Friday, November 13, 2015

the best laid plans.

My daughter's birth did not go to plan. 

This may not seem too significant, especially if you've given birth before. Babies tend to come when they're ready and they come however they are meant to come. This isn't news. Maybe what is significant is how important plans are for me. And this plan felt like the most important of them all. 

I've talked before about how the unknowns make me feel. When I face unknowns, I tend to do lots of research and come up with a game plan so that I feel somewhat in control of whatever lies ahead. My birth experience was the ultimate example of this. I spent almost every free moment of my pregnancy researching birthing methods and coming up with my birth plan. Every decision represented hours of time spent reading and asking questions to other moms and getting feedback from doula friends and nurse friends and poring over pregnancy forums. 

My birth plan specifics were simple; I wanted to be free to labor for however long it took my body and my baby without the staff suggesting augmentations or pain relief. I didn't want interventions. I didn't want pain relief. I wanted to be able to move around and choose positions that felt natural and be able to breathe my baby down. And I wanted her to be born into a calming atmosphere free of harsh lighting and loud voices. I wanted a sacred birth experience. 

And then I went into actual labor. And one by one my plans fell through. 

I was allowed to birth for however long it took, unfortunately she was taking far too long. She spent hours and hours making her way slowly and facing the wrong way, so every contraction brought intense back pain with it. Then the contractions were so powerful that her heart rate started dropping and I had to be given a medication that stopped my contractions in order to give her a break. Mine was not a gentle labor, it was intense and powerful and sometimes terribly frightening. We went several rounds of heart rate dropping then stabilizing, then a few hours and many powerful contractions later and I would get checked to see how far along I was and almost no progress would have been made.

I finally, reluctantly, requested an epidural that provided sweet relief, but limited my movement and my urge to push, so then I requested that it be turned off. Once it wore off, the contractions were so intense and her heart rate dipped so low that, somewhere in the fog of pain, I realized there were tubes and wires and a room full of people in scrubs staring at a heart rate monitor as nurses turned me and pulled me to find a position she could tolerate. The epidural went back on to give us both a break and finally, at the doctors gentle suggestion, we decided to deliver via cesarean. 

And just like that, my birth plan was over. And now, she would not be born into my gentle, quiet arms; she would be removed from me under the harsh light of an operating table by masked surgeons while I waited behind a curtain. My heart broke for all the plans that were crumbling around me and I wept for the unknown of a surgery and recovery that I had never even considered. I laid in that hospital bed with my Mom on one side and my husband on the other and wept. I cried because nothing had gone the way I had carefully planned. I cried because I felt like a failure, unable to push through the pain and birth my daughter like the warrior woman I had envisioned myself to be. I cried because I thought I was cheating my husband out of witnessing his first child's birth the way it was meant to be. I cried because I was exhausted and worn down and scared and even though I knew that it was the right thing to do for our daughter, it still felt so defeating. I cried because I thought her birth was no longer sacred. 

But there was one thing I could not have planned for: the moment I heard our daughter cry. 

In one singular moment, when I heard the sound I'd been waiting those long nine months to hear, every plan that fell through, every feeling of defeat and failure, every ounce of energy I had poured out that day, every aching muscle and my aching heart fell into a deep peace and suddenly none of it mattered. The sound of that robust cry coming from the other side of that blue curtain was my first sweet taste of motherhood and I drank it in with so much joy. Under the bright lights of an operating table, hooked to tubes and wires and in a room full of people in scrubs, I experienced the sacred birth I had hoped for and so much more.  

My daughter's birth did not go to plan. It was my crash course in my new life as a mother. It was the very beginning of balancing my plans for my daughter and for our life as parents with the harsh reality that sometimes, despite my best efforts, things just don't go as planned.  

But sometimes when the plans fall through and life happens the way it was meant to happen, it is more sacred and more beautiful than I could have imagined. 

1 comment:

  1. First off, seeing you write the words "my daughter" is just magical. Makes my heart skip a beat. You did the furthest thing from give up. You worked for hours and hours, laboring with your sweet girl. You are unbelievably strong, and you better believe I'm going to tell Eva what an incredible woman and friend you are every chance I get.

    I like to think you're texting Katy and I while you're sitting on the ball in the first picture. Even if you're not, can you just tell me you are.

    Also, you're going to have to rethink a blog title. :)

    Love you!