We need more OBs to support vaginal breech deliveries

Dr. Howard Vogel, Third From Left, Is Assisted...

“Recent studies reaffirm earlier World Health Organization recommendations about optimal cesarean section rates. The best outcomes for mothers and babies appear to occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good (Althabe and Belizan 2006).

The national U.S. cesarean section rate was 4.5% and near this optimal range in 1965 when it was first measured (Taffel et al. 1987). In more recent years, large groups of healthy, low-risk American women who have received care that enhanced their bodies’ innate capacity for giving birth have achieved 4% cesarean section rates and good overall birth outcomes (Johnson and Daviss 2005, Rooks et al. 1989). However, the national cesarean section rate is much higher and has been increasing steadily for more than a decade. With the 2007 rate at 31.8%, about one mother in three now gives birth by cesarean section, a record level for the United States.”  ChildbirthConnection.org

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One in three births are cesarean?

Okay, so I have shared that my soul is at peace with my cesarean. Spiritually, I can use this experience to learn and grow. I trust that life brings me what I need when I need it.

But I think some clarification may be needed: I am still a great believer in natural birth and continue to think the political and economic pressures (well, I am talking insurance, mostly) as well as well-meaning concern from doctors (who live at the edge of where ‘everything could go wrong’) can sometimes lead to unnecessary interventions – meaning mother and child would have done just fine without them but it made everyone feel better that ‘everything possible’ was done. Yes, there is a place for intervention – but I still believe they should be a very last, break-in-case-of-emergency resort. And stats tell us it is not so. 5 to 10% of women medically need cesareans. 30% of women birthing in the US have cesareans. Shocking, right?

In fact I may be one of the cases where no intervention was *needed* as such and where arguably having the surgery did more harm than good. There was no medical emergency. Baby was breech but otherwise all was well. Labour was progressing. Baby was not distressed. I had even had a cat-scan (after much agonising – as nobody takes an X-ray of their pregnant belly, lightly) that proved my hips were wide enough to birth a breech baby, naturally. Indeed, millions of women have delivered breech babies vaginally, perfectly safely (including my mom – I was a breech footling). There is a slight increase in the risk of complications, yes, but most women birth breech babies just fine. The ONLY reason they stopped my natural birth process (after over 20 hours of labour) and said it was time to go to the OR is because it was 8 o’clock on New Year’s Eve and the only doctor with a specialty that includes vaginal breech deliveries (out of 5, I think, on the whole West Coast – all 5 in this one, fab hospital, UCSF) she was the only one who was even in the area during the hols and she was now off to her own New Year’s Eve party. As I say, I feel at peace with this. I believe God gives us the experience we need, in order to grow. But in purely practical, human terms it is pretty sad that there is only one hospital in the Bay Area (and allegedly in the whole of Western USA – covering, nearly 100,000,000 people) that will even consider doing vaginal breech deliveries, now – which really should be the mother’s choice, wherever possible, in my view. It is crazy that if your labour starts on the ‘wrong’ day, you are automatically scheduled for a cesarean whether it is in your child and your best interest or not. Parties and leave days come first. Not that I begrudge doctors their time off. I think they deserve and NEED it. I just wish there were more qualified doctors assisting this kind of birth so that the schedule could be fully covered!!

Why not use a home midwife, you say? Why, I had one of those. If you remember, I was planning a homebirth but my midwife, lovely as she is, had never taken the lead on supporting a breech delivery and did not feel qualified/experienced to do so on her own, without calling in back-up, and it turns out that was not easy to find. So, here too: please midwives do not neglect this important skill. Make sure you can confidently identify a breech baby in the womb and that you have the experience you need to deliver a breech baby vaginally, please!

Cesareans, as we know, decrease chances of successful breastfeeding – which in linked to all sorts of things from improved immunity, higher IQ and even decreased behavioural problems. Cesareans are major surgeries with risks for the mother – and even if it goes well it takes time and care to heal properly and completely. And cesareans deprive children from the final ‘inoculation’ of good bacteria that other children acquire passing through the birth canal, such that cesarean born children are two to eight times more likely to have allergies, later in life. Natural birth also gives babies a ‘massage’ that stimulates their whole skin and pumps out the lungs – cesarean babies miss out on this and can be born with water in the lungs. Cesareans should never be a given, don’t you agree?

So, yes, modern medicine can be a life-saver, literally. But in this case, it more saved a doctor’s chance of seeing the New Year in, in style. My plea: please train more midwives and OBs in normal, natural, vaginal deliveries of breech babies. Our babies deserve a chance at natural birth and all the health benefits that come with that!

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Turning a Breech Baby (and Empowering an Expecting Mother)

This is one awesome post with information about choices and paths for mothers carrying breech babies. If you find out your baby is breech (like mine was), read this before doing anything else and know that you do have choices, beyond cesarean, which may suit you and your baby more:

KellyNaturally.com | Techniques for Turning a Breech Baby.

Thank you Kelly for writing this. This is both beautiful and practical.

Beautiful Birth Story

In the run up to giving birth I tried to read lots of beautiful, loving birth stories to counteract the negative spin giving birth seems to get in the mainstream, so often. I read a lot from Ina May’s collection. Today I read this and it sent me right back there, to that sacred place of strong women and birthing as a spiritual rite of passage.

Whoa there, internet peoples!…

Whoa! It seems I brought upon myself the wrath of the internet (or at least of a small but vocal minority within it) with my post about FreeChildhood’s blog).

My intention was never to hurt Rachel’s feelings, of course, or in any way to oppose the ‘free birthing movement’ but rather, in the first instance, to draw any readers of this blog’s attention to an awesome, ground-breaking blog which is, yes, controversial but well worth reading. Go give it a chance or, if you like, wade into the debate, here.

Introducing ‘Free Childhood!’: a mommy blogger with a unique angle

Breastfeeding an infant

Image via Wikipedia

I want to introduce you all to a mommy-blog I have been following called ‘Free Childhood‘. When scanning my google reader for blog updates I find my eye wondering to FreeChildhood to see if she has a new post. I don’t always agree with her but I always want to know what she is going to say next!

I mean, for example, she has a habit of trawling through twitter for people dissing public breastfeeding and then slamming them. This is, in a way, quite a horrible post. It is filled with negativity and conflict to the point that I found I didn’t want to finish reading it… and yet… the image of the militant-cyber-breastfeeding-activist stayed with me. It is not my style, I guess you know that by now, it is not my style at all. I am more of a live and let live kind of a gal.

I approach breastfeeding with naturalness and expect people to respond in kind and so far I have found they do. I tend to believe what you put out is what you will get. If you put negativity, paranoia and aggression out there then you will find it met by an equal opposing force. The Universe obliges and makes your world what you think it is…

Still as different as we are in how we react to the world, many of our basic beliefs are shared. We are both pro-natural-birth, pro-homebirth, pro-natural-breastfeeding, pro-child-centered-learning, etc. I guess my interest in her writing is akin to the fact that I am a big GreenPeace supporter even though they are all about in-your-face activism and I more favour meditation and prayer as a way to change first yourself and then the world. Somehow, I guess, supporting GreenPeace balances out my energy, a bit of yang to go with the (over developed?) yin I got going. So, it is with FreeChildhood that I find I just can’t look away, entirely.

I wonder if she is happy living this angry life… but then it is none of my business. This is how she is approaching her enthusiasm for natural mothering practices.

She is also way out there. Whenever I think I have found the limits of hippydom in motherhood I meet somebody new who challenges my thinking. FreeChildhood wants and is going for not only a home birth but an unassisted (or ‘Universe assisted’) birth. I had literally never heard of that. She finds the presence and practices of even a homebirth midwife too intrusive. I got to say, raised on Ina May as I have been, it never occurred to me to think of midwifery as intrusive, I just thought it was a natural, ancient, gentle support to birthing women. I had really never heard anybody say anything to the contrary, until now. Again, I may or may not support this view of hers but I am thoroughly fascinated by it. I kind of get it, too, but not sure I’d have the courage or inclination to see it through. I like the idea of some sister support through my labour, thank you very much.

Anyway, go check her out and give her some love. She is out there, fighting for us, for freedom to breastfeed in public, for unschooling, for ‘Universe assisted’ births and for generally doing it our way. You go girl. You got our back!

Keeping my birthing Zen – what worked for me

You may remember, I planned a homebirth and instead got a c-section. Yet, I have got to say I felt remarkably at peace, as I moved through the process. Somebody recently asked me what one piece of practical advice I would share with someone about to give birth, who wanted to stay calm and centred. Me being me, I found it hard to stop at ‘one’. Everything below is what worked for me, a description, rather than a prescription.

Two things leap to the top of the list. The first came before delivery. In my ‘Birthing from Within‘ class they led us through this meditation, they call it confronting your tigers (or your fears). The second is a flower essence mix I took during labour to help with my energy and with staying strong and true to myself (in making decisions regarding the choices that come up).

So, the ‘facing your tigers’ meditation, if I remember correctly is just this: first think of the thing you are most afraid of regarding birth. For me I had just learned my baby was breech so my fear was that she wouldn’t turn and I’d have to have a cesarean. Then you imagine that ‘worst case scenario’ in detail and how you would feel. Then put a big cross through that image in your mind. Next, open your eyes and think what you would need to be able to cope with that same scenario. For me it was ‘acceptance’ although it could be something very practical too, like support, music, talking to the doctor first, whatever… Next you go in and visualise the same scenario but with this thing you needed. For me I saw my daughter coming out triumphantly through a window in my belly and I became sure that whichever way she came out was going to be amazing and in accordance to God/the Universe’s plan. A great serenity came over me since then. You can repeat for every fear you find inside yourself.

The flower essences I took were Australian Bush Flower Essences and they were outstanding (as always). I really didn’t feel tired, even though my labour lasted 30 hours!!! and I felt very centered and in tune with my higher self or intuition in making any choices (for example regarding who could be in the room, whether to go for a certain intervention and when, etc.). I would suggest identifying what you feel you are most likely to need help with during the labour and take ABF Essences which target that.

Go here for a list of essences. They are amazing, truly!

My combination of essences, which I mixed myself at home, included Macrocarpa (for energy) and Sturt Desert Pea (for staying in and trusting my own truth) among others – seven in total. I am sure it was the essences that enabled me to say I could go another 8 hours, if needed (till morning) after having gone through 30 already!

A couple of tennis balls pushed between lower back and the wall or the bed are useful for a while to alieviate lower back pain. After that I really wanted a person pushing on my lower back, hard. That really helped.

With breathing I found that for me, personally, that K. breathing deeply WITH me was much better than someone saying ‘breathe in… breathe out’!

Additionally, I really benefitted from watching videos of real births and reading the inspiring birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s books. I found reading and seeing real births helped me gain a more realistic grasp of what it would be like. It was especially good for K to see them too, to ready himself for what was to come.

Plus I would recommend the documentary ‘The Business of Being Born’ produced by Ricky Lake (which we saw online, here). It is very illuminating as it discusses the medical, financial and human backdrop to birthing in western countries.

Apart from that, just go with it and stay in the moment… which I found happened naturally: mind, body and soul are all focussed as each contraction or surge pulls you inexorably into the Now. I rode each wave of sensation without anticipating what was to come or dwelling on what had passed and I found the pain was bearable. Or at least each rush reached a peak of pain which was excruciating but lasted, at that maximum intensity, only a few seconds – and I knew that so even if for those seconds I thought I was going to die, seconds later all was well and I was singing show tunes in my head again and thinking ‘I can do this. I am doing this!’

Trust in your spirit’s intuition and surrender to what is, meeting what arises. Breathe.

Anya’s Birth

Below is the story of Anya’s birth. It is long because I wanted to capture the details for myself, for posterity.

So, I think my ‘birth story’ has to begin way before the birth. Let me start with the dream. Throughout the pregnancy I had many vivid dreams including visions of my baby girl (even before we officially knew the gender) but there was one other reverie that really stood out. I dreamt I was in hospital and the doctors were going to have to open me up. Well, having lived ‘naturally’ my whole life and only ever having treated any health issues with herbs and supplements, surgery was a big step in a direction in which I would normally never go. In the dream it was a chest operation (for palpitations I was experiencing in real life). But something happened in that dream, something shifted in me and I submitted, I surrendered knowing that if I needed an operation, I could do it.

I have always said that natural medicine and mainstream medicine should stand side-by-side, complementing each other… but in practice I still turned always to traditional medicines, spurning the more chemical and intrusive interventions of the medical establishment. With this dream I felt a peace come over me and knew that I could and would have an operation or take harsher drugs if that was what I needed to do for my baby.

Fast forward some months. We discover our baby is breech. The most common outcome for breech births is cesarean. I went into overdrive and tried everything anybody suggested for turning a baby in the womb: homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga inversions, etc. Baby remained head up. All of these approaches helped me in some way. But none of them turned the baby.

So I went up a notch. I went into hospital (after much fandangling with insurance people to clear this) for an external cephalic version – where they turn the baby, manually by pushing on the belly to move the baby. That didn’t work either. It bloody hurt (as I did it with no anesthetic) but she refused to turn. She kind of half turned and then came back to the same position. I decided I have a strong-willed baby with a mind of her own, who is, much like her mother, a non-conformist. She was going to do it her own way.

I felt I had relaxed fully, despite the pain, during the version, allowing the doctors to work… but Kelly (my homebirth midwife) and K (my partner) convinced me there may be a chance that if I did another version, this time under anesthetic the baby might turn and I could still have the homebirth we had all planned for, together. I didn’t feel it would work, but went along anyway, just in case and so nobody could say I hadn’t tried EVERYTHING.

Funny thing, the next version, under anesthetic didn’t work… but I had a profound experience in the OR room which really helped move things for me.

I went in alone (i.e. without K) as they administered the pain killer and K scrubbed up (ready to join me and hold my hand during the actual procedure). As I entered the room, exposed, in a hospital gown, surrounded by doctors and nurses I had just met and sterile medical equipment, I started to repeat a mantra in my head. Then something a friend had said to me recently came to mind. He had said, with the best of intentions (but not knowing baby was breech): “I hope you have a conscious and spiritual birth”. Well, that conjured up for me the image of a homebirth, in a water tub, with dolphin music in the background and some women chanting… something like that, you know?! But suddenly, as I lay in the OR, in a flash, the absurdity of it hit me. Do those things really make for a more ‘spiritual’ birth or a more ‘conscious’ one, at that? How could they? Is the Buddha more enlightenment when he is in a cave, than when he is the city? Was Jesus more self-realised on the mountain top than when he walked in the city and spoke to prostitutes?? Surely not… my job is to be conscious no matter where I am or what kind of birth I have. Spirituality is in me, not in my surroundings.

So, though I hadn’t wanted to go for this version and though in the end it did not work… it was still this experience that pushed me to find peace with whatever arose for me, during the rest of this process and the birth.

We had to come into hospital a couple more times after that (so much for the low intervention birth I had planned): once to check fluid levels, once for pelvimitry (a catscan/x-ray to measure the size of my pelvis). This was not optional. If I wanted to even consider a vaginal birth, still (with baby inverted) this hospital, UCSF, is the only one on the West Coast that does this and this X-ray is one of the conditions. Between my palpitations and now, baby being breech, I had more ultrasounds and X-rays than anyone I know, during pregnancy… despite having started this journey saying I didn’t want more than one ultrasound (as I read some research which linked it to developmental problems for kids). Oh well – you get the birth you ‘need’, not the birth you ‘want’, as they say.

So, I was cleared for a vaginal breech delivery. This is good news

A few days later, I lost my mucus plug – great excitement. I had a few contractions later that day, while walking through IKEA! I spoke to my midwife and asked if this was it and she basically said, “Keep watching see what happens”. Nothing much happened and the contractions subsided – much to my parents chagrin as they were really hoping to meet their first grandchild, before having to go back to Europe in a few days.

Thankfully a few days later, contractions re-started, this time I was buying a car, negotiating the price, while pretending nothing was happening (contractions, what contractions?!). I came home and had dinner, timing the surges on an iPhone ap… But without telling my parents ‘cos I didn’t want to get their hopes up in case this wasn’t the real deal, again. Had a lovely dinner cooked by my mum. As soon as they left to go to their hotel, I jumped in the bathtub to relax. The rushes kept coming. They were still quite manageable (obviously, as I could disguise them all through dinner) – like mild period cramps.

During the night they started to intensify. Rushes were coming every 5 to 10 minutes and getting stronger. I let K sleep through the night though as I felt he’d need the energy to support me tomorrow. I too was able to sleep between contractions, but each one woke me up again.

Early in the morning (around 5.30 or 6.00) I woke K and said it was getting stronger. We texted Kelly as we didn’t want to wake her but it turned out she was already attending another birth. Full moon will do that – draw all the babies down.

Because it was the holiday season, UCSF had given us a schedule of when the doctors who are able to do this type of birth (vaginal breech delivery) were on schedule. Today was New Year’s Eve… from 8am there would be no doctor on call with a specialty in this area. We would have to be an automatic cesarean if nobody could help deliver her ‘normally’. So, Kelly advised us to get our arses into the hospital, even if chances are we were still in early labour – just in case the night doctor (due to leave at 8.00) was still there and would stay on to make sure we had a chance of delivering her naturally.

We got into the car to go to the hospital. K forgot to close the boot… then after noticing that and getting back in the car, he forgot how to drive!

We met Kelly at UCSF. She said as soon as she saw me she could tell I was ‘only’ in early labour. It felt like real labour to me!! The hospital staff did an assessment on me. I was dilated to 4 cms, 50% effaced and contractions were coming every 5 to 7 minutes. Validation: I was (just) in active labour. However by the time I had been assessed the doctor who could have helped deliver my baby vaginally was no longer on call. The new attending physician, Dr Schaeffer , came in and talked to me along with an intern who we had met already Dr Rasha Khouri. Dr Schaeffer said that due to the fact that she was breech and there was nobody on call today (New Year’s Eve) that could deliver her naturally, we should move to a cesarean, now. They could get the OR prepped in half an hour!

I was relieved and happy that we were allowed to go into labour naturally (something my yoga teacher had reminded me was important – to follow the baby’s rhythm)… but was shocked that my chances of a natural birth were dashed that quickly, after all this. Having said that, work in my birthing class had helped me find a great peace with having a cesarean if that was what I needed. I had discovered in me that what counted was my baby coming into the world, triumphantly – no matter which ‘exit’ she chose. Anyway, things seemed to be unraveling very fast.

Dr Khouri who knew us and our wishes for a natural birth interceded. She is very pro-vaginal-breech-delivery herself – a lot of the interns are, as that is what they come to this hospital for, their unique approach to birthing, very respectful of women’s wishes and nature’s ways (for a hospital, especially). She took the list of all the doctors who are able to oversee this kind of birth and called them all to see if any would be willing to come in to assist my birth today. One said yes. The catch was that she was only free till 8pm. If I was not ready to birth by then she would not be able to come in (she had an end of year party to go to, understandably). At 8am the next morning another doctor would come in who could do this. Therefore there would be a 12 hour window at night in which nobody could handle this procedure (and again we’d have to go straight to cesarean, if baby were to come at that time).

So, I was allowed to continue in labour and they would see how it was going and re-assess at 8pm.

We were given our own room to labour in – with a fantastic view of the bay. Like a hospital version of a penthouse, we decided. I also texted my parents who came over to check in and give support.

Most of the time it was just Kelly, K and me in the room, as I laboured. For most of those hours (from about 10am onwards) I dozed or rested between contractions and then pulled all my resources together for each contraction. I wanted to scream and to start with I did. It felt like a big relief but Kelly told me to conserve my energy and use my breath instead. That felt very different, in some ways it was less gratifying as it gave me less of a release, but I could see how it was stronger, too, somehow. I also realised everything I had learnt in my Birthing from Within class was useless to me now. Hey, as I said, the emotional processing we did there was brill… but the techniques for coping with pain did not work for me at the time. The only things that helped me were a) following my breath and b) having K breathe with me, leading the tempo – but in fact, though he offered often, we only did that a couple of times. K said that I was so self-sufficient that he felt rather helpless, shut-out even at that point.

Later as the pain intensified, the only thing that brought relief was pressure on my back K brought out some tennis balls he brought. I put them under my lower back in the bed and pushed against them with each surge. Later I got K and occasionally Kelly to push my back, that was even better, as they could push stronger. In one of my dozing periods I felt my dad came to me in a dream with some more practical advice, which helped.

I had no drugs at this point, only a saline drip to keep me hydrated.

Kelly tried to get me to move positions. I resisted it as moving sounded so hard… but once I got there it did indeed feel better: standing up leaning on a table or kneeling on the bed with my arms on a yoga ball. Kelly said these would help move labour along, as it was progressing slowly.

There was a hospital nurse who checked my progress, too. She was very nice. My parents, especially, bonded with her as she would bring them news of my progress as they waited outside. They did come in a few times. Dad gave me a reflexology massage which helped, and it was good to see them… although mostly I needed space, to get on with it.

The nurse urged me to get into the bathtub for relief. Kelly wasn’t pushing that at first. Some hours later, when I had been labouring a long time but was still ‘only’ at 6cms, Kelly suggested I get into the tub. K told me later this was to slow my labour down as she realised at this point I would probably not make the 8pm deadline but if labour were slowed down I might be able to make the 8am window the next morning.

The bathtub was a mixed blessing. Between contractions it felt good, but when contractions came (and they were getting stronger now) it was very hard for me to find relief as there were no tennis balls there and K and Kelly found it hard to get a good angle to push on my lower back. With each contraction I remember a repetition of thoughts, something like this: as it started I would think ‘Oh my God I have got to get out of this tub’, as the contraction reached its peak I would think ‘I can’t do this’ and as the contraction began to subside I would think ‘I am doing this’. Between contractions I would instantly forget the pain and feel all was right and wonder what all the fuss was about… and then it would start up again.

At 8pm Dr Schaeffer came in and said they couldn’t hang on any longer. An intern checked me and said I was fully effaced but still only at 6cms. They suggested I went in for a cesarean now. I asked if I could hold on and keep labouring till 8am. I had always thought the tiredness would get me. When I heard labour often lasted 14 or 15 hours I thought it sounded unbearably long, yet here I was about 24 hours into it and still asking for an extension! I think the Australian Bush Flower Essences I was taking were really helping to sustain me.

The doctors explained that, for a breech delivery, they needed everything to progress, in a text book manner (as it already carries higher risks). If I were somehow able to slow my progress down and ‘hang on’ till 8am before giving birth, by then I would have been in labour so long that it would no longer be considered an easy, straightforward birth and they wouldn’t recommend me for a vaginal breech under those circumstances, anyway. So, cesarean it was.

I had given it my all and was grateful that I had been able to go into labour naturally, as I said and now I was thankful that me and my daughter had been able to labour together for so long, too – at least we would benefit from all those lovely labour hormones like oxytocin and pro-lactin which help mood, bonding and perhaps most importantly breastfeeding.

And so to the OR it was. By this point I could feel the baby coming down (though they had said she was still too high) and really wanted to push. Contractions were coming every one or two minutes (max). And this is the point they wheel me into the OR for the anesthetic. The anesthesiologist was really nice and said soon I would no longer feel them… but the thing was in the meantime the contractions were at the strongest ever, coming really fast and there was nobody who could push on my lower back – that was awful. A nice nurse pushed once but after they had sterilised my back ready for the spinal block nobody could touch that area. Those were the worse contractions ever: me sitting there in a gown, surrounded by strangers and nobody to push on my back for relief… but it was only a few, 5 at most. And then they put the needle in my back, between my vertebrae and seconds later my legs started to go numb. K was then scrubbed up and allowed in the room. He held my hand through the procedure. We were both behind the sheet that divides the sterile field in which they operated. I could feel nothing of course but could hear people chatter. It didn’t bother me at all – I was soon to meet my daughter.

Then they took her out. They asked if K wanted to watch but he said no (too squeamish). They cut the cord but K got to perform the second cut it, bringing it down to size. I still hadn’t seen her. I had detailed all I wanted on my birth plan. And the doctors did follow it. They conserved my placenta, for example… but meanwhile I still hadn’t seen her. They were cleaning her or whatever. Then they brought her over to the weighing station and by wriggling my head, I could just see her… just her butt. Funny. she would have come out butt first had she been delivered vaginally, she came out of the ‘window’ in my belly butt first and now, even I first had sight of her butt… then I wriggled some more and saw her face: she was cute!!!!! I was soooo happy. She was beautiful, my darling baby girl. I had asked to have skin-to-skin immediately, even just cheek to cheek if nothing else. The young nurse I think was also learning and wanted to whisk her right away to put her under a warming lamp but I insisted and they brought her to me first and we put our faces together and felt each other’s warmth this way for the first time.

Then they took her to the nursery and K went with her. Kelly was then allowed into the OR while they stitched me up (with my uterus out of my body!!!).

Later, they brought Anya into the room I was in. Kelly put her on my chest, in the middle. It was amazing, we watched her wriggle and move her way instinctively to my breast. In about 5 or 10 minutes she found my nipple. Kelly helped with the final bit and positioned her head. She latched on immediately and that was it, we were breastfeeding. What a miracle!

I was in love… K and I were and are in love with this beautiful baby girl. What a joy. We are so grateful to Kelly, my parents and the amazing staff at UCSF for helping her come into the world. Indeed, thank you to all who supported us in this journey and got us to where we are now: at the start of an even bigger, better, more challenging and ultimately, we hope and pray, more fulfilling one.