My ECV Experience

Picking up from my last post in a much better state of mind than I was then, I’m happy to report that my breech baby is breech no more! We went ahead with the ECV on Saturday at my doctor’s advice and it was a great success – more than that, it was much better than I expected. I wanted to write a post about my experience since I so enjoyed reading these type of posts when I was making up my mind about the procedure.

So, as I wrote in my previous post our cheeky third baby flipped to breech at around 28 weeks (she had been head down at my previous appointments) and did. not. budge! Her head was firmly lodged right under my ribs so she was constantly reminding me of her breech status. I initially was really against getting an ECV at all because of the (minor) risks to baby and thought I would rather have a c-section and take the greater risks on myself instead of baby.

The main reason I decided to try the ECV was because of my OB. She is a really experienced and respected OB in Hong Kong and pretty much everyone you meet has had a baby delivered by her. She was really for the ECV and said that she wouldn’t even attempt if she thought it was risky – she said mine was a 5/10 in terms of difficulty and she would never attempt more than an 8. She also ordered every possible scan and test to put my mind at ease. I had an ultrasound on Wednesday with a sonographer to determine exact fluid levels, blood flow and cord position (I was terrified of the cord being around her neck) and had another appointment with my OB on Friday just to go through everything again. I have to say her bedside manner leaves something to be desired (I’m slightly terrified of her!) but when it came to this I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else.

SO the ECV was scheduled for 10.30am and we had to arrive at 8.30am to check in and get prepped. Since we had never actually been to the hospital (The Matilda on The Peak) this was quite good for us anyway as we’d been meaning to do a trial run. It took us about 25 minutes from Stanley which is about how long the hospital run took with the older two kids back in Sydney. Relief! You may have read before about my paranoia of giving birth in a taxi…

We arrived and checked in and then were taken to a delivery room in the maternity unit. This was quite a full on experience for me – we walked past the nursery and I burst into tears. Seeing the light machine in the delivery suite brought Walt’s birth flooding back. It really hit me that this is happening, which I think was really needed. I’ve been so busy with the other two kids and really focusing on the “breech baby/c-section” thing so much that I haven’t given much thought to the fact that we’re having a real live baby. Now I feel more like I did in the lead up to the other births, more relaxed and ready.

Once I’d changed into a gown the (lovely) midwife took me through a lot of consent forms and talked me through the risks of the procedure. The other quite intense thing about the experience is that you need to be completely prepped for an emergency c-section as there is a risk of baby going into distress during an ECV (from the research I’ve done the risk is about 5%, but as my OB said that really varies depending on your doctor and their approach). So you need to fast (I couldn’t sleep and ate a bowl of cereal at 4am, pre-food cutoff!) and shave and be properly admitted. It’s a good idea to get your head around this possibility prior to the procedure. I don’t think I really did. As the clock ticked down to 10.30 I started really freaking out about the c-section again and had to do some little meditation exercises.

At 10am the midwife gave me the first dose of the terbutaline syrup, the drug they use to relax the uterus – actually this is the same stuff that’s in a ventolin inhaler, which incidentally I have used hundreds of times before as an asthmatic! So I was needlessly worried about this (although it does make your heart race really fast – more on that later). My pulse increased a little but by the time my OB arrived at just after 10.30 she could still feel a lot of tightening so I got a second dose. About 15 minutes later I could actually feel how relaxed my muscles were, so I knew it would be good to go.

My OB came back and was straight into it. She gave me no warning (as I said, bedside manner) and had a student with her so basically just said “Put your hands over my hands so you can feel the pressure I’m applying” and then went for it. And may I say, significant pressure was applied! Baby’s bottom was engaged in my pelvis (I’m sure she was fully prepared to come out that way, but I was not so keen) so she used her thumb and forefinger to forcefully push that out first. Deep breathing was very useful! I then got a contraction so had to lay there like that for about a minute until that stopped. Incidentally I don’t think anything is kicking off in that regard, just that playing around with the baby like that can cause the uterus to contract.

Next came the really painful bit – she had to use her other hand to force the baby’s head out from my rib cage and slowly push it around. I think this was just painful because it’s a more sensitive area of the body, and also maybe because her head has been squished into my stomach for so long. I’m not sure but again I had to use my breathing. The OB continued to slowly edge the head along while holding the buttocks up and within about two minutes, she flipped! I was amazed as it was so quick and I really hadn’t been sure it would work. My OB seemed quite pleased with herself and was talking about her great success rate this year, and spirits were high.

I immediately felt so much more prepared for what lies ahead. I also felt a HUGE relief from my stomach/rib cage area and a little more pressure down below. Funnily enough the shape of my “bump” has also changed completely, as the head is obviously lower down in the pelvis the bump looks smaller and less out in front. It looks a lot like when I was pregnant with Heike, more like that typical “girl” bump everyone speaks of.

After my OB left I had to stay hooked up to the CTG for a further hour to monitor baby. She was fine (she is such an active baby!) and we were able to leave fairly quickly. The one thing that sucked was that the drug did not wear off for hours – I was really shaky and headachey all through the afternoon and pretty much just took to bed. I know I am really sensitive to medications (hence why I have always wanted natural births, I can’t even take strong painkillers) and was already wary of the drug so it didn’t surprise me that after two doses it took its time wearing off. From what I’ve read online, a lot of women have this experience.

Yesterday, Sunday, I woke up feeling fine if a little bruised and in a much better mental state than I have in weeks. I can’t explain why I was feeling so down about baby being breech but I just was. I think mostly just nerves and I hate uncertainty. Anyway, I had to go into the hospital again to have another CTG just to keep an eye on baby, and she was fine. Kicking madly the entire time. The midwife did suggest that since she is so active and the head is not engaged I should be careful she doesn’t flip again! We discussed lots of walking etc and already today she feels lower.

I’m about to head in for my third day of monitoring, which is really just a precaution and frankly I’m so glad my OB takes it. I am enough of a worrier as it is! It is very comforting to sit and listen to baby’s heartbeat for an hour.

Anyway, I would highly recommend trying an ECV to anyone who is faced with the decision – because I know from experience it does feel like a big one and many women choose not to go ahead with it for various reasons. As for me from now, I guess we’re into the spicy food/sex/long walks phase of the pregnancy, although since I have the energy for none of that we could be in for quite a wait!

Z x

 

 

The Stubborn Third Child (And My Anxiety)

I remember reading once that the first child is for the mother, the second for the father and the third is the child you deserve. Ha! Something like that. It always makes me think of the many gorgeous, cheeky third children I know – my sister being the prime example. I personally always wanted three children so I guess that’s why that saying has stuck with me. My mother in law also told me once that the third child is always the one to bring a truly different element into the family.

As for my third child, she seems to be living up to these expectations. At around the 28 week mark I learnt she had flipped from head down to head up (breech) and there she has remained ever since. She seemingly taunts me with her apparent comfort, continually pushing up with her feet and digging her hard little head under my ribs. Just so I know she’s still there and, you know, still breech!

At this point I would like NO advice on how to get her to turn, nor anecdotes about other babies who have magically turned at this point, because I have heard them all. Everyone is so well meaning and of course at first I was very eager to hear these stories and theories but we’re coming to the end and it’s starting to mean I have to make some actual decisions rather than doing handstands in the pool or perching on all fours watching TV. I know people are being encouraging but at this stage (36 weeks 5 days) it feels dismissive in a way rather than helpful.

The worst thing about the situation is that I have become completely obsessed, thinking about almost nothing else and unable to just relax and enjoy the time I have left with the older two. I’m alert to every movement of the baby, stressed about whether I should get an ECV (External Cephalic Version) and constantly looking up breech c-section stories online.

Currently we are booked to have the ECV on Saturday, but I’m still not 100% sure we’re going ahead with it. Basically it’s a procedure where the OB turns the baby manually using their hands – it’s reasonably common and fairly low risk, although there is only a 50% success rate. Further to that, there are risks, the biggest being that the baby will go into distress and need to be delivered via emergency c-section. I don’t mind about how she arrives in the world to be honest but would rather not put her under any stress, particularly with a 50% success rate (though I have been given a 60% chance due to it being my third baby and having, you know, a used up stretched uterus!).

Also stressing me out slightly is the fact that I have a heart condition and I have stupidly read online that the drug they give you for the procedure can cause irregular heart rhythms (which I already have), but I need to talk that through with my OB tomorrow. I also need to stop googling things!

On the other side of the coin there is the whole C-section possibility, which I just never would have considered as a possibility for myself going into this pregnancy. But there you go – that third child. Actually from a larger, theoretical perspective I could not care less how baby gets here, as long as she gets here healthy. Doing this third time around I know that none of that stuff really matters long term. I am just being an absolute wimp from a practical point of view; I’ve never had any kind of surgery, I’ve had two babies with only a bit of gas, I still hate needles like a 5 year old (and needles in the spine!?). But I’ve realised for baby’s sake I just need to toughen up and do it if I have to. I can do this!

Finally, it’s the uncertainty getting me down. I just don’t know what is going to happen, and for someone who plans and plans and plans it’s difficult. But maybe that’s what the universe, and this beautiful third baby, are telling me – I can’t always have control, and that’s okay. I need to surrender to that and accept that. While I’m not always completely tapped in to that spiritual side of me I do completely believe it’s there and it’s important and I really need to embrace it right now.

SO that’s my plan – breathe deeply, accept the unknown. Be fine with any outcome. And leave all major decisions up to my OB from this point on, because what the hell else am I paying her for?! Special thanks to J for that last piece of advice, it is actually so helpful just to remove any decisions from my own hands.

Wish me luck, and peace!

Z x

Kids’ Art Books

I’ve written before about how I tried to be a ballet Mum and failed miserably. Not only was Heike not remotely interested (she would happily spend hours making up dance moves by herself but first, second, third position? Not so much), I am just not cut out for the costumes/hairstyles/rehearsals. As soon as I found out the four year olds would have to wear make up and I would have to give up three Saturday mornings for photo shoots and dress rehearsals I had one foot out the door. Thankfully Heiks was only too happy to follow.

Still I constantly lamented that she didn’t have an extra curricular activity that she was passionate about. I mean, I am completely lazy so running kids to activities isn’t exactly my favourite thing anyway, but I wanted her to have an interest and to make friends outside of school. That’s why it has been so amazing watching her love for art blossom.

She started getting into drawing late last year, which was actually due to her Mandarin teacher. He really focused on her pencil grip and showed her a few techniques for drawing simple things like flowers and trees. She became obsessed with drawing “roses” which were essentially just green lines with furious red circles on top but that was the beginning. When we moved to Stanley my first priority was to get her into some art classes, and we started not long after at The Studio which I have written about before.

Since then the art obsession has pretty much taken over our house. EVERY morning the pencils and paper are out, and more often than not we are stressing out trying to get out the door while Heike asks for “just one more piece of paper”. With the help of her art teacher and little bits of advice from her Dad and I (her Dad is actually much better at sitting down and getting properly involved) she has become quite a talented drawer, I think, for a four year old anyway!

The not-so-great side effect of this is the paper. Everywhere. On even the most unexpected of surfaces (bathroom cabinet, baby’s nursery, kitchen floor) I am constantly finding drawings – landscapes, butterflies, friends and family, robots, even (concerningly) guns. I never have the heart to throw them out, and so have just been putting them in an ever growing pile thinking I will stick them somewhere or use them as wrapping paper.

Last week I finally got fed up and decided to take action. I spent about an hour going through all the drawings and deciding what was actually worth remembering (do I need to keep a picture she drew of a banana? Probably not…) and then photographing everything.

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I recently downloaded the Print Studio app on my shiny new iPhone, and ordered some prints from there that I was really happy with. They came printed on nice thick paper and for Instagram photos, were really good quality. While there are lots of apps for storing and printing childrens’ art photos, I thought this was just as good an option as the art books are affordable ($15US for a softcover with 38 photos), are delivered promptly and I knew the quality was good.

It also suited me as it could be done completely from my phone – I’m such a technophobe and hate effort so the easier the better.

Ultimately this is just one of those organisational things you NEVER feel like doing, but was actually quite enjoyable and I feel so good every time I look at the empty space where the pile of artworks used to be. I’ve moved the better drawings into the wrapping paper cupboard (don’t get me started on my obsession with wrapping paper) and have sworn there is a 3 month expiry period on these! Let’s see how I go.

How about you – kicked any organisational goals lately?!

Z

 

Bunny’s Nursery: Part One

Despite being about 100 years (okay, 34 weeks 4 days but who’s counting?!) pregnant with baby number three, I’ve never actually decorated a nursery before. When I was pregnant with Heike I was just getting by on my salary as a part-time nanny/part-time copywriter, and my nursery decoration consisted of some gender neutral wall stickers, a change table and a cot. Then we moved when she was three months old and made a bit more effort with her bedroom, but nothing too involved.

Still it was buying our first house that saw my interest in interiors and styling take off, and I gradually did make a few improvements. When Walt was born he shared a room with us for most of his first year, and briefly shared with his sister before we up and moved to Hong Kong.

We plan to stay in this apartment for some time, and when we moved in I decided this was probably going to be my first and final time to create a proper nursery. Thus began the process of decorating baby Bunny’s room!

There were a few things that HAD to fit in the room – a chest of drawers we had made for Heike’s room back in Australia that had no home here, the IKEA cot that has been used for all my babies, and a grey sofa bed for visitors/Mums who end up sleeping in the nursery every night. They were all fairly neutral which gave me the scope to go wherever I wanted.

What has really shaped this room is the absolutely beautiful wallpaper by Mrs Mighetto that I bought online from Australian site Jimmy Cricket. Get a load of it will you?! This room sits at the end of our hallway and two weeks after having the wallpaper hung my heart still flutters at the site of it. The paper is quite feminine which works well if we decide to swap baby and Heike at some point once she is sleeping through and Heiks needs her own space.

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I have always loved picture ledges used for displaying books, and I picked up these from IKEA – they’re actually not the nicest ones IKEA do but the nearest they stock in Hong Kong. I then hopped online and bought some gorgeous books all purely for the cover, which is so not me (reading is my one true passion, although I do believe books should look beautiful too!) but I can happily report all the books are great. The “Paris” book is so delicate and beautiful – definitely not for baby and toddler hands!

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The little rabbit is from Mirth which I’ve raved about before.

I wrote about my Lila x Lola prints (pictured up top) here and got them framed in Stanley at Cottage Framers in the market. I was actually really disappointed with the framing at first (I was teary, it wasn’t a proud moment!) but can happily report she fixed it the same day and now they look great.

With the sofa bed in here we didn’t really have space, and I ended up finding this super cute change basket while mucking around on Instagram – it’s by OlliElla (check out all their stuff, very cute) and I bought it online from UK site This Modern Life – I had to pay an extra 15 pounds for shipping due to the size but I think it was worth it, especially given the mark up of everything in Hong Kong and what a change table would’ve ultimately cost. It sits perfectly on our chest of drawers and the top drawer has space for nappies, wipes, creams etc.

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It’s still a bit of a work in progress (I have a whole other corner I’m working on, and it just needs more zhushing) but I am really happy with how it’s coming along. It’s been an interesting process for me in terms of starting with a blank canvas and creating a room that isn’t only styled nicely but makes sense spatially – my spatial awareness is terrible so I’m constantly learning!

I’ve said it many times before but I truly believe it pays to spend time making your home a beautiful space where you want to spend time. We spend so much time in our homes (especially the stay at home or work from home Mums) that it’s worth taking pride in them, and that can be done inexpensively. I am seriously considering taking naps in this nursery once it’s finished, it just feels so nice in there!

Speaking of naps…well I’d love to take one but a certain 4 (AND THREE QUARTERS don’t forget it!) year old wants to recount the entire Pocahontas movie to me verbatim.

Z