Spoiler alert - Luka is 2 months old as I’m writing this so yes, we did have a baby. I had to go back and reread my last blog to see where I left y’all at and man, was it intense to find out the baby was breech at 38 weeks. Things didn’t get super better either - because Luka arrived almost a week late. But let’s dive in.
We made it to Turrialba on Wednesday, April 24th. We were due Sunday, May 5th. I tried to do everything to turn the baby but he wasn’t budging. On Monday, April 29th Rebecca checked my cervix and I was at 3 cm and about 50% effaced - pretty exciting. It meant that labor could happen any day now. The next day, Tuesday, April 30th, I lost my mucus plug and I was like “yes! It’s beginning! Let’s go to San Jose!” If only I could go back in time and say “wait! Lots of women lose their mucus plugs after being physically checked - wait!” Oh I laugh and laugh now that I’m not in the thick of it anymore. And on that particular Tuesday, I had run out of data on my phone so Zac had to take the bus into town, got minutes for my very, very broken phone, while I packed for an estimated 72 hours in San Jose. Just enough stuff to stay a night and have a baby and come back to Turrialba. *literal palm to my face because spoiler alert! We’re going to be in San Jose for the next TWELVE nights - while I’m packing only 3 of everything. I have so many loads of laundry in my future.
The taxi arrives around 3 pm and we’re off! Very excited to have a baby very soon! The ride is bumpy and my Braxton Hicks contractions are getting worse so I start timing them. I also turn on my Waze to make sure we’re going the right way. About halfway there the taxi driver’s Waze stops working and he’s attempting to get directions from a family member over the phone. My Spanish is not amazing but I direct him with my Waze - while continuing to experience and record contractions - to our AirBnB. I feel very accomplished - and I haven’t even had a baby yet! My contractions are about 5 minutes apart and there was a pretty big one before pulling up to our AirBnB in San Jose so I phone up Rebecca and she says head over to the hospital just in case.
We arrive a Clinica Biblica around 5 pm and find out no, children are not allowed on the birthing floor after 5 pm any day. So Zac waits with Dario in the lobby - I cry while telling the nurses I will not be physically checked by anyone other than Dr. Freddy Perez. This is because if anyone finds out I’m breech they’ll send me to an OR for a C-Section. My contractions have slowed immensely now that I’m no longer on a bumpy mountain road but the nurse is incredibly impressed with my lack of pain when I do have one. And I only have one. In ten minutes. Labor is fleeting. Freddy comes and checks, still 3 cm, but he anticipates that I’ll be back in the middle of the night so he’s going to keep the phone close and we head back to our AirBnB. We also now realize that if I go into labor outside of normal business hours Dario will not be allowed on the floor which means Zac will need to stay with him and I’ll be on my own - well, with Rebecca and Freddy.
Zac hates our AirBnB. We will stay at three different AirBnBs during our time in San Jose. Ugh.
Rebecca spends the night and nothing happens. She' checks me the next day and I’m still at 3cm. She spends the night again but also has a life and work and family so she says call me when you’re ready and heads back to Turrialba. On Thursday, May 2nd, two wonderful friends, Corrine & Rachel, come all the way from Tamarindo and we go shopping at the mall & eat at Taj Mahal. They do more shopping while I get an amazing prenatal massage. I was hoping that I would go into labor while they are here so they can stay with Dario and Zac can be there for the birth but alas. No labor. As they leave in the morning, I lose more mucus plug. Or a new mucus plug. Because even if you lose a mucus plug - it can grow back. I’m learning all the things.
The AirBnB was not super clean, had lots of mosquitoes due to lack of screens and zero airflow because there wasn’t a single ceiling or floor fan in the house. So we move on to a condo on Friday, May 3rd.
The condo is great! But only 2 bedrooms so when my parents arrive on due date Sunday, May 5th we buy an air mattress and they sleep in the living room. They’ve made it before the baby arrived so now Zac will definitely be there for the birth of baby #2! We really loved the condo but the entire time we’re only renting places for 3 days at a time thinking the baby is coming. The baby is not coming… so we move again on Tuesday, May 7th - two days overdue.
On Wednesday I go out on the town with my folks. Actually touring San Jose rather than sitting on a yoga ball bouncing willing a breech baby to makes its debut. Rebecca stops by while she’s in town for other mamas and I’m STILL at 3cm.
Thursday, May 9th I get another prenatal massage because why not? I’m doing nothing but laundry because I only have 3 shirts & 2 pairs of pants with me because I thought we were only going to be away from Turrialba for 3 days max. Dario is watching a stupid amount of television the entire time we’re in San Jose.
Friday, May 10th I go to a hippy store and buy castor oil. Enough! I’m going to start this labor! This entire time I’ve been posting Instagram stories about everything. Lots of folks are watching this unfold. Before finding out I had a breech baby in my belly I had approximately 20 people watch my stories - probably just my mom 20 times. But now - now I have 200 people watching my stories. It’s a bit surreal and sometimes the stories get pretty personal due to the physical aspects of growing and then attempting to push out a baby. But it keeps me busy. So the plan is Saturday morning I’m going to drink the castor oil and see what happens. My folks are only in town for 2 weeks and it would be a big bummer if the baby didn’t come at all for them and I’m pretty done with being pregnant. But wouldn’t you know…
Saturday, May 11th 1:30am I’m sleeping - dead to the world - and POP! My water full on breaks. The noise literally woke me up and the gush of water made my heart race. My water broke with Dario while I was in the birthing tub so I didn’t really notice it and I had been laboring for quite a while. But this was startling. I went to bed thinking I would drink castor oil the next morning and now I’m sitting upright - thank goodness, on a pile of towels. I begin timing my insanely intense contractions. With every wave of labor there is a gush of water being push out of my vagina. I’m amazed at how much water comes with each contraction. And these are no Braxton Hix contrations - oh no! These are the real deal. I’m 100% sure. 1000%. A wave of intense pressure that starts at the back and sweeps to the front. Immediately they are 60 seconds long with a couple of minutes in between. I was anticipating a slower start - you know, like 30 seconds long with 5 minutes in between - but no, I’m in full labor. After only 30 minutes I send a screenshot to Rebecca and Freddy and go take a shower, thinking the warm water will slow things down a bit.
In the shower I very much realize that I need to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The contractions are getting way more intense. So much so that when I get out of the shower I have to move to all fours to survive them. I’m thinking, “I’m going to have this baby right now!” So I get up, get Zac up, see I’ve missed 4 calls from Rebecca in the last 15 minutes and hail an Uber. We get my dad up to help carry the stuff and say Bye to my mom - Dario is still very much sleeping.
We get in the Uber at 3am. This poor driver had no idea what he was getting himself into. He drove so fast and right down the middle of the empty roads and yet when we got to railroad crossings he would slow WAY down and cross them diagonally - what a sweetheart! And of course when we go to the hospital at 3:15am I wasn’t in any shape to give a massively positive review. They offered me a wheelchair at the hospital and I turned it down - what an ego I have. I had to stop at every contraction to literally keep the baby from falling out of me - I wanted to push SO BAD! And then we got out of the elevator on Floor 4 (Floor 5 is the birth floor) and I immediately get down on my hands and knees on the floor of the hospital. Everything was so intense - this entire experience was so intense. A nurse comes up and is like, “What’s happening?” And I yell, “What do you mean what’s happening?!? I’m having a baby!!!” She kindly directs us back to the elevator and we go to Floor 5 - I’m livid with Zac. It’s all very comical now but I was furious then.
We get to the birthing floor and then take me to a bed that’s not a birthing room bed. The nurse is trying to get me to lie on my back so she can hook me up to a monitor but I’m on all fours and not moving. I’m refusing to lie on my back - because that would be super painful! How is it that a labor nurse would not understand that I don’t want the weight of labor on my low back? I’m amazed every time I see women laboring on their backs in movies. If you’ve had a baby without an epidural and labored/delivered on your back let me know because I don’t think you exist.
Freddy arrives at 4 am and checks me. I’m at 10 cm and totally effaced. He asks if I would like to push - WOULD I! All the videos and posts I’ve watched and read out about delivering a breech baby have all said its best to be on all fours. So that’s where I start but the issue is I couldn’t really relax when the contraction would subside - it was too much work to keep myself up. So I laid on my side, thinking I would still push on all fours. But that was too much work and once Luka popped his butt out I couldn’t move from one to another at all so I stayed on my side with a leg lifted. And I had read that a breech baby would have more of an in and out flow to the delivery. Never in any of the video or articles did they mention that as the baby would come back into the uterus a bit while not pushing that it would be the most painful experience ever. Therefore - after two of those push it out and the baby comes a little bit more back in that I said - NO MORE! and after each contraction push I used all of my muscle strength to keep that baby’s body as far out as humanly possible. And then another contraction push and then another keep that baby as far out as humanly possible. So essentially I was pushing the entire time.
Rebecca called Freddy and asked how far along I was - he was like, she’s 10 cm and pushing - drive as fast as you can! And she FLEW down that mountain road arriving at 4:20 am. I was so happy when she got there.
With breech deliveries there is to be no intervention from the doctor physically - the mama and baby work together to make the delivery happen. First his bum came and then the hips and then - as he was folded in half - the torso and legs. There was a point that I literally yelled at Freddy to pull the feet out and he refused - reminding me that I needed to do this myself and boy when those feet flopped out I was so relieved. No in and out, no more folded up baby. Just the head was left. Freddy looked at me and said “the next push, you push as hard as you’ve ever pushed. I have to help but I’m not going to tell you what I’m doing - you just push.” I was so ready for this to be over. And then the next contraction came and I pushed like I had never pushed before and with the worst pain of my entire life, Freddy turned the baby over, stuck his finger in his mouth to pull the jaw down and out came Luka’s head at 5am sharp. Huzzah! I had delivered a breech baby vaginally! I was so happy it was done with. No more worrying. It was done. I had the biggest sigh of relief.
They tried to lay the baby on my belly but there was something tugging in my uterus. Freddy pulled the umbilical cord and the placenta came out. For reference, twenty minutes after Dario was born I pushed out my placenta with two pushes. Freddy just pulled out Luka’s placenta. And it was HUGE - and the cord was super short. So that’s the lack of weight gain - my placenta was taking all the food and the cord was too short to let Luka turn over. But without that lack of weight gain I never would have gone to the 38 ultrasound and we never would have known he was upside down. Funny how things work.
So after waiting 12 days of Luka to come he made his journey earth side in 3 1/2 hours. In reality, I was 10 cm and ready to push in the Uber, probably in the shower.
Luka weighed 3625 kg - almost 8 pounds, 51.5 cm - 20 inches, and his head was 38 cm - 15 inches. I delivered a breech baby vaginally in Costa Rica with no tearing and lost only 2 tablespoons of blood. Amazing!
So if you’ve found this blog post because you are pregnant with a breech baby, give yourself the option of delivering vaginally. Don’t be swept away with the fear of something bad happening. I heard that so often, what if, what if, what if. I had my dream birth plan swept away from me and still rocked my birth. Give yourself time to sit with the different options. I always knew that C-Section was a possibility - I think all women who get pregnant know that. But I was the best candidate for a breech vaginal delivery - I had had a successful vaginal delivery before with no complications. Luckily I was already under the care of some amazing midwives that know breech is simply a variation for delivery and I found the one doctor in the entire country that let’s you try to push breech. So in my story it all worked out. Everyone and their mom will tell you it’s all about getting a healthy baby in the end - but your birth story will be part of you forever. Advocate for yourself, or if you can’t or feel uncomfortable with doing so, hire someone to advocate for you. Please. Honor yourself during your pregnancy and during your labor and delivery. Remember you now know someone that has delivered a baby breech without a C-Section so the next time you find out a friend is breech you can say, “Oh, I know someone that delivered naturally with a breech baby, maybe you don’t have to get a C-Section.”