- Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopathic Doctor - https://www.wavelengthwellness.com -

My birth story: Jasper

Wow, I can’t believe it has already been two months since Jasper arrived on October 8th! I’ve been meaning to write about his birth and an update on our family for awhile, but caring for a newborn plus a three year old during a pandemic is not easy!

Jasper was born at 39 weeks via scheduled caesarean. I was lucky to work with the same two midwives who delivered my daughter Alexandra and my pregnancy was fairly uneventful and remarkably similar to my previous pregnancy.

I was originally planning/hoping for an unmedicated home birth but Jasper had other plans! He was positioned transverse (meaning he was lying horizontally across my belly) and stayed that way right to the end despite my many efforts to get him turned head down. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that you can’t come out sideways!  

Trying to Turn a Baby

I tried exercises/stretches, walking, acupuncture/moxa, osteopathy, chiropractic, meditation/visualization…  Then at 37 weeks we tried ECV (external cephalic version) at the hospital, where an obstetrician tries to manually turn him.  This was very uncomfortable AND didn’t work, so we scheduled a caesarean for 39 weeks and planned to first try ECV AGAIN that day.  Two weeks later he was still stubbornly transverse and the second ECV did not work, so we went ahead with a caesarean that day.

Changing Perspective

I was feeling really upset and frustrated in the latter half of my third trimester to realize that I would likely NOT have the unmedicated home birth I had envisioned.  Unfortunately, two even more awful things were in the news that helped me realize that I could have it much worse:  

First, Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman in Quebec, died in hospital after documenting discrimination and insults made towards her by hospital staff.  I have always received great medical care when I’ve needed it and in fact I have had at times received outstanding care. The kind of situation where people have gone far above and beyond to help me. I am so fortunate that I have NEVER worried about being discriminated against or receiving inferior care.  Even though I was worried about surgery, I knew I would receive excellent medical care.  The fact that Joyce Echaquan could not feel this same confidence and was treated so poorly over and over and then died is heartbreaking.  It was ignorant of me to not appreciate my privilege in having access to great treatment and care.

The second unfortunate news was that Celebrity Chrissy Teigen suffered a very difficult pregnancy loss and documented her grief on social media.  This very quickly made me appreciate that for the most part, everything with my pregnancy was going well.  I was healthy, my baby was healthy, he just wasn’t positioned for vaginal birth.  And while I was doing my best to make it possible for him to turn head down, I had to accept that it was beyond my control.

Caesarean Birth

This birth experience via caesarean was so different in both positive and negative ways.  

It was great to be able to pack and prepare because I knew the exact day and time I would be going to the hospital.  It was WAY faster (we arrived at the hospital at 7:00am and he was born by 12:02pm) than Alexandra’s birth (over 24 hours in labour) but then we had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours.  And it was a long 48 hours…  

The labour and delivery ward is a noisy, chaotic place and we unfortunately did not have a private room (we shared with another family who happened to snore very loudly!) so we had little space and nurses/doctors/support people were in and out of our room waking us up constantly.  Also, due to COVID, we had to wear masks most of the time.  If you think wearing a mask during the day is bad, trying sleeping with one!

Going Home!

I was so happy to get home where I was more comfortable but the initial few weeks of recovery was more painful and I was much more limited than with my previous birth. Thankfully I had less pain and healed quicker than expected so now I’m feeling good.

I’m sure that is at least partially thanks to the supplements, herbs, and homeopathics (working with my Doula Dr. EeVon Ling, ND) I used immediately pre and post-birth as well as the exercises (Core Confidence program) and self-care I’ve been doing (Caesarean Birth Self-Care course).  I definitely don’t recommend a c-section if you can avoid it, but there are lots of tools to help you through it more easily!

Notice I have been saying “caeasarean birth” rather than c-section? This is something I learned in the Caesarean Birth course – just a change in wording to recognize that birth via caesarean is just another type of birth different from vaginal birth. Personally I felt so relieved to have Jasper here safe and to move forward from all the worry I was feeling but some women feel like their birth experience is diminished or doesn’t live up to their expectations if it was not a vaginal birth and this is definitely not true! Having a caesarean birth is still a monumental experience!

Alexandra seems to be 100% happy Jasper is here and wants to be involved in all aspects of caring for him, including inspecting his dirty diapers, holding him, and choosing his outfits.