I was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of scoliosis when I was in the 5th grade. I started seeing an orthopedic surgeon at that time, and the best option to prevent my curve from progressing was to wear a back brace. I hated the thing, but ended up wearing it 22 hrs a day for what seemed like forever. Im guessing it was a year or two in all reality.
The back brace did its job for many years, and my curve stayed at what it was since the time I was an adolescent. I got yearly x-rays and that was about it. Fast forward to around age 21 or 22, I started to experience pain in my back and neck, something the scoliosis had never previously caused. My yearly x-rays revealed my curve had jumped another 10 degrees. I had always been a candidate for surgery, but now I most certainly was. My curve was now somewhere in 50 degree range.
The surgery itself is pretty serious, the doctors that perform it are limited, and there are a lot of different dynamics that play into it. I wont get into all that today because its not what this post is about. Its about how I always questioned how my back condition would play into a pregnancy and delivery.
All the doctors I saw over the years never seemed toooo concerned about it. However, in the back of my mind, I was always worried. Worried about how painful pregnancy would be (which I try not to discuss much on this blog because I know how upsetting it can be to hear pregnant women complain when you are trying), worried about how I would be able to deliver my baby safely when I clearly was not built structurally “normal.”
Brings us to the current dilemma. I decided I should take my x-ray images to my OB appt this week just to make sure all looked okay delivery wise, since we are now at 33 weeks. Lets just say she was a little surprised by what she saw. I guess I hide my curve pretty well, or so Ive heard over the years. She immediately said I needed an anesthesia consult at the hospital because she wasnt sure if I could even receive an epidural or spinal block due to the curve. Her concern seemed to be getting the needles in place correctly. There was some talk of general anesthesia during delivery and thats when I started to feel the anxiety and fear building up as it used to at my doctor appointments. I heard words like “only options,” “very serious,” “baby born sleeping,” “dont see the baby for awhile” etc. I zoned out.
After going through much bullshit to get the person I needed to talk to at the hospital, I was sitting in their office the next morning for a consult, x-ray images in hand. The anesthesiologist examined them and my spine. She explained that both epidurals and spinals are inserted into the L4 or L5 vertebrates, which are towards the bottom of the spine. This was very good news for me, because my curve is mostly towards the top of my spine. She was able to locate my L4 and L5 easily and said she would not have any issue getting either in at that location as my OB worried about. She credited my “small frame” (ha!) as making it easy for her to find.
Worst case scenario? According to the anesthesiologist, an epidural or a spinal block in me may only numb one side, instead of both sides that should be numbed in a “normal” person. My curve may cause the medicine to stay on one side more than the other, but there is no way of knowing that until we try.
Bottom line? It would be best to try to deliver vaginally first (even though my pelvis is quite tilted due to my scoliosis) with the possibility of an epidural that doesnt fully work, than to schedule a c-section and get a spinal block that doesnt fully work.
If I was to get a spinal that didnt fully work, I would have to then undergo general anesthesia for the section. And that, of course, is what no one wants at all.
The anesthesiologist put all of the notes into the computer system so that my OB and all the other anesthesiologists could see her findings. I am happy I got to speak with her, she relieved some of my fears. Now its on my OB and I moving forward as far as what we do.
Baby boy is not breech anymore, which helps us avoid the c-section route. Also, his weight is not above average which us another positive in avoiding a section. Finally, my RE confirmed my myomectomy (fibroid removal) did not cut into the uterine wall since it was done lap. These facts are all in our favor for delivery vaginally. Now, at my next appt we need to look at my birth canal/pelvis and see if she thinks it could birth a baby without putting him in danger.
I should wrap this up by saying that I do not care how our baby comes into this world as long as it is safely.
All medical personnel agree that undergoing general anesthesia is not the ideal way to bring a baby safely into the world, although it can be done. My way of thinking (and hubbys) is that perhaps we need to exhaust all options in case a worst case scenario comes up.
Try vaginally. Get an epidural if needed. If it doesnt numb both sides, still try to push through. If he cant get out safely, move on to a c-section with a spinal block. Pray it numbs both sides. If it doesnt, last resort…get knocked out.
Cant anything ever be easy?!?