Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mary Claire's Birth Story, our Breech Birth After 4 Cesareans

I'm not really sure how an entire month has passed since our newest blessing was born. I hope that anyone reading this will see the many incredible ways the Lord protected her and I; and orchestrated every aspect of her delivery.

{My last side view before picture.}

This is a bit long but I want to be able to look back when I'm 90 and remember it all. The short version is - I had a breech baby in the garage. The longer version follows - you might want to grab a cup of coffee {or maybe a pot}, a comfortable chair and clear your agenda for the next hour or two. ;-)

{Mommy and Mary Claire inside the house, nice and warm.}

As I've mentioned before, despite being the mother of six, I've only had one natural birth and experienced true labor twice before. I had a 22 hour labor with Madisyn {my first} that ended in a cesarean section that I now believe could have been prevented. I had no labor with Ty {baby #2}. With Griffin and Ben {#3 and 4}, I had a few contractions and was whisked to the operating room for a cesarean "before I ruptured". I was induced with Mallory {our stillborn} but had very few contractions before she was delivered. My labor with Henry was 3.5 hours from water breaking to holding a perfect little man. He was born so fast that he beat the midwives here!

{Mary Claire just a few minutes old.}

Now that I have experienced two natural births I have learned a few things about my body. Apparently, I have prodromal labor {labor that doesn't cause dilation and/or lead to delivery} that can last for hours beginning several weeks before actual delivery. I now believe that my "labor" with Griffin and Ben was probably prodromal labor and they might have remained in utero for as much as a few more weeks if left alone to come at their God-given natural time.

{Daddy weighing Mary Claire with Lynda and Penny watching.}

My labor with Mary Claire was no different. The prodromal labor began around 35 weeks. We were concerned for awhile that she might even come earlier than what is considered safe. A week before she was born the prodromal labor began again. Because I had such a fast delivery with Henry, we called my midwife, Lynda. When she and Dee arrived I was somewhat dilated but Mary Claire was still very high. After a few hours the contractions stopped and they went back home. After Henry's birth our policy is to not take any labor for granted as time is at a premium.

{Lynda giving Mary Claire a very thorough exam.}

Throughout my pregnancy I suffered from extremely painful pelvic issues. Relaxin is a hormone that causes a pregnant woman's joints and muscles to relax so that a baby can pass out of her body more easily. In my case, the Relaxin worked so well that I had trouble walking. I was visiting a chiropractor {almost 2 hours away} every other day by the time she was born. The chiropractor didn't "fix" me but I was able to get out of bed, which sadly, was an improvement. At this point, Lynda encouraged us to have an ultrasound to check the integrity of my cesarean scar to make sure that it wasn't the root of the pelvic issue and prodromal labor.

{Mary Claire after a quick bath on birth night.}

We made an appointment with the ultrasound clinic on December 6 {two days before birth}. We took all the kids with us this time. The younger boys were really curious as to why we wouldn't just bring the baby home. In their minds, if we were going to take her out to get pictures, couldn't we just leave her out and take her home? LOL Once the technician got started, they quickly realized that Mary Claire wasn't coming out for her photo shoot. ;-) The ultrasound showed a perfect little girl estimated to weigh about 7 lbs. She was head down but had her arm up over her head. In a previous prenatal exam what we believed was an elbow was felt below her head and during an internal exam an arm and fingers were felt. She moved them when poked. I was concerned that she seemed to like her arm(s) over her head and worried some how that would affect delivery.

{Footprinting for the pretty birth certificate.}

During the two following days, I barely left the couch. I was just generally achy all over and my pelvic pain was at an all time high. Walking was extremely painful so I moved as little as possible. My due date was not until December 23 but I prayed frequently that the Lord would allow an earlier delivery as that is the only "cure" for the Relaxin caused pelvic problems I was having. When Kent came home on Tuesday he walked into a mini emergency. Madisyn had been helping to prepare supper and burnt her arm and side trying to drain boiling water. {Despite our constant pleas for her to not ever move pots and pans from the stove.} I was trying to help her soothe her injury, the boys were overly worked up and there was a terrible mess of steaming green beans and very hot puddles of water all over the kitchen floor. Unfortunately for him, his welcome home on Wednesday wasn't any calmer.

{Mary Claire and Mommy both feeling clean.}

As he walked in the door on Wednesday {December 8}, I attempted to get off the couch. Anyone who has ever been pregnant understands how difficult that can be. As I sat up, I felt a pop. Kent was still setting his computer and keys down when I said, "My water just broke". I felt terrible, because Kent looked like he had had a very very long day at work. He just said, "Are you serious?". I think my quick shuffle to the bathroom confirmed that I was indeed serious. I immediately called Lynda. At this point I hadn't had a single contraction, just the general aches I had felt all day.

{Griffin and Mary Claire the night of her birth.}

About 10 minutes {6:30} after my water broke, I had my first contraction. My contractions continued to occur about every 5 minutes and lasted approximately one minute. I had a birth pool set up in our bedroom and Kent filled it with the first batch of hot water. Because Mary Claire had been high the previous week, we decided it would be best to stay out of the pool until the midwife arrived. I didn't want anything to stall my labor. At some point, my sons decided to "help" and turned the water to the birth pool back on. Unfortunately, the hot water tank was already drained so it filled with cold water. "Fortunately", Kent discovered their "help" just before the pool overflowed and turned the water off.

{Ty and Mary Claire.}

By 8:45 I felt a little "pushy" but I didn't feel the same pressure I felt with Henry. My contractions were much closer and were coming every 2 -3 minutes. They were also lasting longer and I had several where the end of one was the start of the next. Lynda had not arrived {she was two hours away and had to finish gathering supplies and an assistant} and I told Kent that I really felt like I should get in the pool to keep from pushing. Again, the pressure wasn't the same as with Henry. I was concerned that her arm was in the way and throwing things off and I didn't want to deliver before Lynda arrived {like we did with Henry}. The pool had enabled me to relax through contractions in the past and I was hoping it might slow things down enough to give Lynda plenty of time to arrive. Remember the "help" from my boys? Kent began removing water so that we could add hot water. The water was only slightly warm when I crawled in around 9:00 p.m.

{A very proud big sister, Madisyn, who was extremely helpful during the birth.}

The "pushy" sensation was eased a little by the water and I was able to relax somewhat. I was really surprised at how much calmer I was when compared to Henry's delivery. I suppose I knew what to expect this time. I wasn't as bothered by light and sound. In fact, we opted to let the kids stay at home; so we had a full house. Lynda and her assistant, Penny, arrived around 9:15. Mary Claire's heartrate was 140. Lynda conducted an internal exam and felt what she believed to be an arm; which was consistent with the ultrasound. However, behind the arm was very soft and not the top of Mary Claire's head; which was not consistent with the ultrasound. Lynda consulted with another midwife via phone and together they felt we should transport to the hospital. At this point, it was believed that Mary Claire was presenting a nuchal arm but her head was coming face first. Because we didn't know if she was anterior or posterior we needed to head to the hospital for her safety.

{Daddy and Mary Claire.}

Kent called his mom and asked her to come to the house to be with the kids. She was about 15 minutes away and left immediately. Lynda, Penny and Kent began gathering supplies. Kent prepared a bag for me and found dry clothes for me to put on. I didn't want to get out of the pool until we were ready to leave. I knew that the contractions would be much harder when no longer in the water and the urge to push would be much stronger. The last thing I wanted to do was deliver on the way to the hospital in my van! I only "flipped out" for a few moments. I knew that once I walked in the hospital I would be sent straight to the operating room. No matter what position Mary Claire was in upon arrival, a momma with a mispositioned baby with a history of 4 previous cesarean sections would have a repeat section.

{Mommy, Mary Claire, Lynda and Penny.}

While we waited for Nana to arrive, we decided to allow Kent's dad to take us to the hospital instead. This would allow Kent to focus his attention on me. My father-in-law's truck had emergency flashers/strobe lights and police radio. With his ability to contact the local police in the areas we would be driving through he could save us time during our drive. He's also known for being a bit of a speed demon. He actually arrived before my mother-in-law despite leaving after her. I had a slight break in contractions so I quickly got out of the pool and changed shirts. I wrapped a heavy robe around me and a towel around my waist.

{Ben and Mary Claire the next morning.}

As we were heading out the door, I felt something. In fact, that's what I called out. "Something just came out!" The pressure did not feel like my delivery with Henry. The "something" that came out did not feel like a head, though I wasn't entirely sure what might feel that size. Lynda raced around and pulled the towel back just as the second FOOT popped out. We were shocked! Forty-eight hours earlier Mary Claire had been head down. Ben (baby #4) kept turning from head down to breech but I knew each time he did. I felt nothing like that with Mary Claire. This was a complete and total shocking suprise to everyone!

{Mary Claire the morning after birth.}

Her feet appeared while I was standing in the doorway of the garage, with the storm door propped open and me leaning against the wall. The only thing we could do was deliver her there. When Lynda examined me I asked if everything was OK. I was expecting her arm to come first and was concerned what complications that could cause. Lynda replied "Everything is fine, she's just kicking." I remember thinking that was a strange statement?. It wasn't until I looked down and saw her little feet, that I realized she was breech! Lynda told me to allow Mary Claire's body to deliver naturally and not to force it. It seemed like forever and a split second all at the same time, while we waited for the next contraction. Penny encouraged me to squat during the next contraction and Mary Claire was delivered so that only her head remained. Once we were waiting for her head to be delivered Lynda encouraged me to push. Once she was completely delivered she was dried with a towel and handed to me for skin to skin contact. It was around 30 degrees in the garage at the time of her delivery. Once the placenta delivered, Mary Claire was sent in the house. I laid down in the door way so my bleeding could be accessed. My blood loss seemed a little heavy and because of the heightened drama with the delivery I was given a shot of pitocin. Upon further examination it was determined the the blood loss was completely normal and the pitocin was probably un-neccessary but not detremental either.

{Two days old.}

Mary Claire had APGAR scores of 9 and 9. She only required a little vigorous rubbing after birth. Considering she went from an environment of around 98 degrees to 30 degrees, I would be a little stunned as well. I'm sure it took her breath away at first. After a few minutes I was returned to the house and Mary Claire nursed well. I had no tearing or complications from delivery. Her official time of birth was 9:53 pm. Another 3.5 hour labor/delivery. Her delivery was very different from Henry's. She weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and was 19 3/4 inches long. I don't know if the differences in delivery were due to her being breech, weighing almost 2 lbs less, squatting during delivery vs being in a semi-reclined position, etc. I never reached the typical "I can't do this" part of transition. Everything happened so fast after Lynda arrived that I honestly didn't have time to feel that way. When examining her placenta we discovered two perfect knots tied in her cord. The entire cord was very curly. It reminded me of the cord on an old rotary telephone. Apparently, she twisted and turned a lot during my pregnancy without my knowledge.

{Ready for our first family photo - 3 days.}

Once I showered and grandparents and sister/brothers had a turn holding her, the midwives headed back home. Kent and I sat and marvelled at how obvious God's hand was in every aspect of her delivery. God is always working and involved in our lives but there are times when his presence is so obvious that even a blind man can see it. Not only did I deliver a baby after four previous cesarean sections, but the Lord timed her delivery so perfectly that I didn't have another surgery. If the boys hadn't filled the pool with cold water, if we had not waited for my father-in-law to arrive, if I hadn't gotten in the pool when I did, she could have been born before the midwives arrived and we would have been in complete shock over seeing feet. Or she could have been born in the truck on the side of the road. We did everything we could to get "help" but the Lord allowed her to be born at home - safely in the garage {where cleanup is easy ;-) }. He protected her. He wasn't surprised by the knots in her cord or her feet first appearance. He arranged for all the right people to be here at just the right time!

{Four days old.}

I loved Henry's delivery because it was just Kent and I. I'm a pretty private person. I would have never purposely planned to have a baby outside, in December with my mother-in-law, daughter and a midwife assistant I had met 30 minutes earlier in attendance. My father-in-law and two of my sons weren't 10 feet away - not exactly private. ;-) Yet, the Lord saw fit to orchestrate it that way and I wouldn't change a thing. I don't believe our births have been lucky. I wasn't lucky to have a home VBA4C or a home breech birth. I was blessed beyond measure. I hope one day Mary Claire will look back and the verse in Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" will mean even more to her. Before she was born the Lord saw fit to protect her. May we always be aware of the ways the Lord reveals himself to us. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

{Our first family picture as a family of 8.}


Cord picture follows. I've had several requests to see the cord with two knots and curls. Scroll down to see.


  1. Stacy, that is the BEST birthing story I've ever read!!!! And done sooo beautifully!! Thank you so much for sharing this! I am amazed at how everything turned out. you're right, our God is truly wonderful! Wow! Can I share this with, like, all my friends? LOL!

  2. Thanks. Feel free to share, I just ask that it not be reprinted or reposted without prior permission. I just want to know where it ends up. :-)

  3. Wonderful birth story, and I love that you acknowledge the Lord's hand here. Congratulations. I have had 7 births too, and miscarriages, but I don't have a breech birth story! (my last was OP and head asynclitic{spelling}), but nothing like this!

    Congratulations! Beautiful baby!

  4. Thanks for sharing your birth story! I really enjoyed reading it and am so thankful to hear of God's protection and provision for both you and Mary Claire! Can I share the link to this post with a few friends?

  5. Quite the amazing birth story! It's very rare now a days that you hear of breech births, but I'm so glad for you! Congrats on the new little one.

  6. What an incredible birth story and beautiful testimony! Thanks for sharing publicly. I'm a childbirth educator (friend of Julie Park) and bookmarked your story to share with clients who are looking for VBAC or homebirth or breech inspiration.

  7. WOW!!! Incredible!! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Wow! MamaBirth ( your story on Facebook and I shared before I saw your comment above about knowing where it turns up.... I've deleted my post, but would love to share it with your permission...

    It's one of the best and most well-written accounts I've seen! Congrats Momma!! You and your family are truly blessed!! <3

  9. I don't mind linking to the blog, I just prefer that it not be printed or copied without permission. :-)

  10. Nice! I enjoyed reading your story and I don't go out of my way to read birth stories anymore. I love that you have a picture of the knots in the cords as you know many people are fearful of them!
    Great job!

  11. What a wonderful story! I just had an HBA2C this past March for our 6th baby...God is so good!

  12. Thank you for such an encouraging story. I've had 2 c-sections and am believing God for a home birth with our third. :)

  13. This is lovely! I love that God protected Mary Claire and you so that she would have the birth that was right for her! I am a Doula, Child Birth Educator and student MW. I would love to post the link to your story on my birth blog. I like to share Inspirational Birth Stories to help encourage others that they can do it too!

  14. Waht a fantastic birth story! I've seen a lot of cords before but never one quite that "curly"!!!!!

  15. This is a beautiful story and I am blessed to have read it. I am dreaming of a HBA2C for my next baby but everyone is cautioning me against it since my other to babies were footling breech. Thank you for the inspiration! If you don't mind me asking, where do you live? I am having a hard time finding a midwife able & willing to help me.
    Sarah Z

  16. I loved this story and I remember reading your other birth story as well. How wonderful you were so blessed. Love the picture of the cord too. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Hi there! I found your blog through a local midwife in my area(Northern Colorado). Love this birth story, so awesome. We have a lot in common...I also have 5 children almost the same ages as yours and we are expecting our 6th. My blog spot is God Bless you guys and thanks for posting this story. Melissa

  18. Awesome! Someone shared this link with me because I am awaiting the arrival of my 5th child via VBA4C. Thanks for the inspiration! I got a "kick" out the part where the midwife says that everything is fine and the baby is just kicking and you look down to see little feet. Pretty funny... surely shocking for you at the time, though. Congratulations on your little one!

  19. Stacy, Thank you for sharing this story here. There are so many aspects and such a great attribution. I very much want to talk with you and ask permission to share excerpts and a few pics at a very special gathering soon. Would you please contact me? so I can tell you about it and show you which I have in mind? I love how you perceive your birth. We are all blessed!

  20. Oh wow...I found this story through facebook. This was a beautiful birth story! Brought tears to my eyes!!! God truly is Great!!!! God bless you and your family, and thank you for sharing. :)

  21. What a gift your daughter is! I look at your pictures and smile, but with tears in my eyes since my niece did not survive the knot in her cord. She was born still right around her due date. Kiss your baby for me and know that God is good!

  22. There is definately a great deal to know about this subject. I like all of the points you've made. Best guesthouse in Springs

  23. Thanks for the informative and helpful post, obviously in your blog everything is good.. pink hotel in hawaii