Following an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured one of Shana’s fallopian tubes, she unexpectedly got pregnant almost immediately after her first loss. At the time, she was living in London, England and preparing for her husband, Doug, to move in early 2020. During the first half of Shana’s pregnancy she dealt with heavy bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, untreated prenatal depression and anxiety, and was working towards submitting her PhD dissertation all whilst living on her own. As she and her husband were preparing for his transatlantic relocation, COVID-19 began shutting down borders, which prompted Shana to move back home to the DC area instead.
With the help of Shana’s long-time therapist in Maryland, she was introduced to both a psychiatrist specializing in perinatal mental health as well as Ursula, a doula and founder of Birth You Desire. With all three of their support and a special shout out to modern technology allowing for virtual services, Shana was able to do all she could to get her mind, body, and spirit prepared for the second half of pregnancy and everything ahead. At the start of her third trimester, Shana and Doug learned their baby was intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) and was breech, which required weekly visits to the midwife and OB for fetal monitoring as well as countless hours spent practicing Spinning Babies exercises, yoga, and receiving repeated chiropractic care. Whilst the conversations around the necessity of an early emergency cesarean section intensified as the weeks went on, their daughter had a miraculous growth spurt at 36 weeks, allowing her to reach full term (but was still stubbornly breech). An external cephalic version (ECV) was scheduled at 39 weeks.
Leading up to the ECV, it was uncertain whether their doula would be able to be physically present during the birth because of quickly changing COVID-19 restrictions. In a rare situation, Ursula’s virtual presence was a blessing because after 3 attempts of trying to get the baby to turn, Shana was taken into the operating room to deliver their daughter, Poppy, by cesarean section, whilst Ursula was on the phone with headphones shared between Shana and Doug offering support and guidance the entire time (even without COVID-19, it was unlikely she could be present for the ECV and certainly not in the OR).
Aside from being more mucousy than what’s considered normal, Shana, Doug, and Poppy had a blissful first 24 hours together in the hospital. After that, however, an incredibly astute nurse noticed that Poppy would turn slightly blue when feeding and took her to the NICU for a quick peek. There everyone learned that Poppy was born with a fairly common congenital abnormality called tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA), an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea and between the esophagus and stomach. She was immediately transferred an hour away to the NICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital with Doug, whilst Shana waited to be discharged the following day. Poppy had a successful primary repair of her esophagus and trachea at 3 days old and then proceeded to be in the hospital for the better part of 4 months. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only one parent could be present in the hospital with Poppy at a time, so with the support of their families, Shana and Doug relocated to Baltimore to live in a nearby hotel. They encountered various complications including a blood infection, repeated narrowing of her esophagus, trouble feeding, terrible reflux, and very poor weight gain, which all required prolonged hospitalizations and several procedures. After 4 months, it was discovered that Poppy had a hiatal hernia caused from her initial surgery. She received a final surgery to address the hernia and had a gastric-tube put directly into her belly to help with feeding, which, so far, has made a tremendous difference in everyone’s quality of life.
Poppy is now nearly 6 months old and her parents are very much enjoying settling into their home as a family of 3 at long last. Shana is currently working through the cumulative trauma and complicated emotions around Poppy’s journey. Despite the challenges, Poppy wakes up every morning with the biggest smile on her face and is a stunning example of resilience and strength.
Shana Silverstein Bio
Shana lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband, Doug, their six month old daughter, Poppy Chaya, and their first baby, Marcel the Poodle. She is on the precipice of receiving her doctorate in neuroscience from University College London and the National Institutes of Health. Her research focuses on social learning and memory around empathy related behaviors. Shana is also a certified yoga teacher. Connect with her by email at email@example.com.
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Hillary got pregnant quickly after waiting two years to conceive to get her autoimmune disorder under control and develop a plan for managing the disorder while pregnant. At her 20 week anatomy scan, she learned her baby had a single umbilical cord artery.
With the pandemic underway in her second trimester, she learned at her 34 week check up that her baby girl was breech. After attempting Spinning Babies and chiropractic care to help the baby flip, she did an ECV at 37 weeks that was unsuccessful. She began planning for a surgical birth to be scheduled at 39 weeks, but her water broke a few days after the EVC.
With her doula on the phone as she and her husband Mike drove to the hospital, Hillary looked forward to the most positive birth she could. She and her husband played music, a nurse took photos, and she had a clear drape to allow her to see the baby coming out, and be placed on her chest. The baby needed phototherapy for jaundice the next day, but other than that, was totally healthy.
The biggest challenge back at home (besides sleeping!) was nursing; after 2.5 weeks and a consult with an amazing IBCLC lactation consultant, she weaned. At about 8 weeks postpartum, Hillary got very sick and went to the ER; she was admitted for several days because of gallstones and pancreatitis, and had surgery to remove her gallbladder. Then, about 6 weeks later, she was back in the ER: she had retained stones following gallbladder removal, a rare complication. After another multi-day hospitalization, she made it back home and has been snuggling her baby and her husband ever since.
Hillary Dixler Canavan Bio
Hillary Dixler Canavan lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mike and baby Claire. She works in food media, and you can find her on Instagram, @hillarydixlercanavan — she shares photos of food and her baby, and her DM’s are open.
After an uncomplicated, swift, birth center birth with her first son in 2018, Lauren was caught off guard when her second son was still breech at 36 weeks. In an attempt to “flip” her son, Lauren tried an array of techniques before finally having an unsuccessful (and painful) ECV at 38 weeks.
Frustrated with the streamlined approach that breech meant automatic c-section, Lauren began educating herself on her birthing options. With the support of her husband, Lauren decided she was comfortable attempting a vaginal breech birth; however, finding a supportive provider proved to be more difficult. After a tumultuous ending to her otherwise straightforward pregnancy, Lauren successfully birthed her son vaginally at a local hospital.
Lauren Ruth Bio
Lauren is the proud mother of 2 boys Bodhi (2) and Jameson (newborn). A Texas transplant, Lauren now lives with her husband of 10+ years, Casey, and their boys in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Lauren is an avid athlete and travel enthusiast who is always looking for her next challenge. You can contact Lauren on Facebook or Instagram at @roreneroo.
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Gwenyth was born on June 8, 2020, at 7:35am via cesarean at 39+1 weeks due to being breech. Megan’s pregnancy went relatively smoothly, except for mild nausea in the first trimester and headaches in the 2nd trimester. Then at week 32, Megan was diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which raised concerns that baby was still breech.
The COVID-19 pandemic also hit right at start of third trimester. Megan had been working throughout her pregnancy but stopped at the start of her third trimester due to her family’s expected move (which was postponed due to COVID). She began having weekly doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds and non-stress tests at this point and was put on blood pressure medication.
Megan tried spinning babies, ECV, chiropractic care (The Webster Method), moxibustin, ice, music, yoga, etc. to get baby to flip but she stayed breech so a cesarean birth was scheduled at 39 weeks, 1 day. Megan was initially hugely disappointed about having a cesarean birth because she had prepared and really been looking forward to an unmedicated birth. She was also initially angry that a breech vaginal delivery wasn’t common in U.S. She had heard of providers (such as Dr. Stu) who performed vaginal breech home births, but her provider wasn’t comfortable with a vaginal breech delivery and she decided that at the end of the day she wanted to do what was considered safest in Colorado.
Megan’s cesarean birth was a really positive experience, with no complications, aside from baby needing a little extra help breathing initially. Recovery overall went well; they were in the hospital for 3 days postpartum. Everyone was super helpful at the hospital, with the exception of one of the pediatricians who was a bit of an alarmist about baby’s initial weight loss. Megan’s blood pressure was pretty well managed throughout pregnancy, then skyrocketed postpartum, then went back to normal around 3 weeks postpartum. Postpartum has been exhausting, but wonderful.
Megan Johnson Bio
Megan lives in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband, 7-week-old baby girl and 2 Boston Terriers. She is from California and moved to CO in 2018 for husband’s work. She is a mental health therapist and is currently staying home with baby and is finishing a doctorate degree in psychology. Connect with her on Instagram @meganrose87.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Britax Child Safety, Inc. For over 50 years, Britax has been focused on safety you can trust from the very first day. They welcome new moms and dads to parenthood with award-winning car seats and strollers for every lifestyle while providing extra confidence for the journey ahead. At the end of today’s episode, I talk with Britax safety advocate, Sarah Tilton, all about traveling safely with a newborn. Learn more about Britax products and safety tips at us.britax.com.
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Gabey’s relatively easy pregnancy with her first child hit some trouble when the baby stubbornly stayed in breech position. An external cephalic version at 37 weeks was very intense but luckily successful on the third try. Their daughter Inez came a week early, and labor was fast – about 8 hours start to finish. As a first timer, Gabey was in denial about her labor progression until the very end, which is why her baby was born right into the hospital toilet – unattended except for her husband! Gabey’s second child, a boy, was even faster. She managed to give birth on the hospital bed that time.
Gabrielle lives in Washington DC with her husband Luke, daughter Inez (3) and son Eamonn (6 months). Gabey works at the FDA on drug quality issues, and Luke is at the State Department. Outside of work Gabey loves to garden, cook, and make art. Her biggest struggle is making time for all the things she wants to do juggling work and two small kids. She loves the birth hour podcast and binge listened before both of her births.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Britax Child Safety, Inc. For over 50 years, Britax has been focused on safety you can trust from the very first day. They welcome new moms and dads to parenthood with award-winning car seats and strollers for every lifestyle while providing extra confidence for the journey ahead. At the end of today’s episode, I spoke with Britax safety advocate, Sarah Tilton, all about Preparing for the First Ride Home. Learn more about Britax products and safety tips at us.britax.com.
To listen to this episode, and more than 350 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!
Gestational thrombocytopenia and External cephalic version (ECV) for Breech Baby
Kate and Andy live in Portland, Oregon, and were delighted to become parents after meeting in college. They were in no rush, after being together nearly 13 years before the birth of their daughter, Caroline, but were thrilled when their pregnancy-journey began so swiftly. Both recognized that is often not the case and felt so grateful because of this! Kate knew she wanted to prepare for an unmedicated birth. She felt good and remained super active throughout her pregnancy. However, at 34 weeks, her pregnancy took a turn when Kate learned her baby was in the breech position. On top of this, Kate had developed gestational thrombocytopenia, which can cause a greater risk of postpartum hemorrhage. With the pending arrival of their breech baby, Kate was fearful this would mean she would have to be put under and have a c-section to deliver. At week 37, in an effort to preserve her wish to have an unmedicated birth, Kate and Andy made the decision to undergo an external cephalic version (ECV) to turn their breech baby and were thrilled when it was successful.
Kate’s labor began just shy of 39 weeks, and after a fast journey to transition, Kate stalled at 9 cm for several hours because the baby was posterior. In the end, Kate was proud of her dedication to an unmedicated birth, the preparation she did to be successful, and the choices she made to get to that point. Even so, Kate suffered from a retained placenta that was not discovered until 5 weeks postpartum. She describes the pain and symptoms to watch for so you can advocate for yourself during the postpartum period.
Kate Baldwin Bio
Kate is a fundraising professional, working in education in Portland, Oregon. Her husband, Andy, is in product/marketing for Nike, and together they love raising their daughter, Caroline, in such a beautiful state. Kate has become passionate about pregnancy and birth, and she acknowledges that her seemingly “perfect pregnancy” looked different once finding out her daughter was breech. Kate is passionate about telling her story because other breech stories helped empower her. You can connect with Kate on Instagram.
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