A Dilemma 

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?!?

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32 thoughts on “A Dilemma 

  1. I hope none of this becomes an issue for you as you’ve been through enough already! Thank goodness he’s now head down.

    As for labor pain, everyone experiences it differently and there is no right or wrong answer. But I wanted to say that I got the epidural and it worked on both sides initially. But as my labor progressed it overmedicated my right side/leg and I could feel all of my contractions on the left side. It was totally bearable and actually helped me know when to push on my own. So if that is the case that it only works on one side, hopefully the pain won’t be terrible. (I know the major concern is for if you needed a c/s but just in case you were worried about pain control delivering vaginally). Hugs!!

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  2. Ah, that sounds so complicated! I’m sorry you’re having to go through this. It sounds like you have a good idea of what you’re going to do, and I have no doubts that after everything you’ve been through you’ll do great, whatever happens! X

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  3. Wow, when I think of all the hurdles you have had so far with this pregnancy alone (besides all the losses and infertility before), it’s crazy that you have to go through so much!! You’re so strong and amazing, I’m sure you’ll figure this out with your usual grace and positivity! I’m rooting for you as always! Hugs

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  4. Oh my goodness gracious! So, I had scoliosis and kyphosis too as a child- I worse a back brace through middle school #hot #popular. I will be thinking about you and how you are doing and also interested to get more info should I (ever) find myself in this position xx

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  5. Wow -you have seriously had to deal with a lot in your pregnancy. Sorry to hear about this complication, but it is good that you have had a chance to talk through the options before your birth so that you can mentally prepare for what may come, and can bring that plan to your birth. So glad to hear your risk of C-section is lower now the baby has moved. Something I heard recently that I really liked was to think of the unbearably painful bits of childbirth like ‘the wall’ in a marathon – that you’ve just go to get through it, and then you’ll be rewarded for all your months of hard work. Wishing for an uncomplicated and safe delivery for both baby and you xx

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  6. Angela, I was in the same situation you are in now, infertility, pregnancy loss and scoliosis. When I finally became pregnant I also had an anesthesia consult and was reassured the same way you were. When it came time for my twins to be delivered, just 12 weeks ago now, I ended up with a C-section as one was transverse and the other breech. Despite the anesthesia consult being on my chart the anesthesiologist that was doing my spinal block wasn’t aware of my scoliosis until I mentioned it. She was then concerned and said she didn’t know if it would be possible (despite what the consulting Dr. said 2 months prior). In the end she ended up feeling my spine and finding the space she needed to insert the needle. I won’t lie, it was the most painful feeling ever!. But it was successful and the C-section went on smoothly. I guess I am trying to say that it’s not impossible but, as you know, communication amongst health care personnel isn’t the greatest so ensure your anesthesiologist at the time of birth reads your consult.
    I don’t have any experience with epidural, but 2 of my friends said that it only helped with the pain from the contractions and did nothing for when the baby was crowning. Both could not feel when they had to push and next time would not choose the epidural as it didn’t help with the worst pain of baby coming out.
    I hope everything goes smoothly for you and you don’t have to go through the stress of worrying about anesthesia.

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    • Thank you for sharing your (similar) story. I am so glad to hear that despite your scoliosis you were still able to get a spinal and safely deliver your twins via c-section! How wonderful. I agree that communication is key, and can only pray all medical staff is on board when the time comes soon.

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  7. OK lady…no more is aloud to be thrown your way, you have had your fair share! Your story reminded me a lot of what my sister went through. She also had good curve and had the wear the brace for about 4 years until she was 16 I believe. By the time she was 21 her spine had curved drastically and they recommended surgery, which she did do.
    You are one strong women and you’ve got this! You’re little man is going to be hear before you know it!

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  8. While nothing like the issues you are having to content with, I did have some anesthesia/epidural issues due to my severe allergies to a number of pain meds, iodine and not tolerating anesthesia well at all. My OBs also suggested a consult with the anesthesiologist before delivery which really helped to alleviate my fears. But once I got in an emergency situation and needed an unplanned epidural for my crash c-section, all their pre-knowledge went out the window and thank God I was clear enough to remind them of my allergies since they were about to prep me with iodine. Always be your own advocate and don’t be afraid to keep telling the nurses, doctors and staff what you need. You may feel like a broken record but only you know what’s best for you : )

    Hoping for a smooth, safe and trauma free delivery for all of you.

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    • Its scary when u have to throw in another factor into the unknown! As first time moms we have no idea what to expect at delivery and are already so nervous bc of our past that kinks like this make it tough. Im so glad all worked out though and u were able to speak up for yourself!

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  9. Gosh, I am so sorry. And….no, it seems like things are just not easy for some of us! I will say I got an epidural too and felt the pain on one side for some of the labor (I was induced, had a 27 hour labor, and 2 hours of pushing – not typical)! But, I could feel pushing the right amount, I would say, by the time it got to that point. The hardest part of that was the actual pushing/workout (and I am fairly athletic) – not the pain. I will be thinking about you! In the end, a healthy baby really does make everything else fade!

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