I'm taking a brief break from the Happiness Series to update you all on a little rejoicing that is going on in our house today.
This pregnancy has, in general, been pretty easy. Everything has seemed perfectly normal and I've had peace throughout the pregnancy. I have two other American missionary friends in the area, both of whom are pregnant, and, although they're expecting their third and second babies respectively, neither of them has given birth in Africa, so they have had some very understandable nerves. I have not had those same nerves. Of course I credit the Holy Spirit for the peace I've been feeling, and, on a very practical level, I am helped by the fact that "this ain't my first rodeo." I'd probably be feeling more nervous if I were in the States right now, because I wouldn't know what to expect. I have the kind of personality which, if I can envision some idea of what to expect, I feel pretty confident to deal with whatever comes, even if it's different from my expectation.
Our "birth plan" is the same as it was with Wesley. We're going up to Kijabe Hospital near Nairobi, Kenya, where we will park in the oh-so-familiar guest house and wait for the baby to start moving. The hospital is about 200 yards from the guest house, and we'll make arrangements to check into a private room there when labor starts. We will be traveling up with our house help, Adera, so that she can help us with Wesley and with cooking and all that stuff. Everything was lining up pretty much the same as it was before...until...
About ten days ago I went over to the hospital to have my friend, Yvonne, a Dutch OB/GYN do an ultrasound for me. A nurse friend had examined me manually a few days before and was of the opinion that the baby's head had advanced far down into my pelvis, which could mean the baby would come early. I decided to go see Yvonne and find out if we should, indeed, plan to go to Kenya early. I had also been increasingly uncomfortable, so I wanted to just be sure that this wasn't signs of the baby getting ready to come. She examined me and had a funny look on her face, then did an ultrasound to confirm her suspicion, which was indeed correct: it wasn't the baby's head sticking so far down, it was her buttocks, and I was so uncomfortable because her head was jammed up under my ribs. She was breech.
This was a bit of a blow. Every other ultrasound had shown the baby very properly head down, and at 37 weeks, it was very unusual for her to have turned herself all the way around like that. Also, my only fear regarding giving birth is that I might need a cesarean section, because having major surgery, even in a great hospital, carries risk, and in the States, a c-section is very highly recommended for a breech baby because of potential complications. In Holland, my doctor and her doctor husband assured me, mothers often deliver vaginally, it just carries more risk than a regular cephalic birth. I did a lot of research and reading testimonials and talking to a midwife friend to see if there was any exercises or procedures we could do to encourage the baby to turn back. The consensus was that it was too late. For her to be breech at 37 weeks meant the likelihood of anything being able to turn her back was highly unlikely. Through the research process, Fred grew increasingly nervous, even as I grew increasingly resigned that there was nothing to do but wait and pray. "It's just a different kind of normal," I repeated to him (and myself). We decided not to make the news public, because we didn't want other people worrying or pressuring us toward a c-section.
Fred left on Sunday for one last seminar before the baby is born. He gets back on Saturday, and we'll leave on Sunday the 2nd, one week away from my due date, for Kijabe. I told him I would get one more ultrasound so that we could really know how the baby was lying and be prepared, in case she had her feet down or one foot down or anything like that. I went in today, and Fred sent me this message on my way: "Say hi to Yvonne and ask her if she can do magics to turn the baby...am nervous." Yvonne and I laughed about her magical abilities as I climbed on the exam table. I told her I'd felt a lot more comfortable the past few days, and her face lightened as she felt my abdomen. She put the wand on my lower abdomen and beamed at me. I looked at the screen and saw...a head...most definitely the top of the baby's head! Against all odds, she has independently turned herself back around!
As unusual as it was for her to have turned around breech so late in the term, it's even more unusual that she turned herself back again, especially without any external "assistance," except from Wesley pouncing on her each morning. It's seriously an answer to prayer and at least a small miracle. We're delighted and relieved. I told Yvonne that this must have been the baby's way of making sure I hadn't taken this pregnancy too casually, by throwing in a little drama right at the end. That's a girl for you! Now we're just packing and doing last minute cleaning and praying that she keeps her head down and comes on time (not too early and please, please, please not as late as her brother was!).