As mothers, we like to prepare for almost anything and everything that could ever happen in the history of the world, especially if you have a Type A personality like me, which includes over-competitiveness, always feeling like you’re racing against the clock, and a lack of patience. We were told to prepare for labor and delivery with a plan that we and our doctor, doula, or midwife could follow. Let’s call this my L&D plan for short. The birth plan is supposed to be something you prepare in advance that includes what your wishes are during the labor and delivery process, such as whether or not you want any anesthesia or to have a natural birth. You can then share this plan with your doctor to make sure they understand your requests.
My OBGYN recommended we watch all our prenatal courses before making our birth plan, that way we would be well informed on all our options. Since my husband and I were pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to attend any prenatal classes in person. We had to watch all the scheduled courses online from the hospital we chose to deliver at.
After watching every required prenatal course we could find through the hospital, I began to draw up my desired L&D plan. I had so many requests and expectations for how I wanted my labor and delivery to pan out. Little did I know that my plan would be shot to hell, and nothing would go as I wanted. Some of my requests included having both my husband and mother present during my labor and delivery process. I wanted my friends and family there after my delivery to come in the room and celebrate the birth of our baby girl. I for sure knew I wanted an epidural, and no way was I going to let anyone make me feel bad about that or try and be a hero. I wanted to be able to have a relaxing environment by wearing my own clothes, listen to music, and watch TV. I wanted to be able to walk around up until the epidural, of course, to help speed up the process. Being a foodie, I knew I wanted to be able to eat and drink throughout as well. I did not want any other pain management medications other than the epidural. I didn’t want to induce labor or contractions or have a C-Section, instead preferring to let it happen naturally.
My wishes were not the only ones to be taken into consideration, though. My husband also had some wishes that he wanted, such as being able to cut the cord after birth. I wanted her to be placed on my stomach immediately after delivery and able to breast feed right after, to get her acclimated. What took us both by surprise though, was that the doctor offered my husband to be able to pull her out once her head and shoulders were free. His face lit up like it was Christmas morning, and he was so excited! To be able to share that story with our little girl when she’s older is going to be an amazing experience, to know that her father was able to assist with her being brought into this world. We knew we were going to need help from the nursery because we were first time parents, so we were expecting to be able to get some good, quality rest in the meantime. Again, our “plans” would not come to fruition.
As time drew closer, the dominos started to fall; we found out through our OBGYN that we would not be able to have my mom present for the labor and delivery process. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, patients were only allowed one person of support during labor and delivery. Strike 1. We were hoping this would change since we had expected my mother to be present during the birth for a long time. Then, we were told the hospital had closed the waiting rooms, which meant that none of our family and friends could be present at the hospital after the birth. Strike 2. This was so sad for everyone, but especially for my husband and I, who were counting on having the support of our family and friends there for this important and joyous day. Strike 3.
I was now down to weekly routine appointments being so close to my due date. I went in Friday morning for my appointment. I told my OBGYN I had been having bad migraines for the last 4 days and they would not go away. I also informed him I was taking a shower the previous night and kept seeing sparkles of light flashing and it continued throughout the night. He took my blood pressure, and it was a lot higher than it usually is, which caused some mild panic to shoot through me. He checked my reflexes, which turned out to have slowed. He was concerned with the swelling and stated I had significant signs of pre-eclampsia and was worried about me having seizures, that I needed to be induced and deliver my baby today. I was 37 weeks, 6 days pregnant. It was not in my birth plan to be induced. I wanted to wait until she was ready to come into this world. He said I could not wait and risk seizures or something happening to me or the baby.
Luckily, my husband was waiting for me in the parking lot. We had our bag for the hospital already packed and the car seat installed for when the time came. I called my husband to let him know I was going to be emitted to the hospital and induced. He was so nervous and excited all at the same time. So began the marathon of that weekend. We waited for what seemed like forever before finally obtaining a room after waiting 5 hours. I had not eaten because we had an early appointment and we had planned on getting breakfast after the appointment. I found out they would not let me eat anything because of the high blood pressure and didn’t know how the delivery was going to go. I was given magnesium sulfate to prevent a seizure from occurring. Then, probably the worst of it all hit us like a ton of bricks; the doctor who was supposed to deliver my baby would not be able to deliver because he wasn’t on schedule and one of the other doctors for the office was on call.
He had put in an order for Pitocin to start contractions, but the on call doctor decided to insert Cervidil because she felt like it would be more natural for my body and cervix to gradually soften and thin on its own. Since fetal heart rate was doing well and my blood pressure was being controlled, I was finally allowed to eat something. After the insertion, which hurt like all hell, everything happened so quickly that I did not get to change into what I had brought to wear to deliver in. I ended up wearing the hospital gown. Again, this was not what we had planned. I asked for the epidural when I was 2 centimeters dilated, but I had to endure the contractions until I was 5 centimeters dilated because there was only one anesthesiologist working in the hospital that early morning, and he was currently with another patient. He said he was the best upon entering the room and said he would be in and out. Well, apparently, he didn’t get the memo, because he ended up having to stick me twice because he didn’t get it right the first time. With all the things going differently than the birth plan, it was nice that some wishes did end up happening. My husband was able to cut the cord and place our baby girl on my stomach after being delivered.
Later that night after our daughter had been born in the afternoon, we were moved to the next floor for mothers and the nursery. The nurses had asked us if we were going to want the nursery to take her for the night so we could get some rest. We had agreed to let the nursery care for her since we were exhausted and had not slept for two days. They took her for an hour and brought her back while we were trying to sleep. The nurse told us she was the loudest baby in the nursery and was waking the other babies. The nurse said if we really needed their help to call and they would come back and get her. We couldn’t get any sleep. We tried for two hours alternating every 5 minutes to comfort her but decided to call the nurse to take her back to the nursery. In the meantime, my husband told me to get some sleep, and he pulled up a chair next to our daughter to care for her while I got some rest. Well I’d be damned, because nobody ever came! The shift had changed at 7 am and the new nurse came in and said “I heard you have the loudest baby on the floor!” The hospital was no help and tried to keep us there another night and we were NOT having it after everything that happened up to this point. Thankfully, both my daughter and I’s test came back good, and we were allowed to leave, not that we would have it any other way, mind you. It took several hours, but we finally got discharged from the hospital and were able to go home with our newborn baby girl.
What can you take from my story? That you can have a plan for how you want your labor and delivery to go, but in the end birth is unpredictable. I’m not saying your birth plan won’t go as planned, but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t. As long as you and your baby are healthy, you won’t be disappointed when that labor and delivery plan you spent time on doesn’t pan out and you get to hold that precious gift in your arms for the first time. It truly is a miracle that cannot ever be outmatched.