I'm just days away from finally meeting this baby I've learned to love for the past 9 months. It's been an amazing and humbling experience watching a life grow in my ever-expanding belly. While many Moms struggle with teaching their children kindness, I've recently discovered it has been the other way around for me.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I started researching all the ways to have a healthy child. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but all end with an unspoken theme: kindness. Kindness to your body, kindness to your emotions (even when your ankles are as big as your calves and your strut has turned to a waddle), and kindness to that little baby that can't enter this world without you.
So when I found out at 32 weeks into my pregnancy that our baby was breech, I set out on a mission. For the next month and a half, I did everything I could to help turn my baby to a safe and healthy delivery position. In the midst of it all, I learned most breech babies in the U.S. are born via cesarean, given the risks involved with breech deliveries. The only option I could see was to somehow get my baby to flip or c-section city here I come. Don't get me wrong, women undergo cesareans all the time and are absolutely fine. In fact, many prefer a scheduled c-section to hours of intense labor. Since I've never had to undergo major surgery and always envisioned giving birth to my child, the thought of having a c-section was terrifying to me.
As the weeks went by, I tried every "technique" I could find to encourage a baby to turn. I was crawling on the floor, going to Chiropractors, doing handstands in the pool, even burning moxibustion sticks at acupuncture points on my toes. By 37 weeks, none of it had worked. I was devastated and exhausted. My doctor suggested the only option still available was an external cephalic version (ECV for short). It's a procedure where doctors push on your pregnant belly to manually rotate the baby. It sounds and looks insane. Just do a YouTube search and you'll see!
While an ECV has a 50% chance of working, it also comes with risks. Although small, there is a chance the procedure could force an emergency c-section, which is why it's done at a hospital with an operating team on standby. Oh, and the best part – it is painful! At least it was for me. I could feel my stomach muscles fighting the doctor’s every move. Afterward, my belly felt like I had just been in a car accident. My baby was monitored the entire time and thankfully didn’t mind it at all. Now comes the worst part – it didn't work. Baby was still breech.
This is where kindness kicked in for me. I had to be kind to myself and let go, which meant mentally preparing for an inevitable c-section. I felt defeated but knew that having a healthy baby was the ultimate goal, even if he or she arrived breech.
By 38 weeks, my doctor said there was one last shot at another ECV if I wanted to try it again. Honestly, given the last experience, I was scared. I didn't know if I could do it again. So again, I focused on being kind to my baby and myself. I told the doctor the only way we could do this is with an epidural. While the thought of that long needle frightened the heck out of me, I needed to reduce the pain and relax through the procedure. I knew in my heart this was the only way it would work. So as I stared at the ceiling in the operating room, doctors were able to turn my baby out of a breech position in less than 3 minutes. The baby was fine the entire time, as the heart rate monitor didn’t even fluctuate. I have never felt so much relief in my life. It was as if all my fears had finally faded away and I was in this haze of sheer happiness.
It’s no secret that kindness can come in many forms, but often many of us forget to be kind to ourselves. Sometimes that can mean letting go and accepting certain outcomes cannot be changed. Other times it requires personal sacrifices for the good of your child. While some may call it kindness, those experienced in this arena simply call it… being a Mom.