Then, It Happened: My Failed Birth Plan

It happened–I was pregnant!

After trying, we finally had our prayers answered: we were expecting! I couldn’t believe it… even after the three pregnancy tests I had taken that morning. (Please tell me I’m not the only one that has done this?) I called my husband and asked him to come home for lunch, as there was just no way I could wait until he got home from work. Unfortunately, he was busy and did not think he had time. Fortunately for me, he could also hear something in my voice that told him it didn’t matter he was busy—he needed to come home immediately! So he did (thank you, hubby!). I showed him the tests, and we happily started day dreaming, making plans and doctor visits and Pinterest boards.

I spent hours each day thinking of the precious life growing inside me. Was the baby a boy or girl? Who would they look like? What would their personality be like? I ate right, exercised, downloaded the apps, signed up for classes, toured the hospitals, and bought the books. We found out she was a girl, and I lovingly made pink frosting-filled cupcakes to announce to the family. I spent hours reading mommy blogs and What To Expect. I was going to be prepared! I began to dream of what labor would be like for us, and what her birth was going to be like. I began to prepare my birth plan.

birth plan

Then, it happened…

I failed my one hour glucose test, and then my three hour. I was blind-sided. I had virtually none of the “risk” factors of gestational diabetes, how could this happen to me? What was I going to do now? Was the precious baby girl inside me going to be okay? I cried that night (and if I’m being honest, pregnancy hormones caused tears quite a few other nights, too!) to my husband. I felt guilty even though it was completely out of my control. Over time, I learned all I could about gestational diabetes through classes, doctors’ appointments, support groups, and more research (it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be as a scared first time mom!). I learned how it occurs (no, I didn’t eat too many brownies…), how to handle it, and I did my best.

Then, it happened…

I couldn’t control my glucose through strict diet and exercise, so I had to go on medication.  I remember the first time I gave myself an insulin shot, I was shaking. I gave myself four shots a day, and checked my blood glucose seven times a day. It was constantly on my mind. Even with medicine, I still followed a strict diet and exercise regime—it felt like that was all I thought about. Furthermore, with being medication-controlled, it meant more frequent doctor visits—two or more a week, to be precise. At every visit, my little girl was healthy and active! It was so nice to have the reassurance I was doing everything I could, but there was still a nagging voice in the back of my mind… this was not going as I had hoped.

birth plan
Photo by Seneca Epley Photography

Then, it happened…

I was told it was best that I be induced a week early. Induced, and early?! That definitely wasn’t a part of my plan. In fact, that was the furthest thing away from my plan! I knew the risks of induction. I also knew that with an induction, more interventions tend to happen, and I was worried. I had heard an induced labor can mean more medication, more intense contractions, and a higher risk of cesarean section, which was the last thing I wanted. I have a great doctor though, and I trusted her judgement 100%. So after weighing the pros and cons, I decided to proceed. In order to keep my little girl safe, it was best to have her a little early.

The day I went in to be induced was a whirlwind of emotions—I was excited, scared, hopeful, and nervous. Was everything going to be okay? Would I be an okay mom? Had I made a mistake agreeing to be induced? Would I be able to stick to my plan? I wondered if I had done enough research, and I prayed that I would make the right decisions when needed. I clung to that plan with both my hands, as if having it near me meant things would be okay.

By the next morning, I was in labor and progressing nicely on my own. While I did need to continue to monitor my glucose, which was up and down all day, I did not need any further interventions. Contractions were strong and coming every 2-3 minutes. I was so happy that things were going my way finally! She was going to be here soon, or so I thought. Hours passed.

Then, it happened…

While I had progressed on my own and was complete, after hours of pushing she still wasn’t here. I was exhausted—pushing every 3 minutes for over 3 hours was wearing my body out quickly. I began to feel as though something wasn’t right, which looking back seems odd—how did I know what it should feel like? My doctor explained to me what was happening—and that it was completely up to me, but that my sweet baby girl was beginning to struggle. She was stuck, my pelvis not quite deep enough for her head to pass as easily as it should. Although you could just about see her, she was stuck and her heart rate was periodically dropping with contractions. I was weak and shaking. In my heart, I felt we needed to do something. I had failed. My birth plan I had so tightly held was out the window, and instead I clung to my husband’s hand while he told me it was going to be okay. We took a deep breath, and signed the papers for a c-section. I felt heart broken and as if I “couldn’t” do it; yet I knew she was going to be safe, and she was going to be here soon.

Then, it happened…

Within half an hour, just over 24 hours after I had gone into active labor, I heard her cry. My sweet baby girl lay down on my chest for the first time, with the help of the nurses. Shaky and weak, I now clung to her, smiling up at my husband—we did it! Then they whisked her away with my husband, and it hurt to see them go; I was wheeled over shortly after to meet them in recovery.

A piece of paper did not define me; I hadn’t failed as a mother. I had sacrificed my body for nine months to give her everything she needed as I carried her, and I wasn’t about to stop.

birth plan

Then, it happened…

She was placed skin to skin, nursed for the first time, and I knew. I knew my birth plan had gone just the way it was supposed to. Never mind that it didn’t follow my as-close-to-natural, carefully-researched plan. It was our story that we will always remember: we had a healthy mom, a happy dad… and the most precious gift, a healthy baby girl. While things may not have gone as I originally planned, I found a way to forgive myself.  While, yes, I wish I could have brought her into this world the way I see best, I brought her in the way that was best for her at the time.

A piece of paper did not define me; I hadn’t failed as a mother. I had sacrificed my body for nine months to give her everything she needed as I carried her, and I wasn’t about to stop. I had risked my life, too, as I lay on that operating table to make sure she was safe. Recovery may have been a little more difficult, and there are questions I still have, but we are blessed to live not only in the era of the internet, but to live here in the corridor–where there are many resources available to us mamas through businesses, networks, and groups to guide us through birth, postpartum, and future pregnancies.

Whether you went drug-free, or had an epidural.

Whether you researched for hours, or went with the flow.

Whether you followed your birth plan all the way down to the song that was playing, or your birth plan went out the window like mine…

The birth of your child is nonetheless one of the most breathtaking moments in your life. Let go of that lingering mommy-guilt for not having the “perfect” birth. Give permission to forgive yourself, and rejoice in the gift you were given and the strength and love you felt the day your child was born, and the love that continues to grow. Every story is different… it is beautiful, and it is yours.

Tell me—did your birth go as planned? What would you do differently? If it did not go as planned, when were you able to forgive yourself and be at peace with the way your birth went?


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