When she arrived she was a dream come true. A pink, bawling cherry on our cake. She just came in a different way than I expected: she was breech. My two very swift previous births had been initiated by my waters breaking just like in the films. So on this day last year, when my waters broke at midday, I knew the course of events.
Until she pooed. I was obliged to show the midwife my baby’s very first poo (meconium), upon which she leapt up and said she needed to check something as it looked like the baby might be bottom down. How clever, I thought, to be able to “read foetus poo”, like a palm reader, but she’d got it wrong of course. All of my external examinations had shown bum up, head down, including the one two days previously, at my 40th week check.
We moved to a different room and a mobile scanner was wheeled in, and all the while I was mouthing to Willy Wonka, in a Les Dawson-style whisper “She isn’t, she won’t be, she’s not.”
I knew immediately that would mean a C-section, so I asked out loud and yes, it would be a C-section. They prefer it that way, it’s safer and frankly I’d not read enough about breech births (i.e. nothing) to be able to put forward a case against it or even query it. By now, my contractions were fierce and furious, and knowing my track record on deliveries, I urged them to move quickly.
I was a little gutted, because out of the whole experience I had found the pushing stage to be utterly exhilarating. I was sad to miss that moment when the animal instinct takes over, but I was also in pain, felt the urge to push and wanted BUB.3 to be safe.
So to theatre, and with Emeli Sandé’s ‘Clown’ playing on the hospital radio, our acrobatic daughter was born. The spinal block was administered with a heavy hand and reached my nose, so I could barely hold her, shaking like a leaf and heavily monitored for hours afterwards. It didn’t matter.
It was only days later that I remembered what had happened to me a week or so before the birth. We’d been sitting watching Breaking Bad, a pastime that dominated the latter part of this pregnancy, when baby started to move fiercely. For about an hour it was as if she was trying to break out of my stomach, the whole thing was surging, rising and falling.
I had been horrified by Google’s assertion that she probably had the cord caught around her neck and was trying to wriggle free. I told myself she was just active, getting impatient, stretching her legs. But I knew it had been something more than just regular movements.
It is only with hindsight that I am now 99 per cent certain she swivelled up into a breech position that night and the last person to check her, a junior doctor at my local GP surgery, had missed it. I guess a bum and a head feel quite similar?
I didn’t even know for sure if it was possible for a baby to move that late in pregnancy, but apparently they can. I’ll never know for sure if mine did.
And I’m sure it’s not the last time my daughter will assert her free will, shock the living daylights out of me, cause me inconvenience and pain and leave me a physical wreck.
But I’ll try to always remember the little pink face, the shock of black hair and that first shaking, awe-struck cuddle whenever she does.