Lindsay Franklin Hiss wanted a natural childbirth.
The 31-year-old Fort Wayne woman wanted to bring her baby into the world in a dimly lit room with a midwife by her side and no drugs in her system.
Hiss was physically prepared, her body made strong by yoga and CrossFit.
Her husband, Nathan Hiss, supported her. As a chiropractor, he embraces natural remedies for almost every ache or pain.
The only hitch was their baby’s breech position, which was detected with an ultrasound at 32 weeks. But Lindsay Hiss, whose sister had delivered two breech babies by cesarean section, wanted to avoid abdominal surgery if she could.
Hiss believes the birth of her daughter, Lily, six months ago has prompted local hospital administrators to re-examine how far they’re willing to support an expectant mother’s desire for a vaginal birth when the baby is positioned to be born feet or buttocks first. Local hospital officials wouldn’t confirm whether Hiss’ case prompted policy reviews.
"I believe I had been the only one, and it stirred a little controversy," Hiss said, adding she would make the same choice again.
That choice didn’t come quickly or easily, however.
Despite encouragement from her midwife and husband, Hiss was "too scared" to attempt a home breech birth.
And she didn’t want to settle for a planned C-section, even though her parents and sister pushed that option.
"I was terrified of getting a C-section," Hiss said. "I didn’t want to be cut open."
So she pursued a middle path – a natural birth in a hospital with an experienced OB-GYN by her side – after meeting with Dr. Christopher Stroud, who heads Fertility & Midwifery Care Center.
"I talked to him probably an hour about all the things that could go wrong," Hiss said. "There’s a risk her head will get stuck on the way out. That was my concern with a home birth, that there’s no way you can get to the hospital fast enough."
The meeting reassured Hiss that Stroud had the training to assist with a vaginal breech birth. Otherwise, she said, she would have opted for a C-section.
Hiss, who went into labor five days before her due date, gave birth at Dupont Hospital in the delivery room closest to the operating room.
The drug-free, 10-hour labor was painful. There’s no sugarcoating that.
"It was absolutely horrible," she said.
Hiss was almost ready to give in and ask for strong painkillers when Stroud announced that she was dilated to 91/2 centimeters and could start pushing. The window for drugs had passed.
After a little less than two hours, baby Lily was born – 7 pounds, 6 ounces – butt first. Lily is now a healthy, happy 6-month-old.
Hiss, an attorney and partner in Franklin Law, understands that hospital administrators must minimize the chances patients or their families will file lawsuits against the health care provider.
"From a liability aspect, I understand why they need to do what they need to do," she said.
Even so, Hiss doesn’t think a breech baby should automatically trigger a C-section.
"For me to be able to deliver her my way was really, really amazing," she said. "And I have Dr. Stroud to thank for that."