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Thursday, April 4, 2013

I thought I had everything planned exactly...

When I was pregnant with my first child, I really did think that I had planned for every possible happening and had a birth plan available for each and every possible circumstance. But then life happened, and all my planning went out the window.

I had originally intended that I would go to the hospital (in labor of course) and have my baby as drug-free as possible. As a matter of fact, I had wanted to go to a birthing center at the very beginning, but I didn't like the rudeness of some of the workers there and decided there was no way I could deal with them during my important journey. My doctor was fine with the drug-free approach, and everything seemed pretty normal. I had birthing plans for all sorts of scenarios: One for in case I just couldn't take the pain and asked for immediate pain relief, one for if I couldn't take the pain and it was too late for an epidural, one for if I had to go into surgery for some reason, one for if my water broke and there was meconium... they went on and on. It was quite the digest of crazy-new-mom plans. Unfortunately, God has a sense of humor and sent me one that I didn't see coming.

I never went into labor.

That's right. Never happened. However, my water did decide to break as I was sitting up in bed one morning. I was frantic to get to the hospital, not just because of the fact that I was unsure if it was unsafe for the baby, but because my mom had told me the baby would probably come within a half hour if my water had broken. I was expecting ferocious labor pains to kick in at any minute.

They didn't.
So happy to hold my first baby!

I spent fourteen hours at the hospital while confused nurses and doctors kicked my pitocin drip up to higher than usual, telling me that I should be feeling the contractions that they were seeing on the screen. I couldn't feel any of it.

Finally the doctor told me that I could wait around some more and see if my labor would kick in, but the longer the baby stayed in there, the riskier it was for him. The only other option was the dreaded c-section. I had never, ever wanted a c-section. It was far down on my list of possibilities for having my baby. And yet there it was. I could either have the c-section or risk harming my little buddy. I chose the c-section.

A few hours later, as I was holding my beautiful son, I contented myself with the thought that lots of women have c-sections and go on to have perfectly normal births. I made myself a promise that the next one would be a natural birth if at all possible.

"Whaddya mean I'm getting a sister?!?"
Fast forward two and half years, and I was nearly in the same predicament. I had carefully planned for my daughter's birth: I was going to use a birthing center, no drugs, and labor in a whirlpool to ease the pains. Again, I got sent a curve ball. About half-way through my pregnancy a woman hit the side of our car in an accident, and the resulting pains to my pelvic, hip and back area left me in a lot of pain. There were even a few days my husband had to help me to the toilet (so embarrassing). I actually had a nurse practitioner at the health department laugh at me when I asked about birthing options.

"You're getting a c-section, that's your option," she glibly told me, "You don't have the range of motion for anything else. You can barely walk, how would you push?" I realized at the time she was right, even though I didn't want to hear it. I found myself a good doctor who was skilled at c-sections and resigned myself to the surgery. And even then I got a surprise. I found out the day before I went in for the surgery that this particular hospital keeps the baby in the nursery for a minimum of an hour right after you have the baby.

Lovin' our skin-to-skin time.
I went crazy. I fumed, crying to my husband and getting mad at the doctors. I swore up and down that I would write letters and complaints a million times over as to what a terrible hospital they were. How dare they take my baby away from me at such a crucial moment?

I stayed up late into the night, printing off material from brochures and books on the internet, tidbits of information I thought my archaic hospital must not know. I might have even yelled at a few optimistic friends on Facebook. (Sorry guys <3)

"No pictures of the starlet today please."
But after I got to the hospital and demanded (yes I demanded) to see the director of nursing... she completely disarmed me by agreeing with me. I was surprised. I had expected a fight, not an empathetic ear! She told me that she had recently had her baby at the hospital too, and couldn't believe that they still practiced like that.

"Everyone knows these days that it's important to develop skin-to-skin contact at the very beginning!" she told me.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry, I had been about to tell her that in my mini-rant. I quietly hid my book-o'-knowledge that I had printed up and asked her if there was anything that could be done.

"Well," she told me, "I'm in the process of changing the way that works. But because it still has to be approved by the board, I can't go around it yet and forego the hour in the nursery. What I can do though, is let you hold your baby for a while before they take you to a recovery room."

It wasn't what I had hoped for, but it was better than not seeing my little girl at all!

My baby girl was born about half an hour later, and I got to hold her for nearly thirty minutes before they took her to the nursery. And of course my husband was allowed to go with her. I insisted to him that I would be fine on my own and charged him with watching our new baby's every move. I didn't want her out of our sight. She was ours, after all.

The time passed, even though it seemed agonizing at the time (it still makes me feel heartsick to think about), and our little sweetie didn't seem to mind. She was more than happy to nurse as soon as she got back, and even opened one eye to take a peep at me. 'Don't worry, mom,' she seemed to say, 'I know what I'm doing here.'

Lil' guy is so happy to be a big brother!
At this point, I've decided that there are no plans when you have a baby. It just happens how it happens, and there is no amount of planning you can do that will cover every occasion. Am I sad that I didn't get to experience the physical side of delivering a baby? Disappointed that I may never know what it's like to shout, "It's time!" to my husband? Of course I am. I think about it a lot. But then I remember how surprising life can be, and I think that maybe my chance hasn't passed just yet.

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