When I found out my husband and I were going to have a baby, I got ready! I sought what I felt would be the best prenatal care with an excellent midwife, read a small library of books, prepared the nursery, took amazing care of myself, ate well, rested, did yoga, practiced hypnobirthing… I was prepared for my baby, so prepared. I was not prepared, however, for the way I would feel after the birth. The way I would feel when everything went “wrong”. I believed to the very core of my being that everything I worked for would happen just the way I envisioned it simply because I believed it. It didn’t.
I did not expect to reach 43 weeks of pregnancy and have a hospital induction. I did not expect the have a scarred cervix that would refuse to dilate for the better part of three days. Even after 43 weeks of pregnancy I did not expect a 9 lb, 6 oz baby or cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)(http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/cephalopelvicdisproportion.html) or a c-section. I was so convinced I would be having a med-free natural water birth that I only skimmed those other sections in my pregnancy books. I did not expect my perfect pregnancy to have such a dramatic climax. I believed wholeheartedly that all the things I worked so hard for would come to fruition. I mean, I had a plan, a birth plan!
As it turns out, it’s hard to plan nature. My cervix did eventually dilate to a full 10 cm and I pushed. I pushed for hours. I pushed until I lost consciousness, only to wake up with the next contraction and push again. When the decision for a c-section was finally made, I knew in my heart, it was time. The doctor that performed our surgical birth informed me that I had a true case of CPD, and I never would have birthed my son naturally. Yet, through all this, my boy never faltered. His heart rate remained steady, his breathing was excellent, and his apgar score was perfect.
And then, we amended our “plan”. I was immediately allowed to touch and kiss my baby. He went directly to my husband who cared for him while I was being stitched up. Our baby was never without one of his parents. My husband brought him to me as soon as I was out of the operating room, before I even made it to our hospital room, where we continued with rooming-in as planned.
When we returned home, I struggled with a lot of negative feelings about our birth and the disappointment I felt at having “failed”. We also had breastfeeding complications that only compounded the feeling of failure. Then, I started reaching out. I sought support and began to heal, but simply being with my son and keeping him close has had the most healing effect of all.
If your birth does not go according to “plan”, do not despair, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with compassion. Natural parenting is not an “all or nothing” concept. The “plan” can be amended.