Zach’s first operation – Going to theatre

Emmanuel arrived with lots of snacks and some fresh clothes for me. He had brought me some fizzy drinks and some chocolate as well. He always managed to make me feel better even in moments like this. Emmanuel kissed me and said good morning and then did the same to Zach.

“Have you been looking after mummy?” He asked Zach. I laughed softly. “Yes, he has,” I replied for him.

Then I explained all that the surgeon had told me. I explained the consent form. He held me and asked me if I was alright. I nodded. More tears.

We had no idea how this all worked from here. So, we asked our nurse. She was a very bright person with the confidence to her that we needed today. She had done this millions of times. It was reassuring. So, when she next came over to do Zach’s observations, we asked her what happens. She explained that usually we could carry him or we could take the whole cot and wheel him.

She leaned over and looked at his infusions. “Yes, just prostine will need to come with him. We can take off the fluids. So, I will carry the prostine infusion and you can carry him. Or we can wheel him in his cot. It’s up to you really, but usually, we carry them. So, you can carry him.” She spoke quickly and efficiently which I liked. For some reason she made me smile. My heart rested slightly when she was around. Plus, she had green eyes. I have always thought of green eyes as lucky. She started counting his breathing. I turned to Emmanuel. “Do you want to carry him?” I asked. He took a brief moment to think and then nodded. “yeah. Ok. Yeah.”

It was a waiting game now. The surgeon had seen me in the morning around 9am. Zach didn’t go to theatre until just before 1pm. We sat and waited, quietly. Holding Zach and messaging family. Just before 1pm our lovely nurse came over and said that they were ready for us. She promptly came around the bed area and started moving and changing his wires. “So, are you walking with him?” She asked to confirm. “Yes. Emmanuel will carry him.” I replied.

“Ok great.” She continued to sort out taking off his heart and blood saturation monitors. He was finally left with just one line attached. His prostin infusion. The nurse removed the infusion pump from the grip on the stand and held it up. She turned to us. “Ok, we are ready to go.”

Emmanuel scooped Zach up from his cot and wrapped him in his blankets. He opened his eyes and looked up at us. He was so calm even though he had no milk from 6am onwards. He must have been hungry but he didn’t cry. He just looked at us as if to say ‘it’s all ok.’

A student nurse joined us and walked just in front so that she could open doors and press lift buttons. We walked down the ward towards the lifts. I felt as though everybody was looking. Like we were walking down the aisle. But at the end of this aisle was an anaesthetist, not a priest.

We walked one behind each other, the student nurse, Emmanuel and Zach, the nurse carrying the infusion pump and then me. We fanned out as we reached the lifts. “His second time seeing something other than the ward,” I said. Zach was looking up at the clear blue sky through the glass atrium roof. Emmanuel was looking at his face, holding him tightly. “Look he is just looking around.” 

We watched our son as he took in the sky and I hoped that maybe it was enough wonderment for him to want to see more. Maybe he would be filled with joy and stay. I kept my thoughts to myself. We stepped into the glass lift and travelled down one floor. As we stepped out, we continued to watch Zach. He was just staring at things around us. Looking at everything. Enjoying his closeness with his daddy. The nurses chatted about the corridors down here being colder. But we were in our own little bubble. We walked through glass corridors that were stunning in design but indeed cold. I wrapped Zach’s blankets tightly around him. Zach looked up at Emmanuel and locked eyes with him. For the rest of the walk to the theatre, he didn’t take his eyes of his Daddy. It was as if he was saying ‘it’s going to be ok’ to him. I watched them watching each other. Emmanuel smiled up at me. “He is just looking at me.” He said. I nodded at him through bleary eyes. It was so peaceful and calm. Like we were walking home after a trip to the swimming pool. All water weary and worn out, but feeling snug and dry. We reached the doors to the area where the theatres were. We had to wait a few moments for somebody coming past to let us in as the nurses didn’t have clearance on their key cards.

We stepped inside the theatre area. I didn’t pay much attention to the surrounding but it was a pretty dreary place. No windows, stark white walls and I think green in sections. Small offices lined one corridor wall. A group of doctors all staring at a screen together in each one. We turned a corner. “We are in theatre 4.” The nurse told us. I smiled. “That’s my lucky number,” I whispered to Emmanuel and Zach.

We stepped inside the small room that comes before the actual theatre space. This would be as far as we would go. The anaesthetists were waiting for us. The same ones I had met before of course, plus a new guy. Tayo. They were all so sweet and sensitive. I think anaesthetists are some of the kindest people I have met. It may just be their nature but they are so calming. They explained that there was a heated airbed to put Zach on. I put my hand on it and it was lovely and toasty warm. I smiled at them. That alone was reassuring. Zach was still just staring at Emmanuel. So calm. Emmanuel and I covered Zach in kisses and laid him on the warm air bed cushion. He snuggled in immediately and looked up at us. Fully awake, beautiful. The most awake we had seen him. The anaesthetists explained that they would administer the drugs now that would make him sleepy. We told them we would stay until he was asleep. I held his little hand and kissed his face. I watched as he became sleepy and closed his eyes. His tiny little body, covered by just his nappy, grew soft and limp. His head moved to one side. The anaesthetist gently lifted his head and supported him. I think this was more for our benefit. This was it. The moment we had to leave him. My eyes burst like swollen dams. Emmanuel gripped my waist and walked me outside.

We held onto each other as we retraced our steps back out to the glass corridor. The nurses scooted in front of us and opened doors. They were quietly talking and giving us space. I could hear the nurse explaining to the student nurse that some parents want space and some may want to talk. You have to learn to read the cues and do what’s best. It was very sweet what she was saying. I stopped midway down the corridor the tears overwhelming me. Emmanuel held me as I cried on his shoulder. “My baby boy.” I sobbed.

I was shaking as we left the area and walked around the corner to the lifts. We went back to the ward to collect my bag to take back to Ronald McDonald House with us. The nurses were asking if he was in theatre, as we had waited so long for his surgery when we originally thought it was only going to be a few days after he was born. It was a relief that he was finally having it. I felt relieved that it was finally happening. That struck me as we were back on the ward again. A few other nurses and doctors that we had gotten to know joined us with expectant faces. “He is in there now,” I told them. They all reassured me with smiling faces. I think they were relieved as well. It’s hard to see parents go through this day after day. And with Zach, we were just waiting and waiting as the doctors decided what to do each week and each meeting they just kept waiting. In the grand scheme of things, 10 days is not long at all. But for us, it felt like forever.

We collected the bits that we needed and headed to Ronald McDonald house.

NICU – Meeting my Son

Holding my baby boy for the first time felt surreal and the most natural thing in the world all at once. He was in an open cot on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) ward. It is a clear sided rectangle with a soft gel mattress that was covered with a soft cotton sheet.  On top of the sheet is a rolled-up blanket that looped round him in a ‘u’ shape to form a ‘nest.’ It makes them feel snug and supported in this strange world they have found themselves in. He was wearing his hat and a nappy and nothing else. He was covered in blankets but the room itself was warm as well. He had the three stickers on his chest and stomach that measure his heart. ECG (electrocardiogram) dots that track the beats and rhythm. He also had a cannular in his arm. This was connected to a line that connected to a pump. Inside the pump was a giant syringe that slowly presses and pushes through the drugs. In this case the Prostaglandin E1, Prostin. (Prostin is a hormone that was keeping open the ‘duct’ in his heart to allow oxygenated blood to flow through and avoid the narrowing in the Aorta.) He had another cannula in his foot that was giving him fluids and glucose. He had a red light glowing through a band on his hand and another on his foot. This was to measure his oxygen saturation levels pre and post. Pre – meaning before the blood went via the ‘duct’ into the heart and post meaning after. A significant difference between these two would mean that the duct may have started to close and more Prostin would be needed to keep it open until his operation.

All of this information is new and overwhelming when all you want to do is cuddle your new baby. I had to take in what I was being told and what I was seeing whilst desperately wanting to just stroke his cheeks and rock him in my arms. The machines above his head were all keeping track of everything. We could see the green line creating the rhythmical heartbeat pattern. Another blue one beneath it that showed his oxygen saturation levels. It was like being inside a space ship. We had landed on an alien planet and had no idea what this new language was. Despite having looked around beforehand we still were not prepared for the depth of machinery and wires that would be involved. These were here to keep him alive. That thought does not sit easily on a new mother and father’s minds. What if they stop. What if someone doesn’t notice a change on one of these lines. “What if?” became a huge part of everything. Nothing was certain anymore. All we had was each moment. For me that was difficult. I like to plan things and organize them. Not knowing was horrible.

But back to the room and the cot and looking past all the machines and wires, laying calmly was my baby boy. His dad stood over him, looking proudly into his face. We asked a nurse to help us with the wires so that I could hold him. I had a pillow on my lap to cover my stitches and to help me support him. He was lifted from his cot and placed gently in my arms. I cradled his head in my elbow crease. His tiny body curved against mine. He was warm. He was soft. He nuzzled his head backwards and relaxed into me. He was home. He recognized me. We were one again. I would have stayed there for eternity if they would have let me. But I only had half an hour with him before I started feeling dizzy and needed to go back to my own recovery bed for my blood pressure checks. In those thirty or so minutes we became a family. He relied on us and we fell in love with him. Emmanuel stood next to me, hand on my back. We were all connected. My baby had that soft puffy newborn look to his face. His eyebrows were defiantly Emmanuel’s. His chin was from me. The lips could be either of us and the nose was one thousand per cent my Emmanuel’s side of the gene pool. I loved every tiny section. I stared at him and drank it all in. I cried over his body for the first of many times. The lines and wires attached to him were heavy. We had to hold them to keep them from pulling on his skin. Or worse coming off. It was always a two-person operation. I wouldn’t for a long time be able to hold my son by myself. I would always need someone or something helping me. That stung. I wasn’t going home with my baby to snuggle him in bed and lay him on my chest. I had to look at him lying in his plastic cot being kept here by things that I had no control over. It was going to be the start of a long journey and battle between my instinct to want to take him and hide him and to let the doctors and nurses care for him.

I looked at my Emmanuel and he looked back at me. We were a unit. Our son wrapped in his white dumbo the elephant blanket. His tiny mouth sucking on his dummy. We had a long road ahead of us. The fight harder than we thought and we were only just starting it.

Emmanuel lifted him from my arms and lay him back in his cot. The nurse came and helped him to place the lines and wires back correctly. He settled back down and quickly fell asleep. I left a square of fabric that I had kept with me and had worn in my bra. The fabric was placed next to our son’s head so he knew I was there even when I wasn’t. I cried so hard when I placed that little square next to his head. I felt like all the other mothers in the world have their babies next to them in a bassinet. I had to leave my baby with strangers in a sci-fi world of beeping machines. I could not take in what was happening. All I could see was his beautiful face. By now the Morphine had fully kicked in and I was floating on a drug high. I am glad that during the first week I had the painkillers to numb out reality. I don’t think I would have managed quite so well without them. Mentally and physically.

The Birth

As we drew closer to my induction date on the 16th February it was becoming apparent that Zach would not be turning on his own. Despite my attempts to get him to flip around, he remained in a head upwards position. I had a phone consultation with the doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital where I would be for the birth. She talked through the risks of attempting a breech birth. It did not look good. So reluctantly I agreed that if a 3rd ECV attempt didn’t work that I would have a planned C-section. The ECV and was booked for Monday the 17th of February. I was 39 weeks pregnant.

We arrived in hospital on Monday morning, I was so hopeful that he would turn but deep down I think I knew that he wouldn’t. I knew either way that very soon my son would be born. Either we would start an induction today if he turned. Or I would be going to theatre for a C-section if he didn’t.

We tried the last two ECV’s to turn our baby boy around but he wouldn’t budge. As it turned out Little Zach was stuck in position because I have a heart shaped Uterus instead of the regular oval shape. Or at least That is possibly why, He could just have been really comfortable there.

“You tried baby,” Emmanuel said to me as he held my hand. I was sat perched on the edge of the bed still waiting for the salbutamol to go away so that I could stop feeling jittery. We were left alone whilst the midwife arranged a room for us. We would be staying in until the C-section was booked.

We were checked in and given a private room. Then we waited. And waited and waited. It turns out that we would not be having our baby that day. The hospital informed us that they just couldn’t fit us in. So, we went for dinner and came back to the hospital later. The night was an odd one. We both knew what was coming but we were in limbo. Emmanuel had to sleep in the reclining chair next to my hospital bed for the night. We watched Love island and fell asleep early.

The next day I was woken up by the nurses at 7 am and given omeprazole to prevent acid reflux during the C-section. My blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels were taken and we were again left alone to wait. At 8 am the nurses changed shifts and we were visited once more. This time we were told we would be going to theatre today at some point. Today would be my baby’s birthday. I liked the date that it had fallen on which is a weird thing to focus on. But somehow the 19th Feb just wouldn’t have suited him and likewise the 17th. The 18th was a good day for Zach to be born. I liked it. So today was the day, then we waited. And waited and waited. We messaged family and friends and let them know what was going on but truthfully, we were just kind of floating around with no idea.

At around lunchtime, I was given some compression socks to put on and antibacterial wipes to ‘wash; with’. Along with a gown. I got washed up, dressed down and sat on the bed so that Emmanuel could help me with my compression socks. Trust me when I say there is no easy way to put on a pair of compression socks. It took about half an hour to get on just one sock. My feet were so swollen and the socks, of course, were so tight that the task became a hilarious event of pushing and pulling. It didn’t help matters that I hadn’t shaved my legs for months. Added friction.

Finally, with the socks on, we were called to theatre. It was literately a knock on the door and let’s go. We were taken to another room in another ward. This would be the room that I would come to afterwards for recovery. We lugged all of our bags and bits and pieces across. I set up my bottle of water and tablet ready on the table for afterwards. Then we sat taking in the view overlooking the London eye. We took some last photos of the two of us dressed in our gown and Emmanuel in his ‘scrubs’. The knock on the door came and off we went. We walked down the corridor to the theatre. I was holding my gown closed so I didn’t flash anybody my bum.

The theatre was not what I expected. We walked in through two sets of doors to a green coloured room and that was it. There it was right off the main corridor. You could almost stumble into it.

I was sat on a bed and given a chair to rest my feet on. My blood pressure etc. were all checked before we started and then the procedure was explained to me. I had a cannula inserted into my hand for drugs to be administered. Then a fluid drip was set up. I was given a pillow to lean over and hug onto. The anaesthetist then cleaned and numbed the skin on my back. She pushed between two of my vertebrae with her fingers for a while before finding the correct spot. She then inserted the needle and administered the spinal block. I could feel it, I won’t lie. But it’s not painful it’s more like pressure. Almost straight away my legs went tingly and I felt sick. I was helped to lay down before I lost anymore feeling. Emmanuel was given a chair so that he could sit by my head the whole time. The anaesthetist, Bethany, stood the other side of me. She was amazing. From start to finish I couldn’t have asked for somebody more kind or professional to take care of me. My gown was lifted to be used as a screen and a blanket placed over my lower half – then the part I had been truly dreading and I mean that. The catheter. My legs were moved by the nurses and the catheter inserted. I had no idea about any of it of course but I knew what they were doing as they were talking and telling me as they went. And honestly, that was probably the worst part. It still makes my tummy feel funny just thinking about it.

The anaesthetist used a cold spray to check I was numb all over before anything began. Once she was happy that I couldn’t feel anything anywhere we were ready. I was giving her detailed feedback. “well I know you are there, but it doesn’t feel cold.” I am sure she was used this. I was concentrating so hard in case I could feel anything, but I couldn’t at all. They do explain to you that they take away the pain but not the sensations. So, you will feel the movement. They said it would be like rummaging in a handbag! Nice analogy! There I was, Emmanuel holding my hand, everything numb and ready to go, but the surgeon was nowhere to be found. Bethany stepped up and called to someone to sort this out. She was efficient and assertive. It was just what was needed at the time. Then he entered, in a room full of women a man walked in. He took a moment to introduce himself to me before a proper screen was put up and I could no longer see anything except the blue fabric, Emmanuel and Bethany. The surgeon was concerned by the size of the bed and wanted the side extender removed as he couldn’t reach across. It was what felt like a power play but must have been a genuine concern. The side of the bed was quickly removed. It was time.

My blood pressure started to drop at this point and I began feeling sick so Bethany gave me some drugs to counteract this. I felt better almost right away. I was a bit shaky but this was just the adrenaline in my body, like when you go to the dentist for a filling and afterwards your legs are wobbly. Then it started. Within minutes we heard them saying, we can see the baby’s feet and bum. They all laughed as he pooed on his way out. Then we heard the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life. My baby boy cried as he was lifted out of me. Bethany took my phone and snapped loads of pictures for us. Thanks to her I have a picture sequence of the most amazing moment; the birth of my son. His bum being lifted out. His face appearing. His cord being cut. His screaming face and long body stretched out as they lay him across my legs. He was taken aside for a few moments to be checked and wrapped in a blanket before being brought over to me. Because of the poo, he had to go straight to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) but I had a few brief moments of him placed next to my face. He reached out and grabbed at my face as if he knew who I was and was asking to stay with me. But soon, too soon, he was gone. Emmanuel kissed and hugged me and told me well done before he left with our baby. I was so adamant that he stayed with our son that I am sure I was practically shouting it.  I was alone in a room full of strangers. But the most wonderful strangers. The nurses chatted to me and kept me calm as they started to stitch me back up. I thought I would feel sad because my baby and my partner had both just left, but I felt pretty good. As if I had just done a workout.

As they stitched me back up, the student nurse and Bethany kept up the conversation. “is this your first baby?” “Did you know you were having a boy?” Questions that I would soon get very used to hearing and answering. Safe questions. Normal.

I asked how the stitching up was going. Bethany told me they were nearly done. I asked again “no I mean what layer are they on?” She paused before answering and telling me there were three to go. Fat and two skin. I told her I had watched a YouTube video on how it was done. She laughed and nodded.

The surgeon leaned over the screen and informed me that he had knotted the stitches on the outside and they will likely need cutting off later. The midwives would do this. This is not a normal procedure; stitches are normally all tucked in and would dissolve apparently. I still have no idea why he did this. Perhaps he was trying to start a trend. He said goodbye and disappeared off. The nurses cleaned me up and gave me a painkiller in the form of a suppository. I had no idea and wished they hadn’t have told me. I was leaned onto my side so they could clean the blood off me fully and then move me onto a travelling bed. I joked about being heavy. The five nurses chuckled politely as I am sure they had heard that joke a million times whilst lifting a 5’9 – just given birth so carrying some extra weight – woman across to another bed!

That was it. I thanked everybody as I was wheeled out of the theatre and down the corridor into my room. It was over. I had ‘given birth’ to our son. He was beautiful. That feeling is something I cannot explain. Hearing him cry and seeing his face for the first time. Something inside my heart moved for him.

Four ECV’S and a Breech Baby

The weeks progressed and the news sank in a little. Some days I would feel hopeful and happy. Others I would be full of fear for what was to come. I soon found that working nights in the private members’ club that I managed was getting too much. The loud music, the drunk people and the 4 am finishes left me exhausted. I spoke to HR and started maternity leave early. I was going to miss my job and my friends there but my body couldn’t do the late nights and my mind was elsewhere. So, in late November 2019 I finished work.

I started nesting at home and getting things ready for Zach’s arrival. I wanted to be prepared as well in case Zach was going to come early. So, by Christmas time I had our hospital suitcase packed, the nursery ready and the car seat installed. I had pretty much everything we would need all sorted. I loved standing in his nursery and looking around. I would sit in his nursing chair and imagine what it would be like to be sat there feeding him. I started to find that I needed something to do. To take my mind off things a little bit. So, I got my sewing machine out and made gift bags for my family’s Christmas presents! After Christmas I got into the routine of seeing the midwifes on a bi-weekly basis for regular measuring check-ups.

The local midwifes would measure my bump each week and check Zach’s position. He was in the ‘Breech’ position for the entire pregnancy. Which isn’t a problem, until you get towards the end. At this stage its ideal to have a baby positioned facing down, with their head in the pelvis.

Zach decided that he wanted to stay where he was, with his head sitting under my right rib-cage and his bum sat above my left hip. He was laying diagonally across in utero. This is fine for the pregnancy bit, but not so great for the birth bit. So, I was given the option to have an ECV to try and turn him around. I desperately wanted an all-natural birth. I had been practising my hypnobirthing techniques daily and wanted to use them. With Zach in breech this pushed my ideal labour and birth further away from us. 

What the heck is an ECV? Is short terms two people push your baby around to try and get the head to face down and into the pelvis. It is exactly as it sounds. Brutal. ECV stands for External Cephalic Version. External being from the outside, cephalic being the head and version being turning. So turning the head from the outside as a rough explanation. Here is why they do it and the risks involved.

As Zach is a Cardiac baby, we had to have the go-ahead from his doctors at the Evelina hospital. This also meant having the procedure done at the Evelina/St Thomas’. So, Myself and Emmanuel did the drive into central London the day of the ECV. It had to be done at the Evelina as there is a risk of inducing labour. We needed Zach to be born where his doctors and surgeons were and not need to be shipped across London in an ambulance from our local hospital.

What they actually do in an ECV

They put heart monitors on my belly to listens to Zach’s heart. They monitored Zach’s heart for 30 minutes. He always started moving around when the monitors were on me. I imagined him trying to kick them away from him. The doctor explained that they are really loud for the babies inside. It must be quite a shock, like having your house suddenly start playing loud, bass-filled music. After some time watching the heart monitors they gave me an injection of salbutamol, which works to dilate the blood vessels. This helps to reduce contractions and relax the muscles that are supporting the baby. Salbutamol makes your heart race and your hands shake. It is very unpleasant but thankfully its effects do not last for long. The midwife described it as being flustered. I would say it’s like being high (on life of course) but without the fun bit, just the shaking.

Next my blood pressure and oxygen levels were measured periodically whilst Zach’s heart rate was still being monitored. The midwife and doctor left us alone for a while to let the drugs kick in and the monitoring to continue.

When they came back they checked in with me to see if the salbutamol had taken effect yet. It most certainly had. I felt like I was running whilst laying on a bed. My breath was short and fast and my body was shaking as if I had just squatted 90kg fifty times over. I knew I needed to stay as calm as possible during the procedure so that they had the best chance at moving him. Emmanuel held my elbow (my hand was behind my head) and I started to take long deep breaths. I found a spot on the ceiling to focus on and tried not to think too hard about anything at all. Which is much easier said than done when you have salbutamol and adrenaline rushing through your body. 

The first thing they did was to disengage Zach’s buttocks from sitting in my pelvis, which means they press really hard to try and lift him upwards. They then pushed Zach’s bum up towards my ribs. They paused and the other person moved his head down towards my hips. They did this step by step movement a few times.  This was all fairly bearable. The worst was the hand that was holding Zach’s bum. It was also pressing into me so hard that I felt like my intestines were being squashed down. It was like having a hard-blunt object held in place on a bruise. This was certainly not fun.

They managed to move the Zach some of the way round. Then he must have stuck out his little hands and pushed away or something because that was as far as he would go. He refused to tuck his head in. He refused to let his bum travel any further up. I was in agony from the pressure and they had to stop. The second they moved their hands away he swivelled right back to where he started.

I imagined Zach’s little face in there scrunching up in annoyance at all the disturbance. Kicking his legs out and doing everything he could to stay put. Then when he was back to his favourite position, I imagined him snuggling his head back into where he liked it best. His peace restored. I wanted to explain to him that he needed to help out and move around. But he was comfortable where he was.

It took me a few moments to recover from the first attempt. I soon wanted to try again. It was agony, but I was determined.

ECV take two

They looked on the ultrasound to confirm Zach’s position. He was back with his head under my right rib. This time the midwife and the doctor swapped roles. The midwife took Zach’s bum and the doctor his head. This time round was just as painful but I managed to breathe through it. Again, he got half way around and wouldn’t tuck his head in. They had to move him back to the original position. They can’t leave him half way. So back he went. That was it. The second attempt failed.  

The doctor and midwife advised me that now I needed to speak to my care team and we can go from there to make a decision on what to do for the birth. I knew there and then that it was either going to be a higher risk breech vaginal birth or a C-section that I was facing. I was devastated. We had just been through all of that for what felt like nothing.

Because Zach has a heart condition a breech birth adds more risk. I knew I would be advised against it. These are the statistics. 1 in 1000 babies come into problems in a normal straight forward vaginal birth. Its 2 in 1000 for breech. So the odds just doubled right there. Then with a cardiac baby they go way higher. A caesarean section is 0.5 in 1000. Clearly the odds are in favour of the caesarean section, but I really didn’t want to have major abdominal surgery and need to recovery myself just as my baby will be having his heart surgery himself. There is of course a small chance the baby will then turn by itself. The odds are 3 in 300. I was not happy leaving that hospital. I felt like I had failed somehow. I wanted so badly to be travelling across London back home thinking about my beautiful birth. But no such luck. Not today.

Back at home, laying on my sofa the day after I felt like I had run a marathon. My stomach felt bruised all over and it was painful to move. I was so determined to get him to turn that I spent the rest of that day upside down trying to encourage him to turn. He didn’t.  All I could do was continue to hang upside down and hope. I watched a lot of movies hanging off the edge of the sofa that week.

Risk of an ECV

Just in case you are being offered one here is what they told me about the risks.

Less than 3% of women have an ECV and it causes their waters to break or for the baby to go into distress. If this happens it means you would need to have the baby pretty soon. Possibly via a C-section there and then, or at least within 24 hours.  There is a slight chance that it causes the placenta to come away and cause bleeding. Or it can cause labour to start. The midwife and the doctor where I had mine done at St Thomas hospital in London explained that for them, one woman last year and one five years before that had to have a C-section due to waters breaking at the ECV. That’s it. It is very low odds, but just in case be ready and have you hospital bag with you. That’s what we did. Take some paracetamol for the soreness afterwards and you will be ready for anything. I personally didn’t take any painkillers, preferring to just soldier it out.

It has a 50/50 success rate, some hospitals are slightly lower at a 40% success rate which is the national average. It’s worth trying it if you want to have a natural birth. It’s worth practising those deep breathing and relaxation techniques as well. Be prepared for it to hurt because it does. But so do a lot of things in life. Like labour.