Family, Living

Birth Plans are Useless and Other Thoughts on Childbirth

Oh, hey there, how are you guys doing? It’s me here in real time. I only had a couple of days of pre-scheduled content ready to go for you before there, because, well, I kind of thought I had until this Monday at least until our Baby Bean made his arrival. I don’t know why I assumed things would go according to schedule, but I did. I’ve had plenty of friends have their babies late, so I guess I thought that was more the norm.

The lesson in all this? The best laid plans go right out the window when it comes to babies.

This includes birth plans. People seemed to ask all the time what our birth plan was. How did we plan on bringing this new little life into the world? Who would be there? Who cuts the umbilical cord? What music is playing? All that. I guess there are organized people who plan all that out, but I never got much past “get to hospital and have baby.” Seemed easy enough. Right?

It turns out that people spend a whole lot of time asking you about your birth plan and jotting everything down only to tell you subsequently that it’s all going out the window because of one situation or another. Maybe they’re useful for some women, but I’m pretty convinced they’re useless.

For instance, this wasn’t how I really envisioned welcoming my son into the world.

I don’t know what I envisioned. I was equally afraid of vaginal birth and c-sections, but since a majority of the women in my family either were told they had to have c-sections or were induced and then had a c-section, I figured that was the way to go. So of course, the doctors were telling me they were going to induce and I was going to have to birth little man.

However, life had other plans. I’d been feeling off the last couple of weeks in July, and was getting a little distressed about watching my normally healthy blood pressure climb higher and higher with each trip to the doctor’s office. I cut out salt. I walked. I cautiously kept up my baby aspirin regimen, worried that I was going to harm my son or bring the subchorionic bleeding I’d suffered through during my first trimester. And yet it still kept climbing.

I went in for an appointment with my doctor on July 30th to discuss options. At the time, my little man was sitting either breech or transverse {sideways} and we’d been talking about a c-section. At my exam, we learned that he was head down and ready to go, but my blood pressure was through the roof. My doctor said they’d need to induce soon.

Nervous, I stopped at the lab for some more checks he’d recommended, went home, and started making phone calls to let family, friends, and coworkers know I’d be going into the hospital on August 8th, two weeks early, to be induced.

No sooner did I make those calls than my doctor called me that evening. He’d looked at my labs. And I needed to come in. That night.

I called Scott in a near panic and told him he needed to come home from work NOW so that we could get prepped and get to the hospital. We had to make sure someone could take care of our house, and I called one of our best friends to take care of the furniture movers we had planned for the next day and sign for the grocery delivery I thought I’d be there to take. So much for plans. I called my mother and asked how soon she could come out. She’d been planning on coming out to help us around the 8th, but she immediately booked a red-eye flight for that night.

At 10:00pm, I was admitted to the hospital as planned, but they found my blood pressure was 180/100. Almost immediately, I found myself on a gurney hooked up to an IV full of magnesium and a catheter with instructions to not move or risk seizure or stroke. When the doctors came in to talk to me about options, I was a little horrified to find out they were still talking about induction. Everyone I knew who had been induced had labored forever, and they wanted me to do that when my blood pressure was through the roof? And I was on magnesium, which couldn’t be good for me or for our Baby Bean?

I figured why not skip that mess and go into surgery as close to strong as could be. Although I think what I said was closer to, “Please, just cut him out.”

The doctors talked me through all the risks but in the end, they agreed with me. So in the wee hours of July 31, I was wheeled into the operating room, given a spinal, and laid down on a table with a claustrophobia inducing drape between me and the procedure. Not too long in, an ugly problem I have with anesthesia surfaced. In short, it really doesn’t work on me. I was feeling way too much. So the anesthesiologist dosed me up on ketamine and the doctors went into overdrive, focused on getting little man out and me stitched up before I came back to reality.

Ketamine. It is not something to take lightly, friends. One moment, I was lying on a cold operating table, and the next, I was flying through a tunnel speckled with blue, orange, and gold stalactites following the cartoon Merlin from Sword in the Stone on a vision quest. And when I came back, I was cleaned up, stitched up, and Scott was holding our beautiful little Baby Bean!

He was three weeks early but still 6 pounds 2 ounces and 20 inches long, prompting some of the staff to congratulate me on not carrying him to full term. Some of them thought at full term he would have been a 10 pound baby. As it was, even though he was good sized, he was still late pre-term, so he had to stay in the special care nursery for almost a week after he was born to get his little lungs on track. Longest week of my life.

However, I’m grateful for the nurses there who cared for him and cuddled him, who got me up and walking and holding him, who showed me how to feed him and change him, and managed to get my very reluctant milk supply going {it’s not easy after a c-section at 37 weeks!}.

Now that we’re home, we’re getting used to this whole parenting thing a little bit at a time. My mother has been a godsend, cooking and cleaning and basically taking care of us so we could take care of and bond with our Baby Bean. We’re not sleeping all that much but more than we thought. And Scott got a wonderful two weeks of paternity leave to spend with us. I’m still in a constant state of panic that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I don’t have enough milk or it isn’t high enough quality, that the house temperature isn’t right, and a dozen other things. I think panic is a constant state of mind for parents. And just like pregnancy, parenthood makes me want to tell my parents I’m sorry at least 30 times a day.

More than anything, though, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this beautiful little being entrusted into our care. I’m grateful that despite the way he came into the world, we’re healthy and recovering and bonding just fine. I’m grateful for the medical care we have and the little village of family and friends helping us get him started. Even though nothing has gone according to plan, I’m grateful for it all and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

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