This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.
For the TEN months of my pregnancy I read everything on the Internet about childbirth and babies. The true length of a full term birth was my first surprise. Despite having almost finished a degree in early childhood education my appetite for new information was insatiable. I joined a website that sent daily progress reports describing our growing child (peanut, avocado, grapefruit!). I registered for baby clothes (yellow), natural diapers (slight guilt I was not doing cloth) and I read baby food recipes (talk about future thinking!). Clearly, I was headed down a certain type of path: a path that was upheld by many in San Francisco Bay Area. Still, many of these beliefs are near and dear to my heart. Though we are Bay Area residents my husband and I share some parenting beliefs that are rooted in our upbringing (South/Midwest). We parent by intuition, lengthy discussions, and thankfully my husband’s sense of patience and calm.
We started our pregnancy at a large teaching hospital but when I found out that they did not welcome Doula's in the delivery room I started shopping around. I was in yoga class weekly and hoped to have an unmedicated birth. I was trying to control any aspect of this somewhat daunting task. Part of my desire to seek this hippie / natural / unmedicated birth (complete with birth plan and Doula) came from my lack of direct experience. I never had been in a delivery room (I have no sisters). Most women I knew rarely spoke of labor (growing up in the South we keep those things private). My mother’s labor was an ether-induced haze with a three-day postpartum migraine. I’ve heard that story a couple of times. One really good friend who had a baby needed a C-section and her recovery looked painful and longer than I hoped for.
My research for a new OB pointed me toward Dr. Hamilton. I was told he was someone who would embrace my doula and my way of thinking. At the time his office was in San Mateo, CA. I had a birth plan in hand, over twenty questions and my supportive husband in tow. I was twenty weeks pregnant and we were all squished into one of his eight bustling examination rooms (now his practice is closer to the hospital and in a larger space). He took one look at my plan, my written questions, and me. He said; "How many people are in this world?” I answered, about 6.8 billion…I think (it was 2007). He said; “How many babies mom's got to choose how they were delivered?” I sat silently taking in this man, his wisdom, thinking about the hundreds of baby pictures that had greeted me in the hallways and I knew he would be delivering our baby. Another reason I was there: he is and was one of a few solo practioners left. Also, he was not going on vacation in August! He worked tirelessly to know us and know our pregnancy. He saw me at every visit, returned my phone calls and made me laugh.
On the night of our daughter’s birth the doctor was calm and not cracking jokes. Our daughter’s heart rate was elevated and he wanted me monitored, I had no objection. My labor started at 1:30 pm on August 15. I labored at home for about 12 hours with back labor and my husband cooked brownies (that I would have burnt) during the early parts of the labor. By the time the hospital doors opened I was begging for the IV. I had the doula there to rub my temples with herbs. I was ready for drugs, an IV and gladly accepted whatever the hospital staff encouraged me to do. This was not on my original birth plan, the one I threw away at 20 weeks after my first visit with the OB who helped me go with the flow. Our bundle of joy came into the world right on her due date about 18 hours after the start (while mom enjoyed the benefit of an epidural). The doctor liked our eclectic music labor play list. We delivered a healthy baby girl.
There are many years of taking care of kids left but I think the biggest lesson I received that day from Dr. Hamilton was to let go (way before Frozen existed). Let go of what I had no control over and let go of the idea I will exert much control over this child for the rest of her life. I can be her guide but I don’t make the final plan. I am a positive discipline educator and I try to have parents let go of unrealistic expectations on a consistent basis. Put your own emotional oxygen mask on first (just as they ask you to do in the airplane). Let go of the plan and try to simply live life. I know we all have enough people telling us to “live every moment” and “seize the day” but I am learning something a bit deeper as I continue to develop into a mama. I’m learning to unwind and let go. I am striving less and savoring more moments. I do not hold on tightly to moments nor do I beat myself up when I “phone it in”. I try my best to let the days unfold with kindness and compassion. I try to be ok with the messiness of parenting. It requires a lot of riding the waves and often falling off.
I don’t write this blog to dissuade you from having a birth plan. A plan is a great thing when you go on a trip, you have to look at a map and think about how to arrive at your destination. This blog is about the back roads and the detours. My wish is not that you will have an epidural, an unmedicated labor, Fentanyl, water birth, home birth, or Demerol. I hope you will have a healthy baby! That is my deepest hope for all families who want children. I know deep down we all want healthy babies but we get so caught up in the idea we can control labor, birth, feeding, potty training, keeping hands to self, emotions, tying shoes, riding bikes and on and on that we forget to just pay attention and take care of our selves.
As I type this blog our daughter is days away from becoming a seven year old! I am pouring over pictures and reflecting on this perfect, messy, far from planned ride. I do take a lot of time to “be with” and not try to trick myself into thinking I have the one and only right plan. I think this will keep you headed in the best direction for you and your family. I welcome your comments and I am thankful you read this blog.
- Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle - Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman's life.
- Childbirth: the Ache of Love - Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she new not existed.
- Tax Day 2007 - Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
- Going with the Flow - Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
- My Not-So Natural Birth Story - Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time - but definitely not the last - time.
- The (Not So) Natural Birth Story - Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom's life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
- Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens - Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
- A New Look at the "Perfect" Birth Story - Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the 'perfect birth.'
- Induction Induced Feelings of Loss - The Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
- Our Beautiful Birth Story - Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn't the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
- Jack's Arrival - Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
- Remembering to Breathe - Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.