My pregnancy was an absolute picture of perfection. Until things turned upside down, or in fact, didn't turn at all.
It was around 32 weeks that my obstetrician made alerted me to the fact that my baby was still head up, in the breech position, a possible complication for the natural drug-free birth I so wanted. I knew very well that the possibility of heading towards a caesarean, due to the breech positioning of my baby, was far from what I wanted. I remember crying for days after my appointments. I'd see a beautiful little family sitting at a café and burst into tears.
My husband would try to tell me that it would all be okay, that no matter how our baby was born, I would still have my beautiful little bundle of joy. But I just felt so helpless. And so guilty. Guilty, knowing the incredible benefits of a natural birth and knowing that there was a possibility I may not be able to provide that for my child. Worthless, that I would somehow have failed as a mother right from the beginning by failing to birth my child naturally. Cheated, that my dream of pregnancy and birth was somehow tainted and ruined.
True to my determined nature (both a friend and a foe when it comes to acceptance of outcomes) I decided that there still was plenty of time for my baby to turn and I was going to do everything I could to make it happen.
Here's what I did.
1. Head down, bum up
Postural exercises, 45 minutes three times a day. Awkward at the best of times. Terribly awkward with a basketball protruding out of your stomach.
2. Sofa, no more
I was bouncing, rocking and circling on that exercise ball every second that I would have normally been enjoying reclining on the couch.
3. Laps, laps and more laps
I swam every day. And while swimming, I used my mind to tell my baby to turn. I'd do little tumble turns at the end of each lap which, as a very amateur swimmer, probably looked more like a distressed blowfly flapping about.
4. Back cracks, three times a week
I had never been to a chiropractor before and all of a sudden, I had a new bestie. She gave me chocolate and I was bringing her recipes.
5. Themed music
I streamed songs with any remote references to 'turning' and 'spinning'. I now conclude this was probably due to an imbalance of pregnancy hormones as surely this must sound insane.
Tiny little needles stuck into different parts of my body. Acupuncture in a dingy room surrounded by plastic curtains and amber coloured bottles with strange herbs and potions on the adjacent shelf. Looked like magic and rather surprisingly, felt like magic!
7. Baby dance party
Boom bap at the base of my belly to coax baby down there for an afternoon of easy listening. Baby Daddy's voice telling baby to come on down. Shining flashlights at baby's head and moving the light in the direction it needed to turn. Clearly baby was completely uninterested in participating in my little breech baby disco.
8. Smoking sticks on my toes
The strange art of moxibustion. This was my lowest point by far. I'd sit outside, stripped naked in an old bathrobe with smoking Chinese Herbs burning exactly one centimetre from my little toes. As if it wasn't hard enough just seeing my toes over my large bump in the first place, there I was contorting my large pregnant body to get my hands in close enough proximity to my feet. I'll never forget the smell of those smouldering and putrid smelling sticks.
9. I poked and prodded
And rubbed every part of my belly over those weeks trying to guess my baby's position and coax it to spin around. This poking and prodding finally ended with an attempt for an External Cephalic Version, where my obstetrician manually manipulated the position of my little sleeping beauty with his hands from the outside of my stomach. Safe to say, not much turned except for the colour of my husbands face from a healthy pink to grey. Baby was staying put. I left and went to eat a donut.
So how did this story end? The story of a perfect pregnancy, turned seemingly tragic in my completely irrational and overly emotional eyes?
I accepted what needed to be done. Being a good mother meant doing what was best for my child. For me, that was foregoing my dream of a natural birth and giving my baby a safe entry into the world via caesarean section.
I knew I had done all I could and this baby was just meant to stay snuggled with his head close to my heart, even until the very moment he was pulled out into our beautiful world and into my arms.
My caesarean section happened to be booked in on the day of my late father's birthday. Just another sign it was meant to be.
The day before, I cleaned the whole house, stocked the fridge, baked cakes for the hospital staff and placed my bags by the door ready to go. One great positive for a planned birth- the opportunity for impeccable organisation.
I then gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. And it all makes sense as to why he called the shots - he's a determined, stubborn, independent and headstrong little boy (just like his mother!).
So many people told me that when I looked at my little baby, it wouldn't matter what his birth narrative was. And while I didn't believe it then, I believe it now. His wonderful birth was simply the beginning of our happily ever after.