Dexter and the Extended Breech Saga – time to take on the NHS

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For those who know me, they’ll know my pregnancy had its complications. As with all babies, Dex began his little life up high in the safety of my uterus. Unlike most other babies, throughout the duration of my later pregnancy he got quite comfy in there and didn’t fancy the traditional nose dive required for a safe birth. As we’re all aware, we duly have our scans at 12 and 20 weeks and put our trust in our midwives to inform us when our babies have taken this fateful plunge. So what if they get it wrong?

The truth is that we knew Dexter hadn’t turned. I hadn’t had that ‘moment’ that most women have when they feel baby plummet (a.k.a lightening). I’d also had a 3D scan at 32 weeks that clearly showed baby up high in a pike position that Tom Daley would be proud of. This, despite the fact I’d had reassurances from my midwife weeks earlier that baby was head-down. I even remember laying on the table in the Children’s Centre with my top pulled up high, jeans down, and Craigy watching on – I recall at that moment saying I was worried about Dexter’s positioning – but I was laughed at and told baby was fine. He wasn’t.

A routine doctor’s appointment at 34 weeks confirmed this. 34 weeks! The doctor couldn’t be 100% sure that the lump she felt above my pelvis was head or bum so did the right thing and referred me to the hospital for a scan. 1 week later, at 35 weeks, we finally had our fears confirmed and a highly emotional mummy felt bitter. Bitter. Dex was actually in an extended breech position and I believe he had been the entire time.

We were immediately offered a C-section or the opportunity to have a massage to turn baby around (ECV). The nurse at the hospital was a little hurried that day and we felt rushed into making a decision – she seemed to be signing to us to have the massage so we opted for ECV. Craig and I sat in bed that evening looking at the leaflets wondering if we’d made the right decision. We just had never considered a C-section and were looking forward to a water birth – this seemed the only choice. But the leaflets were full of stats and warnings and I remember sleeping fitfully that night wondering if I should put my baby through the trauma of being prodded and pulled so late into the pregnancy. Our appointment was at 37 weeks and I worried Dexter would be too big and the act of tugging at him would result in a C section anyway – turns out I was right.

The ECV was declared as successful by the consultant. I’d sampled the gas and air as baby was manipulated round by his bottom inside of me. I remembered being utterly thrilled and posting on Facebook about how proud of baby I was. The odds had been stacked against us but my baby played ball. The water birth was still on and I’d be able to carry full term and make the best of those precious weeks of pre labour maternity leave. In reality I had just 1 day of mat leave before Dexter was delivered.

Less than a week after the procedure, my placenta abrupted and I went through the horror of bleeding-out in my living room . I wasn’t to know that most mothers will go on to successfully deliver. I thought I’d lost my baby. That ride to the hospital in the ambulance was the worst I’d ever had. I couldn’t understand why the ambulance didn’t have the equipment to check baby’s heartbeat, I was scared to death and Craig was 1 car behind us unable to ride with me. Just 6 hours later, after being initially told I would be discharged, the bleeding was severe enough to order an immediate emergency c section – Dexter arrived the very next morning.

I’m not reliving all this to complain about the NHS, apportion blame with the midwives, doctors or consultants, or feel sorry for myself. The beautiful truth is that Dexter is here and he’s safe and happy. My issue is that there’s now an outstanding problem resulting from him spending 38 weeks with his little feet and legs stretched out in front of him. He grew like this inside of me. His bones fused together in that position. He never got a opportunity to flex and twist and kick and stretch like normal babies. Back then, to our mind, we’d be lucky to escape with no consequences. We haven’t been lucky.

The midwife discharged me from my C-section with a follow-up orthopedic appointment. This was to check his hips and was routine for babies who spent so long in the extended breech position. The happened on his 13 week birthday (yesterday) – again far too late in my opinion but we weren’t worried. Dexter has displayed no problem with his legs, knees or hips so we assumed everything was fine. The specialist was lovely and very gentle when performing her checks – she confirmed that everything was progressing well so we were hugely relieved and ready to put this mess behind us.

Just as we were about to leave, I mentioned casually that Dexter really favours his right hand side and would rather stare at a white wall on this side, than turn to face the opposite direction. It was said almost in jest as we were less than a foot away from her door ready to leave. Surely if that was something serious, and something that could have resulted from Dexter’s pre birth positioning, someone would have forewarned us. To us, Dexter would simply grow out of it, it was just one of those things. But yep – you’ve guessed it, it isn’t.

The doctor stopped us in our tracks and had another feel of Dexter. She watched us physically manipulate his head and Dexter cry in bewilderment and discomfort. She continued to be chatty and pleasant but has confirmed that this could be a result of the breech. Never-the-less she didn’t seem overly concerned. She’s ordered an x-ray and the appointment will be sent to us in the post. I hope that this letter will arrive tomorrow and the appointment will be within the next week. In truth, I suspect my ever-the-optimist approach is about to be tested once again as it’ll be for a date in the faraway future and we’ll sit here worrying for another few months.

We’re left feeling a little anxious and confused. Surely Dex doesn’t deserve all this. He’s been through so much already and I just want to move on knowing he’s okay. We’re beginning to worry that Dexter might have a permanent crooked neck, maybe even a spinal problem… we’re playing amateur doctors and nurses with our own child and we’re scared.

For now, we’ve been told to manipulate his head regularly and place ‘temptation’ (toys, the tv, and ourselves) to his left. It doesn’t appear to be working as Dexter’s head feels stiff when we move it. He’s a baby, OUR BABY and he’s precious and delicate. We don’t want to do more harm than good so we’re reluctant to force him. But what if we don’t? What then? Will just waiting and hoping, and messing about with rattles and the direction of his bouncer be enough to encourage the problem to work itself out naturally???

Having just walked in and found me upset, Craig and I have agreed to make a follow-up appointment with our GP. We simply can’t afford to ignore what our child is telling us. It’s this blissful ignorance that caused the problem in the first place so it’s time to toughen up.

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One response »

  1. Thank you so much for sharing – what a scary story and I’m so glad all actually went well in the end.

    I found out at a 32 week growth scan today that my boy is extented breech and have another scan in 2 weeks as well as a consultants appt. I’m high risk care anyway and have agreed if baby turns I’ll try a natural birth however I am not keen for them to try to turn baby and will opt for a c-section if he stays this way.

    I’m so glad I read this – thank you x

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