Chelsea Walters - Birth Story
Chelsea Walters-Birth Story
In life, things do not always go as planned. You might think you are ready for any outcome, you may think you’ve done all the research, but the truth is that life is rarely so straightforward. This is especially true when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.
My name is Chelsea Walter, I am a physical therapist and today I will share my birth story.
When I first discovered I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a totally natural birth. I did my research and decided that was what was best for me and my baby. I thought I was prepped both mentally and physically for a natural birth experience. I thought I would have some semblance of control. Life had other plans in store.
As you may have guessed, I did not end up having a natural birth. Instead, I had an unplanned (but not emergency) c-section with my daughter. I have always been someone who enjoys thorough research, but the truth is, until the day my daughter was born, a c-section was not even on my radar.
My whole pregnancy was really uneventful until the last 2 weeks. I went into pregnancy at a healthy weight and age. I focused on eating a healthy diet and had no significant past medical history. I wanted a natural experience because that was and still is my lifestyle.
My husband and I found out I was pregnant in February. The nausea was intense for the first few months. I spent the end of winter and spring eating and drinking what I could stomach. Come summer, I went back to my normal water consumption and organic eating habits.
Because we were still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I went to a different OBGYN group than I had seen yearly for wellness checks. I saw them up until 27 weeks, but they were not an ideal fit. My husband wasn’t allowed to attend visits to the old group. I never felt comfortable or listened to there and they brushed off my wishes to have a natural birth. Ultimately, I switched to a new office that had midwives.
We had our first ultrasound at what I believed to be 7 weeks along. I was surprised when they told me my baby looked closer to 5.5 weeks based on size. I’ve always been very in tune with my body and cycle and I was almost certain my dates were spot on.
I’m petite and was a small baby, the same case with my husband, so it made sense to us that our growing baby would be on the small side. In hindsight, this probably should have been looked into sooner and definitely contributed to me needing a c-section. When I had the 20-week anatomy scan all was normal. At that point, no other ultrasounds were planned.
At my 36 week appointment, I was measuring small so my midwife recommended an ultrasound the following week. At that ultrasound, we discovered that my baby was breech and my amniotic fluid was low. My midwife had said my daughter was head down up until that point so I was very surprised by this new development.
I had heard that you could really feel it when they flipped that far along. I spent the next week working on inversions and stretches to get her to flip, but heartburn made this difficult. I would realize after her birth that she had been breech for a long time and my care team was wrong when they said she had been head down before 37 weeks. I still have a rib flare on one side where her head was.
I went back at 38 weeks for a repeat ultrasound and to my dismay, the fluid levels had dropped further. My baby was nice and snug in her breech position. Prior to that visit, no one explained to me what would happen if the fluid levels stayed low.
My care team explained to me that my daughter needed to come out within a day. Had I known that, I would have had my husband come with me to that appointment. Instead, he went to work like a normal day. That was a difficult moment for me, as I was not prepared for my baby to come early, let alone within the next 24 hours.
At the end of that appointment, I knew the natural birth experience I had wanted would not come to pass. I called my husband crying as the midwife told me to head to the hospital.
My husband met me at home, we assembled our birth bag and headed for the hospital. My head was spinning. Would my baby really be here by tomorrow?
When we got to the hospital, I didn’t know yet if I was going to be induced or have a c-section. I still had a shred of hope that they could manually flip her and induce them, but that hope was fleeting.
We discovered I was already on the schedule for a c-section. Soon they took me back to the pre-op/recovery room and hooked me up to the monitors. At that point, the nurse told me I was having some contractions. Reality set in. This was really happening.
I waited about 45 minutes for the OB to come in. I had never met her before. I couldn’t stop thinking about how she would soon be cutting into me. She told me in no uncertain terms that flipping the baby was not an option, there was too much risk with the low fluid level.
As I said before, I research everything, but I had wished I had done more on c-sections and the OBs in the practice. It was about 1 pm that I learned for certain I would for sure be having a c-section.
My baby girl would be born that day.
We had to wait because I had eaten breakfast that morning and they required we wait 8 hours after eating. I had 3 hours to process reality.
They let me walk myself to the operating room. I had been an observer in an OR before as part of my profession but of course, I was never the patient. I didn’t know what to expect.
I was so nervous about the spinal because I’m claustrophobic and couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to feel or move the lower half of my body. I don’t know if my strong background in anatomy helped or not.
The anesthesiologist explained what was happening in great detail. I could picture everything in my mind’s eye. I felt the anesthetic as it hit each spinal level as my lower half went numb. My husband came into the OR and sat by my head, supporting me through each step.
Before we knew it, my daughter was out. She cried and wailed as they held her in front of the drape for me to see. It may be a cliche, but it’s true. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
My birth didn’t go at all to plan, but she was here and healthy. My husband brought her over and I got to touch her for the first time. I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy.
She was small for a full-term baby but so cute. My husband had to step out because he had put his paper jumpsuit on backward and couldn’t get his phone out of his pocket to take pictures. They wheeled me and my baby girl back to recovery where we immediately did skin-to-skin bonding.
Even though I never wanted a c-section, it was fairly easy and I had no complications. My pain was so minimal. Other than some lingering numbness above my scar, I feel back to normal at 5 months postpartum.
It may not have been what I planned, but our baby girl is here, healthy, and happy. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.