crabtree agreed to give me four days to see if Mae would flip and if not, to at least wrap my head around the new circumstances. After 9+ months of working with the amazing midwives at Bloom and preparing for an unmedicated, out-of-hospital birth, I was suddenly staring down the barrel of the exact opposite of what I wanted. I needed some time to sit with that and adjust. I also wasn't keen on a Friday the 13th baby, and 01/17/17 seemed like a much better birthday.
Mae has always had a lot of room to move around so we were hopeful that she might - with some encouragement - get her head down where it needed to be. I took Pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy that is known to help babies get in the right position; I did daily inversions; I got a chiropractic adjustment; I had moxibustion done by a local acupuncturist; and I meditated and talked to Mae and prayed a lot.