This past week, my best friend gave birth to her first child — a boy — five weeks early.
She had some suspicions she would go early and had already been on bed rest for a week when her water broke. My little dude and I are going to meet the new arrival at the end of the month, and I cannot wait to get my newborn baby fix.
When I was pregnant, every single website and pregnancy prep book said the same thing, "Make a birth plan."
Who would you call? What would you bring? How would you like medications if you were using them? Basically, please list your ideal plan ... right?
What the books and websites didn’t tell me was that things rarely go as planned.
My vision of a perfect birth was one that came naturally with minimal medical interference. We knew we would have our son at a hospital, the one my doctor was based out of. We took the tour beforehand, and the nurse that gave us our tour would be our postpartum nurse.
That isn’t exactly how it went down, though. By Christmas, I hit the 38-week mark — and I was miserable.
I don’t work from Christmas Eve until the day after New Year’s Day, and the days crawled by. I would sit on the couch or I would drive to Bayshore Mall or Target and walk. And walk. Hoping to get something moving. Finally, by the first week of January, I had had enough and I begged my doctor to induce me.
It was January 5 when my husband and I drove to the hospital and expected to have our sweet little boy.
Again, that isn’t exactly what happened. To spare you all the details, I was in labor for 38 hours before our son was born via emergency cesarean section — something I had never thought would happen to me. I literally skipped over that chapter in the pregnancy books because I was so sure I would walk in, pop out the kid and leave.
Our son was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for tests — I only got to touch his face before he was taken away from me until later the next day.
The rest of the hospital stay, almost a week for all of us, plus the following weeks at home, were consumed with a deep regret about everything that had happened.
I blamed myself, for being so selfish, for forcing our son to come when he wasn’t ready. I struggled with all of the pain I was in and emotions I was going through and I couldn’t find anywhere to turn. Everyone said, "But he is here now and everything will be okay."
It seemed like no one understood.
One place I turned to was an online mom’s forum, there are many out there offered through websites such as Babycenter and What To Expect. I posted how I was feeling and in a matter of minutes, there were many other women who were ready to reach out to a stranger and help me work through what I was dealing with.
An additional resource I found was The International Cesaraen Awareness Network. This site gave me a way to connect with other women who underwent similar situations, as well as pointed me to places to look for more information, such as books and counselors.
Another thing that ICAN gave me was confidence, confidence that my next pregnancy and childbirth would be different. I know now what went wrong, and what I can do to prevent it — if there is a next time.
Most importantly, it took time to heal the wounds of our birth experience. Something that really helped me was writing it all down: getting out all of the emotions and having it out in my own words gave me something tangible to hold onto. This allowed me to put it away and attempt to move on.
Women out there have to know that they aren’t alone. Childbirth has been happening for quite some time now, and there are instances when it doesn’t go as planned, but you have to remember that you didn’t do anything wrong.
Having a plan doesn’t mean that is how it is going to happen.
It means that you will remember to call your mom and pack your special hospital nightgown. Babies, much like life, cannot be planned.