Meimango's Pregnancy Journey, STEPS, Sharing

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Meimango’s Pregancy Journey – 33 Weeks

Well this is a turn up for the books.  I’m happily collating natural birth stories from my Gaskin collection, noting techniques, dog-earing pages, book-marking research papers on my computer; and Bump decides it will throw a new challenge at me.  Or rather an old one, with a twist.

A fortnight ago, I had my community midwife appointment and it all went swimmingly.  I fired my long list of questions at her, and she fielded each one with a straight answer.  Some of the answers weren’t to my liking (ie. no eating or drinking during labour, constant fetal monitoring, limited amount of time for progress from 3cm to 7cm, chemically induced third stage), but from this I could work out the type of environment and the protocols that would possibly surround the birth.   At one point, she laughingly acknowledged that she could tell from my questions which books I had been reading.  Then she asked me whether I would prefer to birth at the new Midwife Led Unit (MLU) within the hospital.  I couldn’t contain my excitement, because I knew that women attempting a VBAC weren’t allowed on the MLU as a rule.   So, she said she would arrange an appointment with the Supervisor of Midwives at the hospital.  I’m due to see her later this week.  I spent a happy weekend knowing that I had a chance to avoid the medicalised circus.

However, come Monday, my very first consultant appointment arrives.  My husband, son and I see a lovely doctor, who is part of the Consultant’s team.  She is heavily pregnant herself and seems very pro-VBAC.  She even counters some of my community midwife’s claims about the no eating rule, and the rigidity of time/dilation.  It all seems to be going quite well, although whilst answering questions, I’m thinking, “Soon I’ll be convincing the ‘Super Midwife’ of my eligibility to birth at their lovely MLU!”

Then Lovely Pregnant Doctor asks me whether I’d been experiencing a lot of fetal movement.  I falter.  Over the weekend I had commented to my husband that Bump seemed to have become less lively.  I had put it down to a busy weekend, with little time to properly monitor.  My husband, busy toddler wrangling in the corner of the room, pipes up, and reminds me to speak up.  I really don’t want to mention it as it seems such a small point.

I grudgingly remark, “I think there’s been less movement over the weekend.  But I really can’t be sure.  I’ve had to deal with the little fella…”, cue my son throwing a particularly spectacular wrestling hold on my husband,  “…so it’s probably just that.  Could it be that Bump has moved into a less obvious position?”

Lovely Pregnant Doctor’s forehead wrinkles, “We can put you on the CTG.  (The CTG records fetal heartbeat and uterine contractions) But first, let’s hear the baby’s heartbeat”.

I get up on the examining table and reveal my belly.  The Doppler picks up a perfectly rapid heart beat.  I declare, “Well that’s fine, I’m happy with that!”

“I would be happier if we monitored you a little longer, we can put you on the CTG and it shouldn’t take more than half an hour.  It’s best to be certain about these things”.

I feel silly taking up time because of my lack of observation.  But I agree.  Lovely Pregnant Doctor leaves the room to arrange a CTG.    At this point my son has had enough of waiting around the hospital, so I ask my husband to take him for an explore.   After what seems an age, Lovely Pregnant Doctor returns and tells me that the Consultant has said she would like me to go for a scan instead.  She is concerned that there may be too much fluid surrounding the fetus.

I leave several phone messages for my husband explaining the situation, telling him I’m going to a different part of the hospital, and to make his way back if he wants to see the scan.

I wait quietly outside the Sonographer’s room.  I feel myself relax, then I feel a distinct kick, and then another.  I feel like a fraud.  The Sonographer pops his head out of the door and calls my name.   He asks me why I’ve been referred to him and I explain, with the caveat of having just felt a big healthy kick.   I giggle nervously.   My husband has missed my calls.

This suite is particularly well equipped with a second screen within easy viewing.  I lie down and have the gloop applied to my belly.  I feel another kick.  “That will be the baby then,” the Sonographer says drily in a vaguely familiar Midlands accent.  He takes me on an unexpected tour of Bump, regularly saying that all is fine.  I ask which way Bump is facing.  I joke that I don’t want a repeat breech experience.  He says that she’s facing up with her head by my ribs.   I gulp.  He finishes by showing me Bump’s face.  I can see her plump nose and distinct mouth peeping through what I think are her arms.  I erupt with laughter, her nose looks ridiculously, adorably fat.  The Sonographer finishes abruptly and starts typing up a report.   He says for me to wait for the Doctor outside the room.   In the waiting room, there is a couple waiting nervously for their appointment.  I feel guilty for having taken time from another person’s scan, and I try to hide my delight at having seen the Bump’s nose.  I look around for my husband and son and receive a text saying that they are having lunch.   After a while, the Sonographer calls out the nervous couple’s name and ushers them inside.  He doesn’t meet my gaze.

Eventually Lovely Pregnant Doctor fetches me back to her room.  She asks me whether the Sonographer explained what he saw.

“Oh yes,” I reply, still high on Bump’s features, “He said she’s breech, but it’s early days yet.  Plenty of time to turn around!”.

“That’s true. He didn’t tell you about the cord?”


“Oh.” her face falls.

She tells me that there is a double loop around Bump’s neck, which will restrict her movement.   Being breech complicates the matter.   I ask her the likelihood of Bump untangling herself.  And she says she doesn’t know; it’s unusual to discover cord loops before a birth, as scans aren’t routinely offered at my stage in pregnancy.  She escorts me to the CTG and calls in the Consultant.

I Googled the Consultant before my appointment.  She is a very experienced lecturer and has published well received papers on uterine rupture and VBAC; I know that I am in expert medical hands.  When she enters the room she has an easy authority about her, and speaks with a slight Indian accent.   She explains that due to the double cord loop they won’t be able to offer me an External Cephalic Version, in order to turn Bump from breech position.   A nurse straps me into the CTG.  I ask the Consultant if Bump manages to untangle herself, whether I could have a vaginal breech birth.  She shoots me a withering glare.  She says that she will see me in two weeks to monitor, and again at 36 weeks.  If at 36 weeks the baby is still breech, I will be booked in for a cesarean.   She leaves.

I ask Lovely Pregnant Doctor whether the Consultant said 36 weeks, and she confirms.  I remark how early that seems.  She offers me a half-smile and tells me that with the cord loops I need to be vigilant with my personal monitoring for fetal movement.  She leaves.

The nurse instructs me on how to use the CTG and I am left alone.  After 30 minutes, I call my husband as I leave the room and tell him that our girl is playing up already!

Over the past week, Bump has been somersaulting and has generally made herself very obvious.  Each time she moves I hope she isn’t becoming more tangled.  I’m still preparing for a VBAC in the hope that Bump is able to escape her cords.  I’ll do my bit, but how she comes into the world seems to be entirely in her hands.