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All According To Plan: A Breech Homebirth Story

Our birth plan with Chase was rigid: Rose knew exactly how it would happen and exactly what she wanted. But life taught her that things do not always go according to plan. Little did we know that this lesson was going to be delivered in spades.

It was October of 2007 when my wife, Rose, started getting baby fever again. Five years had passed since she was last pregnant with our son, Chase. We loved being a family of three, and the idea of adding another was a little scary. I enjoyed the chemistry of our tight little family unit.

In April of the following year, Rose became pregnant. Our decision to birth at home was an easy one: We’d had Chase at home, and we loved our midwife, Lynda. From the beginning, she helped us lay out the plans for our new pregnancy and birth. When we first heard the heartbeat, Rose and I were in tears, and Chase was grinning from ear to ear.

The seasons changed, and so did Rose. As when she was pregnant with Chase, she was all baby. November and the holidays were upon us, and our birth plan was complete. Rose was more open to flexibility this time around. Our birth plan with Chase was rigid: Rose knew exactly how it would happen, and exactly what she wanted. But life taught her that things do not always go according to plan. Little did we know that this lesson was going to be delivered in spades.

One thing Rose was adamant about, however, was having a water birth. She missed the opportunity with Chase, and this time around we had a huge tub in our bathroom. We reviewed the plan with Lynda and agreed to meet again after Thanksgiving. One day, when Rose came to the office for her regular adjustment, I went to release her round ligaments and noticed the baby’s position seemed different. I palpated her tummy and my gut twisted. It felt as though the baby was breech. The extremely strange part was that her adjustments were going great. Her ligaments released perfectly, and yet this baby seemed to be sitting in the pelvis.

I kept my mouth shut. The last thing I needed to do was worry Rose. Lynda was coming over that weekend, and she would let us know.

When Lynda showed up and palpated Rose’s belly, I watched her face go from curious exploration to worry and confusion. My heart sank with the confirmation of our baby’s position. Lynda told us the news, stating she was fairly confident our baby was breech, but only an ultrasound could provide anything conclusive. Rose and I were both shell-shocked. Lynda sat down and talked about our options, then left us to discuss the news. She promised to bring videos next time to show us how a breech baby could be delivered vaginally.

After Lynda’s departure, Rose and I began tossing around ideas of how to get the baby to turn. My ego was bruised; keeping moms and babies in balance is what I do. Why was my baby breech? I began calling and e-mailing my colleagues, pulling textbooks and notes from lectures. I combed through websites like Spinning We tried everything. I took her to the acupuncturist and the upper cervical chiropractor. We went swimming and administered Chinese herbs; I even bought an inversion table to use at the house. We prayed.

In the meantime, Lynda visited and showed us videos demonstrating techniques for breech delivery. One technique in particular helped my mind relax. It allowed the mother and baby to work together, without pulling and tugging on the baby’s spine. It appeared very gentle.

During our journey, one of the most valuable people we visited was a doctor in the Chicago area who has specialized in home birth for more than forty years. He was trained by Alaskan midwives, and is a rare treasure. We made an appointment with him and discussed our situation. In the kindest manner, he told us he did not see a dilemma at all. He said, “In virtually all circumstances, you are safer at home than in a hospital.” He went on to tell us that breech babies are able to be born vaginally. Our take from what he said was that it really wasn’t such a big deal. As we walked out of his office, I felt like I could breathe deeply for the first time in days.

The next week Rose had acupuncture, and that evening she stayed up walking all night because the baby was unusually active. Meanwhile, I slept like a baby, unaware. In the morning she told me she believed the baby had flipped. We were excited and called Lynda. She arrived and checked Rose. Sure enough, the baby was nearly vertex. We were elated, and Rose started focusing on the water birth again.

One week later, however, our baby decided breech was the way to be. At this point Rose was eight days past her due date; it was the day before Christmas Eve. An ultrasound confirmed the baby was in a complete breech presentation. Based on their analysis, the baby wouldn’t arrive until around January 13th. All we could do was laugh, since Rose’s original due date was December 15th. Rose and I decided to take the rest of the day off and go swimming. That might convince our baby to turn. After all, we had almost another three weeks before she was to be born.

The Christmas holidays were filled with family and fun. Chase was enjoying Christmas, and we were accepting that God was handling the arrival of our baby.

On the morning of Dec 26th, I began getting ready to go into the office. Rose was caring for Chase, and I noticed she was stopping in mid-sentence when she spoke. When I asked why, she said, “No big deal, I’m just having contractions.” When I asked how often, Rose told me to stop worrying and go take my shower.