Saturday, October 30, 2010

What to expect? The unexpected!

Dear Delilah,

As your birthday gets closer, I find myself reflecting on my pregnancy with you, and all of the plans I made for your birth. The month or so before you were born was an emotional roller coaster! There were so many ups and downs, some that had to do with my pregnancy, and some that had to do with life in general.

There is a popular pregnancy book called "What to Expect When You're Expecting". My understanding is that it's filled with information about all of the horrible things that can go wrong during a pregnancy. I can't say for sure, since it wasn't among the stack of pregnancy and birth related books I read while anticipating your arrival. I devoured every bit of information I could about natural birth, from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Books, websites, documentaries, magazines, you name it. Your daddy was very involved and learned right along with me.

We began planning for an un-medicated water birth. We wanted you to have the most gentle entry into the outside world possible. We went to the hospital's birth preparation classes, and on the tour of Labor & Delivery, we couldn't help but gloat a little when we arrived at the beautiful, serene, home-like Birth Center Suite, with a birthing tub right in the middle of it, as all of the women who were planning on having epidurals or being induced on a certain date were told that it could only be used for un-medicated births.

We wrote an extensive birth plan, outlining specifics about how we wanted the labor, the delivery, and the period of time immediately following your birth to go. I would not be hooked up to IVs or monitors. I would be free to move around and change positions. My body, not a doctor, would tell me when to push and for how long. There would be no drugs for pain, nor would there be drugs to speed the labor along. You'd be placed on my abdomen immediately for skin-to-skin contact. Your umbilical cord would not be cut until it stopped pulsing. I would keep my placenta. I would initiate breastfeeding before you were weighed/measured/bathed/etc.

The hospital was on board with our birth plan. Then we found out that you were breech. The hospital would not allow vaginal deliveries of breech babies. Operation: Turn Delilah began. I tried every technique I could find to turn breech babies around. I spent time every day in inverted positions. I saw a chiropractor for a specific baby-turning technique. She reassured me that she had a 90% success rate at getting breech babies turned around. I did self-hypnosis and visualization. I made your daddy hold burning moxa sticks by my toes. I put ice packs where your head was. I talked to you.

I begged and pleaded with you to put your head down, so you could have the gentle, natural birth you deserved. My memories of this aren't all bad, by any means. I can still remember exactly where your head was, right beneath the right side of my rib cage. I would rub your head and talk to you, tell you how much I loved you already, and how I couldn't wait to meet you.

I began to develop an "in case of cesarean" birth plan, just in case. I was still confident that you would turn. I refused to schedule your birthday. I wanted you to have every opportunity to turn. I wanted, so badly, for your birth to be as nature intended. It was not to be.

As it turned out, for reasons unknown, you had very little amniotic fluid and your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck several times. It wasn't that you were being stubborn and just wouldn't turn, you couldn't turn. Eventually, I'll write to you about your birth story in its entirety, but for now, I'll summarize: You were born by cesarean delivery, by a competent, kind, respectful surgical staff. There was no immediate skin-to-skin contact. There was no waiting to cut your cord. There was no placenta encapsulation.

While it was the polar opposite of everything I'd planned for, this was the best moment of my life:

Throughout that experience, I learned one of the most important lessons there is to learn about parenthood. There is no "What to Expect". There is no perfect plan. We must expect the unexpected, and plan for the un-planned. It's good to know what our preferences are, it's good to have goals, it's good to have a vision of how we want life to go. However, the more we cling to those things, the more we expect them, the harder it is when things don't go according to plan. Life is full of curve balls, and you, my dear, have proven to be the sharpest curve ball of them yet!




  1. WOW Joella - I knew about the birthing room plan and that was about it. When I get prego - someday - I will be calling you to find out more about all the natural stuff. I am glad that Delilah was born healthy. And its weird how in life we want things a certain way - but God has other plans. I am just glad Delilah is ok. I would love to know about the pulsating umbilical cord and also the placenta. I heard you should save the umbilical cord for some medical reason that your child may have down the road? I am really not read up on all of this. This was a great blog to read. You have the best mommy Delilah.


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