What happens when your birthing plan goes out the window, and how a babymoon can help.
Hearing the phrase “This just isn’t going to happen” from your OB-GYN
is most likely not a part of your birth plan.
by: Kate Horne
“I was constantly searching sites for birthing plans, birthing playlists…
I am definitely a control freak.”
In November of 2013 my first child was due. My husband and I were elated. My pregnancy was smooth sailing; I was still exercising and eating healthy every day. My pregnancy was all the things you would want an ideal pregnancy to be. However, as any expectant mother in the twentieth century, I was constantly scouring pregnancy sites, Pinterest, mommy boards and blogs for birthing plans, playlists and to-do checklists for the perfect birth. I was going to have a natural birth, no drugs, and definitely not have a c section.
I’ll admit that I am definitely a control freak. My hospital bag was packed weeks (maybe months) in advance, including a bright green folder of important information for my husband. He was briefed with explicit instructions to accompany the folder. I decided every song I wanted to play, that I was going to shower mid-labor, and that there was absolutely no way I was going to have an epidural. My green folder held insurance cards, all of our paperwork for the hospital, my “notes” for things during labor and that ever-important playlist for every stage of labor. As wonderful as technology is, I can now openly admit that all my extensive online research did for me was create a very unhealthy and unrealistic expectation of what delivery of another human would be like.
“I can now openly admit that all my extensive online research did for me was create a very unhealthy and unrealistic expectation.”
My water finally broke around 11 p.m. as I stepped into the shower. My control freak tendencies kicked in and I continued with my shower as my husband began the phone tree. I put on eyeliner, made sure my pajamas/shoes matched and ensured my plan, notes and phone were in my bag as we walked out the door. During our drive, I braced myself for the events ahead of me as my husband spoke to his parents on the phone. We were excited, terrified, and freaking out. Our first baby was finally on the way.
We arrived at the hospital and received confirmation that my water did indeed break. I handed the nurse my registration paperwork (already filled out, of course), asked for my ice chips, and began to explain my plan to the staff. My nurse was nice enough to just smile and wish me luck.
“My nurse was nice enough to just smile and wish me luck.”
Soon the doctor on-call arrived and explained what to expect in the hours ahead. He mentioned that if my contractions were not stronger by the morning, I would have to be hooked up to Pitocin to speed up the process. I heard this and got mad. I was only an hour or so in, and someone was already trying to ruin my plan! In my delirious, mid-labor mind, I believed that my water broke for a reason and my body obviously knew what it was doing. I was dead-set on sticking to my birth plan. Frustrated, I laid down in the bed. “I just need to sleep until the contractions get stronger,” I told my husband.
Throughout the night nurses flitted in and out of the room to check on my vitals and contractions. 5 a.m. rolled around and my regular doctor woke me to hook me up to Pitocin, much to my dismay. However, since my water had already broke, the doctors agreed that it was important for my son’s health to move things along.
The moment the drugs were administered began the most time-warped day of my life.Time both crawled and sped by at the same time. My mom, husband and mother-in-law sat in the room with me as I did what I could to help the process along. I bounced on the exercise ball, paced the room, continued going to the restroom, and ate my snacks. The floor nurse stopped by at least five times to ask if I was ready for an epidural, but each time I refused. To be honest, my contractions were never as painful as I expected them to be.
“I started feeling incredibly powerful”
Hours passed by and evening approached. I started feeling incredibly powerful. All was as going as planned… except for the part where I hadn’t delivered my baby. My doctor’s regular day was ending so she stopped by to check on my progress. She did some squats with me, gave me a hug, and guided me to the hospital bed to check on how dilated I was. I laid down on the table and thought about long delivering my son was taking. Though I knew that first time deliveries could take awhile, I had not expected to spend so much time waiting for the actual delivery to begin.
“I can feel your son’s head,” she said. She shot my husband a look of concern.
She removed her gloves slowly. “Baby girl, this just isn’t going to happen. I think we need to do a cesarean.” My eyes instantly welled up with tears.
“My son’s head was ‘slamming’ into my pelvic bone … we both cried”
My physician told me I could keep trying, but she didn’t recommend it, as my son’s head was “slamming” into my pelvic bone– one that just didn’t seem to be wide enough. The next minutes all blur together in my memory. I I gave my doctor a brief nod. My husband held me while an epidural was administered. We both cried. He put on a paper suit. My parents hugged me. I was wheeled off into the operating room to have my son.
I was educated about C-sections, but I was not prepared to receive one. No one told me that I would be weak, dazed, and unable to physically hold my child after delivery. I watched my son enter this world, be placed into my husband’s arms, and then be escorted out of the operating room. Left alone, the surgical staff sewed me up and rolled me into recovery. Left to my own devices, I did the only thing that any completely exhausted control freak would do – I thought obsessively about everything that had just happened to me.
“It’s a strange feeling to think that your body couldn’t
do something it’s designed to do”
When I was told I needed an emergency C-section, I went through many mixed emotions. The first was deep fear and worry about my baby. The second was that I failed. It was strange to feel that my body could not do something that it was designed to do. Women having been giving birth for millennia – and my body couldn’t do it. I cried a lot, and I yelled about not being able to feel my legs or hold my baby. Worry, anger, sadness, and confusion overwhelmed me. I also had this unusual “I have to stand up and move like I wasn’t just filleted open” feeling. (Turns out that’s not a good idea.)
“Your plan is 100% contingent upon unknown factors”
I feel like I am in a place where I can share some advice.
My experience has made me more open and knowledgeable, and I hope that if you’re in your first pregnancy and a control freak like me, this might be of some help.
The first piece of advice I have is to avoid being stubborn about a plan.
I’m not saying this because “you could fail” or some clichéd line of “nothing goes as planned”. I’m saying this because your plan is 100% contingent upon unknown factors – which happen to include a tiny human. You can’t plan when the whole plan is dependent on a new life entering this world. How could I have planned for my water breaking two weeks early? How was I supposed to know my pelvic bone was too narrow to deliver my child? If I had not had my heart set on some meticulous birthing plan, I have to wonder how would I have felt about that C-section. Perhaps I would have been a bit more happy and calm.
My son is not a child prodigy pianist because I played Billy Joel during my time on the exercise ball while I was in labor. But do you know what he is? Alive. Healthy. A complete busy-body and always in a rush. He is also the most strong-willed little man I have ever met. I wholeheartedly believe that my child, from the moment he was conceived, was destined to be who is he is. He was destined arrive early. He was destined to be strong. Before he was even born, he was destined to show me that I was in no way, shape or form in control of who he would be.
Second, make sure to take time for you and your partner before you have that tiny human in your life.
Take time to explore the world, your changing relationship, and to fall in love again before taking this incredible and humongous journey together. My husband and I were not able to take an elaborate trip, since I was laid off when I was three months pregnant. Instead, a few nights before my water broke, we watched a movie, went shopping and went out for dinner– our version of a miniature stay-at-home babymoon. It was small, it was intimate, but most importantly, it was about us.
In a few months you will be responsible for the life of another living, breathing person. To take care of another tiny, dependent person, you have to take care of yourself. Therefore, take the time for you and your partner, whether it’s at home or away, to focus on yourselves and your love for one another. Stay in for a weekend! Binge-watching everything baby related, get some laughs in, and most of all, spend time with the person that you have decided to raise a child with.
Whether you plan, or plan to not plan… or just don’t care, remember that you are amazing, and you deserve to feel that way. Always.