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On today’s podcast, we will be talking with EBB Childbirth Class parents, Janae and Andrew Rick, as they share their unique birth story about their vaginal breech birth. 

Janae is a senior graphic designer for a makeup company. Andrew is in the restaurant industry working as a bar back and bartender in Minneapolis. After recently buying their first home at St. Paul Park in October of 2020, they gave birth to their first baby, a boy named Jenoa, in January 2021, who arrived exactly on his due date. Janae and Andrew are graduates of the Evidenced Based Birth® Childbirth Class with instructors, Heather Christine Struwe and Rhonda Fellows. 

We talk about their experience with learning about their options of having a vaginal breech birth. We also talk about their unique birthing story and having amazing support during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Resources

Learn more about Heather Cristine Struwe here (https://holisticcontinuum.com/). Follow Heather Christine on Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/hc.heatherchristine). 

Learn about Rhonda Fellows via Oily Doula MN here (https://www.oilydoulamn.com/) and follow Oily Doula MN on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/oilydoulamn/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/oilydoulamn/).

Learn more about Dr. Rixa Freeze, Dr. David Hayes, and Breech Without Borders here (https://www.breechwithoutborders.org/). 

Learn more about External Cephalic Version (ECV) here (https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw180146#:~:text=External%20cephalic%20version%2C%20or%20version,to%20try%20a%20vaginal%20birth). 

Learn more about Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) here (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15342835/). 

Transcript

Rebecca Dekker:

Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Janae and Andrew Rick about their breech vaginal birth story. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker, and I’m a nurse with my Ph.D. and the Founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details. 

Today I am so excited to welcome Janae and Andrew Rick to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. Janae is a Senior Graphic Designer for a makeup company, and in her spare time she loves painting and doing art projects. Andrew is in the restaurant industry working as a bar back and bartender in Minneapolis. Andrew buys and resells sneakers and exclusive name-brand clothing on the side as a hobby. They recently bought their first home in St. Paul Park in October of 2020, then gave birth to their first baby, a boy named Jenoa, in January 2021, and he arrived on his due date. Janae and Andrew are graduates of the Evidenced Based Birth® Childbirth Class with Instructors Heather Christine Struwe and Rhonda Fellows, and are here to share their very unique birth story about their vaginal breech birth. Welcome, Janae and Andrew, to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcasts. 

Janae Rick:

Oh, thanks for having us. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So, tell us, how you found out about the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class and got connected with Heather Christine and Rhonda. 

Janae Rick:

So we ended up hiring a doula who recommended the class to us, and I had known her a little while and she just came across like she had been in it before, and she just suggested it to us. So we looked into it and it sounded perfect, and we wanted to take some kind of birth class that this is awesome because it ended up covering so many topics for us, so it was the best decision. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So this was your first baby?

Janae Rick:

It is. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. And Andrew, what about you? What were your thoughts going into it, hiring a doula, taking a childbirth class? Was that something you were interested in doing as well or were you just not sure what your role was?

Andrew Rick:

I was completely game for all of it. Me personally, more knowledge is better. I learned a lot from the class and the doula but it definitely is not like the Hollywood movies make it out to be, I’ll tell you that much. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t change anything about that. The knowledge that I took from that is fascinating to the fact that the percentages, this, that. It’s just mind blowing. So yes, I was all for it. 

Rebecca Dekker:

That’s awesome. More knowledge is better, I love that. 

Janae Rick:

Thinking about taking some kind of class and I had been doing research for years, wanting to plan having a baby and he was like, “We need to take a class in this.” There’s so many options out there but this covers nearly everything-

Andrew Rick:

Everything, yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

So what was your experience like taking the class then with Rhonda and Heather Christine?

Janae Rick:

It was awesome. There was a lot of information crammed in but it was nice, there was a nice group of people. It wasn’t huge, anonymous COVID just doing it on Zoom, it worked well just to meet every week it was and having conversations and hearing about other people’s pregnancies and things too. It was nice to just have conversations with them and ask questions and they were open. After the class is done too to follow up if we had things we wanted to talk about and stuff. When I was done I immediately started recommending it to coworkers and other people like, “You guys need to check this out.” 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. It will be interesting… Not interesting, but it would have been nice to have the full experience. I know COVID is taking a toll on everybody and everything, that was the one thing about the class that for me at least it was kind of crammed so I felt a little overwhelmed at the end of the week because it was like okay, we’ve got this much homework. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Were you taking the accelerated class?

Andrew Rick:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. So this is an experience, there was a lot of information really fast.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So normally people complete it in about six weeks but you probably completed it in four or less?

Andrew Rick:

Four, yeah. And don’t get me wrong, even the guidance from the instructors, they gave us all the keys. All the keys and information, and then they also gave us all the information for if we want to go do some research ourselves in the platform. So that was nice. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you were taking the class with Heather Christine and Rhonda and the other parents and what kind of birth were you planning at that point when you were taking them?

Janae Rick:

From the beginning I wanted to try for a natural birth and learning throughout the class just more about cesareans, I was kind of, it made me realize that was the last thing that I wanted unless we absolutely needed to. So just learning about our options and what we could do for pain relief and all these different things, so I was really aiming to go for a natural birth but I was open to anything, being flexible with whatever would happen because you never know. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And were you planning a hospital birth then?

Janae Rick:

Yeah, yeah. We were planning a hospital birth and I wanted to see midwives my whole pregnancy which I did, up until the end I guess. Just because just learning so much about the difference between midwives and OB doctors. I thought a birth center would be cool but for us it was like just want to be at a hospital to be extra safe with our first baby.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And so when did you discover that?

Janae Rick:

We found out at 35 and a half weeks and we were at a regular appointment and they feel on your belly, and we had been seeing different midwives because we didn’t know who we would have when I went into labor so it was very surprising, it was definitely overwhelming because I was kind of in disbelief and then she ended up getting us into an ultrasound technology to confirm that he was breech and I was just, oh my God, my mind was racing. What? How do we figure this out? Later I found out that that’s when they start to check, around that time. So it was a lot. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And Andrew, were you allowed in the prenatal appointments at this time? Because this is all during COVID, so could you go with her?

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, yeah. Fortunately we were able to. We were catching those waves where they were going up and down being like, “Okay, your partner can be in, your partner can’t be in,” and we were always catching the wave of I could be in so that was a blessing because in the very beginning, when we were first going to our appointments, I did have to sit outside. That was in the very beginning and I would sit outside. It was seeing a group of individuals in separate cars waiting for their partners going for their checkups and everything. I was just like wow, this is crazy. That was just a lot to take in and we were bummed out going into the process. This isn’t what we wanted, but we were very fortunate because we were just catching those waves.

Rebecca Dekker:

So you were together when they told you that baby was breech?

Andrew Rick:

Yeah.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. And had there have been an appointment where he wasn’t in, he was there and I was so overwhelmed with thank goodness because I need some water. It was just a lot. 

Andrew Rick:

I was deer in a headlights. When they said breech, I knew about breech, but for some reason when they said it I was completely thrown off. What is breech again? What’s going on? What’s happening?

Rebecca Dekker:

It was shocking. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, very. Very. Very shocking. 

Janae Rick:

I felt like I was tricked, what I thought I was feeling his butt has actually been his head. 

Rebecca Dekker:

He tricked you.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And did you have any other thoughts and feelings aside from just being really surprised?

Janae Rick:

I was like okay, what are we going to do? And then after that we reached out to our doula and then after talking with her I felt a little bit better, and then that led us into our new birth plan, I guess.

Andrew Rick:

It was a little bit to take it, just because we have a plan already set up in your mind, in your head, of how you want to go about this and then you get thrown this curveball. Okay, game changer. We got to switch it up. That was a little overwhelming for me at least just because it was like okay, we have enough time. I kept telling myself we have enough time but at the same time it’s not a lot of time because he’s almost here. For me at least it was a little overwhelming but talking with the doula actually put me at ease, and then actually looking at more information and actually digging deep and finding out you can do this and there’s options. It actually helped out a lot. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So what was the first thing you did then after he was confirmed breech? Did you try to do different things to make room for him to turn?

Janae Rick:

We did, yeah. People in the birth world, at least in the Twin Cities, they all know each other so our doula was a great resource, and then she referred us to go see a chiropractor who is certified in the Webster technique, so I started doing that, and I started to get some lower back pain around that time too so it was a good decision. And she had used spinning babies before and recommended that. I heard of that, so then we started that whole process. So there’s all these exercises you do with spinning babies, we started doing that every day, and I went for an appointment to go see a bodywork specialist that has worked with mothers who have breech babies before.

I went there and that was great and she gave me a moxa stick. And then we started doing moxibustion at home, she was like, “Anybody can do it,” she showed us. Andrew jumped on board, he was really enthusiastic about everything. There were times when I was like, “Okay, we got to do all this.” He’s like, “Yeah, let’s go.” I’m like… Okay. When you have to do all those things every day to try to turn him and open up space, it was a lot. It was time-consuming but I was like he’s going to turn, we’re going to get him to turn around. And just having the, talking to baby and saying, “Hey, we need you to turn around.” Just trying to communicate with him too. Then after that, we ended up trying for an ECV procedure.

Andrew Rick:

Well actually, from our doula we heard about an OB that practices in doing ECV, doing-

Janae Rick:

We got a consultation. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, we got a consultation because they only proceed after a consultation to see if you’re fit for ECV and everything else.

Rebecca Dekker:

And for those of you who are listening, ECV stands for external cephalic version, sometimes called a breech version, where it’s a hands-on technique where they use their hands on your belly to turn the baby. It’s a medical procedure. So what did they say at that consultation?

Janae Rick:

So we went to go see an OB doctor for that, which was a first appointment for that because again I’d been seeing midwives. I went to go see an OB doctor and I want to point out too that she did not want, or they were not allowing partners at the appointments and I was like, “This is really serious, I need my husband here.” Phone calls and FaceTimes, the internet doesn’t work well all the time so I really had to put my foot down and advocate for myself like I need him to be here. And then she finally let him in. I think again, just the EBB class helped me, no listen. So he ended up being able to come in and the consultation honestly with that doctor did not go very well. She seemed to try to push cesarean on us and I explained that that’s not what I wanted and just her body language, she got… I don’t know. I felt like-

Andrew Rick:

Well, you remember, you were telling me, “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.” Just the position and the posture that she gave right after we said that we don’t want a cesarean. She sat up straight, crossed her arms, and gave us a frown face.

Rebecca Dekker:

She got all huffy kind of?

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, yeah. Definitely. It was one of those-

Janae Rick:

I was just like, oh okay. Why wouldn’t you want that? And I was like well, these are the reasons. I felt like she was pointing the finger at us. That’s just not… I don’t think that’s for me. Well, if there was an emergency… Oh, absolutely, then we would need to do that.

Andrew Rick:

I felt judgment being like okay, I get where you’re coming from, and yes, obviously worst-case scenario for anything, we’re going to do whatever it takes for the baby, but at the same time we also want to try to… There has to be other options, they don’t set it in stone like this is it and make us feel bad to the fact that we want to explore other options possibly. Or any kind of ideas of anything that could possibly change. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. So then we learned about the procedure itself, how they push on your stomach externally and try to rotate the baby. She said that there could be bruising and talking about different pain relief measures and there’s a chance that I would go into labor. Just finding out later that that’s very rare, all of those things. So we ended up leaving that appointment just not feeling very great about being supported.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. Then we also asked her too about her cesarean rate, the percentages and everything else. And the ECV. She said to us, “I don’t know any of that, there’s no…” I was like, haven’t you done this? You have had success and not successful attempts. You don’t have a percentage? No, no, no. Next thing you know, later on she mentioned that, Nae asked, “Would you be the one doing the cesarean? Because we would like to meet the OB that would be doing the cesarean if possible.”

Janae Rick:

Or even the procedure. 

Andrew Rick:

And again she was like, “No, no, won’t be me. I don’t do that.” Then she said again later, “Oh, I do, do that.” It was a weird experience. Not great, not pleasant, to where why did we even come here? 

Janae Rick:

I want the doctor who’s going to do the ECV procedure. She just couldn’t really answer all of our questions and the success rate, like I need to know. She was very vague about that kind of information so from there, that’s when we had a bigger conversation with our doula and then she referred us to go check out this doctor in Wisconsin who was known to do breech deliveries, who could do ECV procedures and cesareans. 

Andrew Rick:

It’s a one stop shop. 

Rebecca Dekker:

It’s so funny, going back to that bad appointment with the OB who was judgemental and basically didn’t tell you the truth or didn’t know their statistics. I was just texting with my sister the other day who’s a doctor and she was like, “No offense, but sometimes I want to take these doctors and say I know this is not how you were taught in medical school.” You’re totally not performing medicine the way you should be. All right, let’s go on. You got another opinion, which I think is so important, because a lot of people would go to an appointment like that, they would feel really disappointed, and they would say, “I guess all I can do is have a cesarean. There’s no other option.” And you on the other hand, you used your resources, you talked to your doula, and you found another doctor who could give another opinion. So tell us about that.

Janae Rick:

Yes. This can’t be it, we can’t settle. So she had actually worked with this doctor before so I looked into it and I found out that I was covered by insurance, because that was important to me, and we called about for the ECV consultation and they were like, “We just do it all together, you come in and if you’re a fit we can do it right there.” So that’s what we did and we packed our bags at the very slim chance that I would go into labor and we went there and met with him, asked all of our questions ahead of time and we were ready to go. So we tried for the ECV, the doctor attempted three times and our little baby didn’t want to turn. So his booty was moving but his head, he didn’t want to go. And the doctor was like, “Okay, I think that’s it,” he didn’t want to push it too far-

Rebecca Dekker:

Tell us a little more about the ECV experience itself then. First of all, what gave you the confidence in this doctor to go ahead with the procedure?

Janae Rick:

I think just him having that experience and being so well known around here. I had talked to our chiropractor, our doula, even the instructors from the EBB class knew of this doctor so it was like okay, this sounds like the person to go to. This birth world seems so small that everybody knows each other. It was definitely helpful.

Andrew Rick:

From everybody that we talked to just mentioned that they loved him. The vibes that we got just felt great, even before we met him and going out there, even going through the ECV process, it just felt like this was it. Even the insurance lady even knew who he was, that was surprising to me. She was like, “Oh yeah, we know who he…” I’m just like, oh jeez. 

Rebecca Dekker:

He’s got a reputation for helping people out. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. But it’s more so also the fact that it’s not necessarily just the fact that he does the ECV and he does the cesarean and he can also just do the regular birth. It was more so the feeling, the vibe that you get from him, and the place. You just feel like you’re in good hands. It’s not necessarily like an OB, it’s more like a midwife, it’s more like I’m here to execute your birth plan as best as we possibly can. I’m willing to listen, you know?

Janae Rick:

And we learned that this clinic or hospital runs their practice like a birth center and this is an OB doctor but he practices like a midwife, so it just felt like all of our wishes were in line with how they do things. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. Even for the ECV, that’s another reason we went out there. It was crunch time. There’s not too many OBs that do vaginal breech within our area. I can’t remember how many they said, it was three or something. Don’t quote me on that, but it’s very little. There’s a lot more midwives and whatnot that do practice that for at-home births, but we still wanted to be in a hospital just because it was our first and especially to the fact that he was breech, it was one of those. If we do go through this process, we want to be able to be right there in case an emergency cesarean.

Janae Rick:

I’m 37 and a half and they like to do it as close to 37 weeks as possible because then you’re considered full term and if something were to happen, you have to have baby, the longer you wait, the bigger baby gets. 

Andrew Rick:

Makes it harder-

Rebecca Dekker:

Harder to turn them. And what was the experience like? Did you have any pain control or what did you do for that?

Andrew Rick:

That to be honest was… So after our first appointment with our other OB it was one of those, she was talking about bruising and this and that and then when we get here, they’re talking like it can happen but that just means they don’t know what they’re doing. And then also with the pain meds and everything, he doesn’t prefer it because it’s better to be natural. He’s all about natural.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. So I had asked and they’re like, “We don’t really.” I’m like, okay, well let’s try. I thought to myself this will be an inkling to see what kind of pain I can handle going into birth but it was fine, it was manageable. We did one attempt and we took a break in between and I was like okay, that’s all right. It’s uncomfortable but just trying to relax and breathing. Our doula actually was able to come to that procedure, she was there and gave me some essential oils. Just trying to relax as much as I could, but it was manageable. I know for some people it isn’t always but I was glad I was able to handle it. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Awesome. So three tries and he didn’t turn. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. 

Andrew Rick:

And we thought too it was one of those, maybe he could have tried another one, but don’t want to push it. I think also because of the fact that we’re open to vaginal breech, it was like, don’t even stress the baby out. Don’t push us into something that you really don’t want to go through. We tried a couple times, didn’t really work out, so let’s just focus on the next step or the next process.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. And they checked baby’s heart rate beforehand for a while and then during and afterwards we hung around for about an hour so they just kept an eye on his heart rate to make sure he was fine. He was happy as a clam in there, so. And then we just talked to that doctor about our other options from there. I’ve heard that sometimes doctors will attempt for another appointment or go to see someone else and he just said, “No, we just do the one appointment for the ECV.” So then we talked to him about the next step and talked to him mainly about vaginal breech just to hear what he had to say and his experience with it. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. That was the other thing too, after they performed the ECV they realized he was frank breech and they said that’s optimal positioning for vaginal breech, I’m blanking right now the other two positions but that was our… I can’t remember the second one. They still can, but very unlikely, and then the third position is no, they won’t perform a vaginal breech at that point. I can’t remember… 

Rebecca Dekker:

So it looked favorable for a vaginal birth. Did he do an informed consent discussion with you or did you leave that appointment being like, all right, that’s what we’re going to do, or did you say we’re going to go home and think about it?

Janae Rick:

Yeah. They had given us some forms too to look over for consent so we read through that, but after that I was highly considering a vaginal breech and then we went home and did more research and talked about it. Within a few days, a week, I was like, “I think we want to do this.” So then we talked about transferring our care over to that hospital to be with that doctor. We had another prenatal appointment and just doing our research. The more we looked into it, the more confident we felt that this just feels right for us. 

Andrew Rick:

The information that they gave us leaving after the ECV, he was straight to the point. He didn’t sugarcoat it in any kind of way, he said, “This could happen if we proceed this way and this can happen if we proceed that way.” And that for me felt very reassuring, leaving I felt good being like okay, I personally would like for you to go see him. Referring to Nae, I think this would be a great fit just because one, he performed our ECV and we loved him even for that and the nurses and everything but then also the information that they gave us for the next step and the procedure into the fact that he’s done X amount of how many vaginal breech births, he’s very experienced with this. It just felt like we’re in good hands. Again, he didn’t sugarcoat anything. He didn’t leave us in the dark. He was like, “This could happen this way, this could happen this way.” He even got down to the point of breaking down the percentages of cesareans and hospitals. Just a fascinating man. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So it reminds me a lot of the three-legged stool of evidence-based care that you learned about in your class. Having accurate information, statistics, research, to help you make a decision, and then having a care provider who’s familiar with all the latest research and also having your goals, preferences and values honored and asked about. It really sounds like you hit the trifecta. You got the right provider, you had the information, and you together talked and decided on what you preferred, so you went for it. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah.

Janae Rick:

We did, yeah. Yeah. 

Rebecca Dekker:

So when was it you decided for sure you were going to go for a vaginal breech birth?

Janae Rick:

It was probably like for sure maybe a week after that, so 38, 39 weeks. And then we just set up our prenatals and-

Andrew Rick:

And that was the other part too though is another reason we went with them is because it gave the option for the vaginal breech is that you get more time to have your baby turn-

Rebecca Dekker:

Instead of scheduling a cesarean right at 39 weeks or 38 weeks?

Andrew Rick:

Exactly. You actually get a little bit more time for that possibility for your baby to turn. Even just looking up information on that, the percentages and how high that is or how many babies turn right before their due date. Not their due date, but before they go in. They’ll go in for the cesarean and then their baby is turned or let’s say they push it out a bit longer, their baby’s turned. So it felt nice to the fact that they were willing to push that time out, even with the vaginal breech. Yeah, take your time, hopefully he turns. They really promote that. So that felt real good leaving, knowing that too. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. And I know Jenoa was born on his due date, right at 40 weeks. What happened in that 39th week? How were you preparing, or what were you doing? How were you getting yourself into the best mindset for the birth?

Janae Rick:

We were still doing all of our exercises. I was still going to the chiropractor, spinning babies, there’s still a chance. I started to change my language talking to baby boy in my belly and saying, from, “We need you to turn, come on,” and then changing to, “If you don’t want to turn, if you can’t, that’s okay. We’re going to make it work.” I think talking to your baby is really important so just changing our mindset from okay, we’re going to make this, get him to turn, to instead like if he doesn’t that’s okay. I actually honestly feel okay about it because we’re in good hands at this other hospital with this doctor and we know that we can do vaginal breech and I felt confident that we were doing the right thing and really just excited to get him here. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. It was crazy though too, the amount of information, even looking at 39 weeks but from 35 to 39 the amount of information we took in for just finding out about him being breech was absolutely insane. The percentage for vaginal breech in the United States, how low it is compared to internationally how the practice is kind of a forgotten thing. Even talking with the OB he said how they’re starting to practice it more in Canada and they’re starting to implement vaginal breech around the world more just because of how common it really it. It was just interesting to hear all that information. So digging in more and more, but at the same time, it’s a lot of information but it’s not very detailed. This is kind of all it is. There isn’t a crazy amount of percentages, for the United States at least, but when you talk about outside the world they have percentages that you wouldn’t even believe.

Janae Rick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Even watching videos too of breech birth and seeing like look at these people do it and hearing other peoples stories and reading blogs and articles about people’s birth, just learning this person did it, why can’t I do it?

Rebecca Dekker:

So you thought you learned a lot in the EBB childbirth class and then you found out your baby was breech and you had to learn a whole additional world on top of that, because that’s a specialty in and of itself. And you were cramming yourselves full of information but it sounds like you also had a really good mindset of staying calm and confident in your body, that’s really cool. So tell us your birth story, how did it begin?

Janae Rick:

So it was, let’s see… My whole pregnancy, it was smooth up until our breech warnings but it was a Wednesday night and I slept terribly. I was just icky and had to keep going to the bathroom and then Thursday I was working from home all day and I was just achy and uncomfortable and I was like okay, maybe he’s moving down lower, this is probably just the end of pregnancy feels. That was the day before my due date, and I was so comfortable that he’s going to go past his due date. Well, by the end of my workday I was starting to have contractions and Andrew was like, “Maybe we should start timing these.” Yeah, we probably should. So I was just kind of handling them and we called our doula to just say something’s happening. She’s like, “Just try to relax and do this,” and I ended up getting into the tub at home. I was very calm, and Andrew was helping me with some pain relief. From the class, the hip squeeze was one of my favorite go-to positions. 

Andrew Rick:

That was the go to. 

Janae Rick:

So just being on all fours and him squeezing my lower hips, so we talked to our doula again and called the hospital and they were like, “It sounds like you can make your way here, you don’t have to rush.” I was like okay, are we doing this?

Andrew Rick:

They said you don’t have to rush but from our house to the hospital it was about 40 minutes. So it was one of those, you don’t have to rush but you might want to start coming in this direction because you don’t know what else is going to happen and you don’t want to be stuck in the car situation, so. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And this is in a different state, right? Across the state lines to get there. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. We’re in Minnesota and we had to bounce over to Wisconsin, so yeah. 

Janae Rick:

So we got there and I think it was like 9:15pm we checked in, and then the nurse was asking if I wanted to have a cervical check. My mind’s going like I don’t want any of these, but I was like well we just got here, my water hasn’t broken, yeah. Let’s see where we’re at. So she checked and I was three centimeters dilated and 90% effaced, and she was very excited. “This is really good for a first-time mom,” and I was like, okay. 

Andrew Rick:

Just motivation. It was real nice hearing that, things are going good, things are going great.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. And then my doula got there soon after that, I was just having contractions and started using cool rags on my head and the back of my neck that felt really good. We just kept going to the position for contractions with the hip squeezes and going on all fours. I went to go sit on the toilet, I was on the bed, I was on the birthing ball, just all over. So then I’m there, my timeline here. I got into the tub around midnight at the hospital and then I was starting to feel a tiny bit pushy. I don’t know, I feel like we’re getting closer to something. I was in the tub just trying to relax and then I felt something. 

Andrew Rick:

Something’s happening. Something’s happening. 

Janae Rick:

Okay, stand up. And I saw my amniotic sack had started to come out, so it was just like a little balloon hanging there. I touched it and then they got me a mirror and I was like, “That’s so cool.” Okay, got to get out of the tub. From there I think I got back on the bed and just having more contractions. They called the OB doctor in at that point… 

Andrew Rick:

They called-

Janae Rick:

They checked me first.

Andrew Rick:

They checked her first and when they checked, Nae did not want to know where she was at. So they told the doula and myself, come to find out she was at eight centimeters. 

Janae Rick:

And this was two and a half hours after I had gotten there. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Wow, you went from a three to an eight in two and a half hours. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. But I didn’t know at that point. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. She didn’t know, and then next thing you know they also called the OB in because it’s time, baby boy’s coming. 

Rebecca Dekker:

It’s getting close. 

Andrew Rick:

It’s getting close. So next thing you know, Nae ends up getting out of the tub because the sack, they were like okay, let’s just get you out of the tub and everything else, so then we get Nae over to the bed and next thing you know the OB walks in. What did you say to him?

Janae Rick:

I was like, “Oh, you’re here, something must be happening or it must be getting close.” He was like, “Well of course I’m here,” but I don’t think he knew at that point that I didn’t know how dilated I was or anything. I was starting to be in my own little world like keeping my head down, my eyes were closed a lot, and then I saw him. He was like, “Well yeah, I’m here.” Okay, this is a good sign. So then, let’s see. Just before 1am my water broke and I was on the bed on all fours, and then it was about 20 minutes after, that’s when I started to push with contractions. Then I had a few on the bed and then I went to the birthing stool at that point. I started to realize better how to push because this is all new to me and having to like-

Andrew Rick:

They call it bearing down. Just bear down, because it was one of those, you’d get to a certain point in the contraction even just pushing to where it seemed like she was pushing but then she kind of would just stop. They were like, “Just bear down, when you get to that last little–you ride that wave and push it. Push, push, push as much as you can.”

Janae Rick:

Yeah. On the birthing stool was weird but just letting all of your weight go down, figuring out how to do it. Then hearing a reaction from the nurses and Andrew and my doula in the room like oh yeah, that’s it, okay, figuring out okay, we’re making progress. So then I went back onto the bed and I was on my side, then I was on my back where I was holding my knees and just pushing. Then just hearing the people in the room get excited because then they saw Jenoa’s but come out first. Like okay-

Andrew Rick:

What was it, meconium? 

Janae Rick:

Yeah, then he had meconium. He pooped several times.

Rebecca Dekker:

As he was coming out?

Janae Rick:

Yeah. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. Just because again, vaginal breech, so it was like his butt’s coming first-

Rebecca Dekker:

It just squeezes the poop out of him. 

Andrew Rick:

Literally, literally. It was one of those, we saw it coming and I didn’t know what to think. Is that his arm? The doctor was like, “No, that’s his butt, and here comes his lower cheek, now here comes his upper cheek, here he comes.” I was like, oh my God, it’s his butt. He’s here. This whole time he’s been this close to us and to finally see, I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy and happiness. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. So then his torso came out and then his right arm first and then his left arm was stalled for a moment so the doctor had to help with his arm and his head, because a lot of times babies will tuck their chin down to help get out but he had his head up, so the doctor had to come in and he stuck his hand up to try to get him out quickly-

Rebecca Dekker:

To tuck his chin down. 

Andrew Rick:

To tuck his chin down so it’s easier to come out. That was the other thing too, with vaginal breech there’s no hands on. They don’t touch baby at all. Even when he had the meconium coming out, the nurse was trying to, she grabbed the towel and she was trying to just clean up and the OB stepped in and was like, “Don’t even touch with the towel, don’t startle the baby. We don’t want any erratic movements from him. Just let the process happen.” So that was nice hearing that being like okay, thank you, because I remember him, that was something he made very, very clear to us in the very beginning. 

Rebecca Dekker:

That’s why it’s important to have that experienced provider there who knows what it’s important to do and not do. 

Andrew Rick:

I saw a rocking chair in the room, this is backing up, but just when we went for the ECV I saw the rocking chair in the room and he mentioned, “Yeah, hopefully I just sit here and just watch the whole thing happen.” I was like really? That’s it? Yeah, sure. Baby Jenoa’s on his way here and the doctor’s in the rocking chair just hanging out. I was like oh, he was serious. Yeah, there’s no hands-on. It’s you guys, the stage is yours. We’ll only intervene when we need to. So it was nice hearing him say that to the nurse. She was very experienced too but she was just trying to clean up. Don’t even, don’t even do that because again we want this to be all him and mother, just the process.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. He was kind of laid back unless there was like okay, go for it, but he kind of let the nurses take the lead. I think he was also trying to teach them a lot too. Then I would hear him click his flashlight to look and check on baby. But it was great. Jenoa came out-

Andrew Rick:

So his butt first and his legs followed right after, flopped down, then his right arm did too. The doctor had to step in, just because his arm was kind of… Not up in the full upright position but it was hung up a little bit so he had to move his arm just a little bit to help. The first time that he actually jumped in that I actually touched Jenoa, but after that, that’s when it was his head. Nae was doing this rocking moment-

Janae Rick:

I was going back and forth-

Andrew Rick:

Just helped, and it was helping in the beginning and it got to the point where you could tell Nae because when it got to that last stretch, it was like push, push, push, push. You want to ride with the contractions and everything else but it seemed like I felt something from the doctor to where it was, he couldn’t wait for that next contraction to get the head fully out to where Jenoa came out. The videos we’ve seen, a lot of babies with vaginal breech they actually help out, we were asking even the doctor about this. It seems like they help out, they’ll sit there and move their legs or move their arms-

Rebecca Dekker:

The babies, they wiggle in different ways to get out. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. Jenoa wasn’t doing that at the moment so the doctor, he had this look in his eye like I have to step in now. This is a call that I have to make. He made the right call to where that experience again, from all the births that he’s delivered vaginal breech, you can tell he was like I’ve seen this before so I know how to react to this. So he actually ended up putting his hand inside Janae and tipping Jenoa’s head forward so the head would fully fall out because again, his head was tilted back a little bit and then his legs and arms and everything were in the sitting up position. 

Then once he got the head out, I was able to cut the cord, but it was very… Because that was the other thing too, we wanted to have the cord as long as we could, but in Jenoa’s situation they had to get him over to the warmer, you know? The doctor was able to still let me cut the cord though, it was very frantic. It was fast. He gave me the look after Jenoa was out, he was like, “Here, take this. Cord, right here, cut.” And I cut, and then he literally just ran over to the warmer to help get Jenoa… Not necessarily breathing, because he was breathing, it seemed fine, but it took him a second to get his lungs expanded.

Janae Rick:

Yeah. So they had to use a CPAP and get him, so I think they said it was 30 seconds to a minute before he had his first breath, so he basically came out limp. I did not see him, because I was facing this way, and Andrew say everything. He really at that point was traumatized a little bit because baby wasn’t moving. It’s not the worst but they got him to the warmer and then after a minute he had a breath and a cry. I was like, what is going on? 

Andrew Rick:

I just kept giving Nae the thumbs up kind of because she had to go through with the placenta and everything else. 

Janae Rick:

I mean, that was after. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, it was after, but it was still the whole process. I don’t want to throw this on you just because we just… So thumbs up, everything’s going good. But also though, the doctor did point out to us… I forgot that he pointed this out, but he said that can happen with vaginal breech. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. So we kind of knew that ahead of time too-

Rebecca Dekker:

That your baby might need a little resuscitation after the birth?

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. But when you see it, you forget about it. When I saw it, I just completely, oh my gosh. Is this normal? Is this normal? Just questioning everything, is he okay? Then I saw a smirk kind of and then a little cry and then a blank. Okay, yes. We’re doing great, we’re doing perfect. 

Janae Rick:

So at that point, they’re just right across 10, 15 feet away in the warmer so I was just watching and waiting. Oh, he could have to go to the warmer, but he was over there for 25 minutes. So I was waiting, I delivered my placenta, and then at that point I was across the room like come on Jenoa, just talking to him. So then they ended up rolling the warmer over to the bed to me so I got to put my hand on him and that’s when I lost it. That’s when I started crying. I got to see him at that point, so it was a little while. I felt like I was pretty calm because I knew Drew was right next to him-

Andrew Rick:

It was nice too because the doctor, he’s over there, got Jenoa to the warmer then, right away the pediatrician, she was over there helping Jenoa with the CPAP and the doctor told me to come over actually. He said, “Andrew come here, come here.” He was like, “Just touch him. Just hold him, give him some skin to skin, be right here with him.” That was amazing to the fact that he brought me over to the warmer and had me involved with everything that was going on over there, the comforting of Jenoa. Then it got to the point too where, I think it was after 30 minutes, the doctor was like, “Yeah, he seems like he’s doing okay. Just bring the machine over, we need to get baby over to mother.”

Because they’re very very adamant about skin to skin, they wanted to get baby to mother as fast as possible. Typically in a great situation or ideal situation it’s right away but with this situation he had to go to the warmer first for a little bit, then they got him over to mother. It was a call again by the doctor that has been doing this for a while, he said, “Yeah, get him over to mother, at least we can open the door and mother can touch him, mother can be next to him and everything else.” I think it was a few minutes after that, 10, 15 minutes I want to say after that, not even. He was like, “He can get out of the warmer, let’s do skin to skin because…”

Janae Rick:

Yeah, the pediatrician was like, “That’s not protocol, his numbers aren’t all there yet,” and the OB doctor was like, “Let’s get him out.” So we got Jenoa on my chest and almost immediately all his numbers, his oxygen went up, everything was perfect.

Rebecca Dekker:

That’s amazing. 

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. 

Janae Rick:

Oh my gosh, we should have done this a few minutes prior. But it was great, and then we just… He was on my chest for a little bit and then we tried to breastfeed soon after that. It was awesome, I was in labor for about 10 hours and then I think it was three hours of pushing, so from there, I don’t know what else. 

Andrew Rick:

Now we’re here. 

Rebecca Dekker:

And you gave birth to a breech baby and you didn’t have major surgery, which is very rare in the United States.

Andrew Rick:

And then also no tears or anything and then also no medication. That was the other thing. There was certain points of the process, we talked afterwards, Janae was like, “Yeah, I feel like I could have towards this,” but it got to the point where it was like we’re already this far into labor and everything else there’s no point. 

Janae Rick:

I had thought about an epidural at the earlier stage when I was in the tub and I never vocalized it, and in my birth plan too I wrote, and all of the nurses and doctor looked at it thoroughly, I wrote in there don’t ask me for pain relief unless I bring it up, and I never vocalized it, not even to Andrew.

Andrew Rick:

And then never brought it up either, so that was real nice of them. 

Rebecca Dekker:

They really followed your birth plan. That’s amazing. 

Andrew Rick:

They really did. Even at certain points where it was like, with the active labor pushing and everything else. I had times where I was like, okay, is he progressing? Is he not progressing? Looking back at the doctor and the nurses and they’re like yeah, we’re just going to ride this out. I think this was more so because of the factor of the birth plan, we want this to be as natural as possibly can be. They respected that, we thank-

Rebecca Dekker:

What was your post partum experience like then, going home with your new baby?

Janae Rick:

The day that we left the hospital, we got Jenoa loaded up in the car seat and we were driving out of the parking lot and Andrew and I both just started crying. Oh my God, we have a son. We’re going home. This is wild. I sat in the back seat with him and I just looked at Andrew in the rearview mirror and his eyes were all teary. We got home and I got on the couch and fed him immediately and got settled and Andrew brought everything into the house. Trying to stay on top of looking at his cues and lots of snuggles and feeding him frequently and sleeping was very little, especially that first week. 

Andrew Rick:

But we kind of got into a routine a little bit. Again, our doula told us the 15-

Janae Rick:

The five-day rule. 

Andrew Rick:

What is it, five days in bed, five days next to the bed, and then five days around the bed-

Janae Rick:

Just going to be better for your postpartum healing, not going upstairs and trying to listen to all of those things, just take it easy. I think from our class too we had learned, I prepared Andrew to know how to help. Him helping me get set up to breastfeed too, getting the baby in the position. It was a lot-

Andrew Rick:

Eating, eating was a huge thing too. Nae, there would be times she be feeding Jenoa just because it’s so often, especially fresh, brand new baby. It was one of those okay, I know you’re hungry, you’re feeding I’m, I’ll help feed you. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. He would literally give me bites of food while I was feeding him and just being a rock star husband, helping out with everything. We waited, it was almost a week before we had family visit, just because COVID. So we had three family members come visit us and they all had COVID tests done and were just cautious with hand washing and all that stuff. My mom had come up and she’s always very helpful, she was making all the meals and doing dishes and laundry and Andrew’s really good at that too but it was nice to have a break. She would hang onto baby and we would go nap together for a while. 

Andrew Rick:

That was the other thing too in the beginning, we got into… Again, I was saying earlier, the routine was sleeping, so I really was you just gave birth, you just went through all this, you need to rest. I’m sorry, your body needs some healing and everything else so if you feed, I can take him, and then you just go into another room. We have a spare bedroom by our living room, go into the spare bedroom, shut the door, take a nap. Try to get some solid sleep, and then when you’re done with your session then feeding time, two hours, three hours at the moment then she’ll come out and feed, and then I will go in there. So it was leapfrogging off of each other, but then also too with the postpartum, just to throw this out there. I wish that more partners, men, I should say, can have more time when it comes down to-

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, I was going to ask how much time did you have? It sounds like-

Andrew Rick:

Because I work in the restaurant industry, all my jobs are pretty much doing seasonal right now. When spring hits, that’s when they’re going to open back up and patios and all this other stuff. So it was really nice to the fact that I’m kind of just at home. I kind of got maternity leave myself because I could only imagine how that first… A week is not enough. To be honest with you, I don’t understand why it’s not more because there’s so much going on in that first week, even just the process. You have a newborn, you have another human being in your life that you’re taking care of. 

Just that process alone was a lot but easing into that, that first week blew by. I can only imagine if I had to go back to work right after that and Nae was stuck at home, feeding him, trying to take a nap. It would just be a lot. So I feel like we’re very fortunate during these times to the fact that I was able to be at home and actually be that support to where okay, after this week, guess what? You can get your full three hours or two hours of rest and not have to worry about baby boy. You know what I mean? Being able to bounce off of each other was absolutely a blessing. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. I’ve talked to a few other couples who had a similar experience where they almost got this unexpected leave because of COVID that allowed them both to be at home, it’s a little bit of a silver lining for some families I think.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. It really-

Rebecca Dekker:

But definitely, I think you’re right. The people who experienced that during COVID, that ability to be home with a new baby, I think it will make for a lot more strong advocates for paternity leave, paid maternity leave, and paternity leave for the future legislation hopefully in the United States.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah. To be honest with you, I hope a lot more men or just partners in general band together and voice their opinion about this because again, it just blows my mind to the fact that this is all that’s given. I can’t believe it. 

Janae Rick:

Yeah. I’m lucky that I get 12 full weeks but Andrew what have had to go back to work so-

Andrew Rick:

I would have had to take a week of, it would have been unpaid. I’d take a week off unpaid. Some jobs, they offer the partner or whatever a week. Most of them don’t. You just have to take off yourself and one of those, I could use sick pay or I could use… Something like that, you got to use something that’s meant for something else back to this. 

Rebecca Dekker:

Well, thank you so much Janae and Andrew for sharing your experience and your insights and I got to see your baby on Skype which was so adorable. Any final questions or comments for me?

Andrew Rick:

I wanted to ask, in the evidence base, if there could be more discussion of vaginal breech. Again, it was one of those, it was thrown at us and we went in and we saw certain sections but it wasn’t a lot. But then again there’s not a lot of information out there about this, about vaginal breech. Especially again for the United States it’s just jump into cesarean, here you go, we’re just going to-

Rebecca Dekker:

They don’t give you all your options. Cesarean is a good option for a lot of people but it shouldn’t be the only option, because then it’s not really a choice. 

Andrew Rick:

Exactly, yeah.

Janae Rick:

I think that’s the biggest thing is, I don’t know, from what we went through I felt really empowered and just want to encourage other people that just because a doctor tells you this is what to do doesn’t mean you need to align with it. What’s going to work for you, and do your research and find out as much information as you can and there’s resources out there that can help you. Your birth can be what you want it to be. There’s just a lot to learn. 

Rebecca Dekker:

I did want to say, so you all inspired me for our guest next week, so your episode is airing on this Wednesday, April 7th. Next week, April 14, we have Dr. Rixa Freeze and Dr. David Hayes of Breech without Borders who travel around the world, training doctors, midwives, how to do breech vaginal births. They’re coming on the podcast next week to talk about the research evidence on breech vaginal birth. So very excited, I think that’s going to be a really important episode. The week after that, we’re going to do an update, a podcast about the external cephalic version that you all experienced. So hopefully there will be these mini-series of podcast episodes that we’ll put on a podcast, also on YouTube, and hopefully, it will help parents who are in a similar situation as you were.

Andrew Rick:

Yeah, definitely. Thank you. That’s awesome. That was another thing too, we asked the nurses and everything at the hospital, we were like so when this doctor retires or when they’re done, who’s going to… And they were like, that’s a good question because this is something that’s not practiced in the United States anymore really.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. Well I’d encourage you to check out, I don’t know if you found it when you were doing your research, but it’s called breechwithoutborders.org and they have tons of resources, videos, articles, research. And then they have the live trainings for pros in the field too. They have a new website, it’s been totally revamped since COVID and there’s just a lot of information there. So-

Janae Rick:

Yeah, we did check that out. They had a lot of good stuff on there. I’m excited to hear. 

Rebecca Dekker:

For any parents who are listening who find themselves with a breech baby, definitely check out breechwithoutborders.org. It’s probably the single best resource online for breech vaginal birth, so. All right, thank you so much Janae and Andrew. It was so nice meeting you both and thank you for sharing your story. 

Andrew Rick:

Thank you Evidence. 

Rebecca Dekker:

This podcast episode was brought to you by the book Babies Are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered! Babies Are Not Pizzas is a memoir that tells the story of how I navigated a broken healthcare system and uncovered how I could still receive evidence-based care. In this book, you’ll learn about the history of childbirth and midwifery, the evidence on a variety of birth topics, and how we can prevent preventable trauma in childbirth. Babies Are Not Pizzas is available on Amazon as a Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and Audible book. Get your copy today and make sure to email me after you read it to let me know your thoughts. 

 

Listening to this podcast is an Australian College of Midwives CPD Recognised Activity.

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