My good friend Danielle is one of those people who likes a well planned life and she isn’t a fan of spontaneity. When we worked together I would joke about Danielle’s use of spreadsheets. An event may have 4 just in case options. I am unsure if she has ever used the term ‘wing it’. This isn’t a bad thing in her career mind you, just a little harder to work with in motherhood.
Organisation and clarity are how she likes to roll but as she discovered becoming a first time mum sometimes the best laid plans can be way-laid very quickly…
Some people call it Control-Freak-OCD, I just call it organized. Whatever you call it, the fact I had my hospital bag (s) packed and ready at 31 weeks pregnant was just one part of my master plan for the birth of my first baby. So it’s funny that I was actually shocked when labour commenced right on 38 weeks, just like I’d planned. But that’s where the best laid plans started unravelling….
But let’s take a step back first.
From the beginning of my pregnancy I was determined I would not be overdue. My target was 38-39 weeks. Why was I so set on something I really had no control over? Because that’s just how control freaks are! I wanted family bonding time at home before out of town visitors arrived. I wasn’t keen on birthing a big baby. I’m impatient. And if you’re into numbers like me, I wanted the awesome birth date of either 05.05.15 or 15.05.15.
So very early on, our couch became a permanent bookshelf as I studiously read up on all manner of subjects. There were regular consultations with a close family member who is a midwife about what to expect in the labour room. I could hardly wait for the one antenatal class offered at our small regional hospital and we were ‘that’ couple who asked three times the questions than anyone else. Once I finished work at 36 weeks I found plenty of things to fill the time and prepare the house – even including sticking labels on the washing machine so that well-meaning relatives would use the right cycle when they inevitably offered to help with the laundry.
My carefully planned (natural) labour induction strategy was:
- Week 34 and onwards: Raspberry leaf tablets daily (1 per day week 34/35; 2 per day 36 weeks onwards)
- Week 37: Acupuncture, massage, Chiropractor
- Week 39: Labour inducing acupuncture
With early labour pains commencing on the 4th May (37 + 6 weeks), despite the initial shock that it might actually be happening, I also couldn’t believe my luck with the dates! Initially things started well, pacing the house, counting through contractions and using all of the hot water standing in the shower to ease the pain.
However despite my best laid plans, contractions weren’t establishing into a set rhythm and after 12 hours of pain we went to the hospital. It wasn’t long before any birth plans went out the window and something we’d never even discussed – pages in books I’d just flicked past and disregarded – was being thrust upon us. An emergency Caesarean.
From there it was a control freak’s worst nightmare. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. What was about an hour of preparation passed in what felt like about 2 mins. All of a sudden I’m signing consent forms endorsing ‘life saving procedures’ like blood transfusions or an emergency hysterectomy, with all of about 5 seconds to consider what that might entail. But I didn’t have to anxiously linger on that thought too long because then one nurse is shaving me while the other is putting the world’s tightest DVT socks on me, and yet another putting me into a gown – all while I’m having another contraction… And just as we put all our faith and trust into the nurses and doctors who’ve brought us this far on the journey, it’s 7am shift change time so we’ll be having an entirely new nursing team once in surgery. They assure us they’ll be equally as good but it’s another unknown in a scary situation.
While all this goes on hubby tries to relay the update to family, move the car from the ambulance park we parked it in when we arrived, and he tells me later he makes about five nervous pee stops while he waits outside the theatre to be allowed in and surgery to start. I meanwhile had been rolled down the hallway to theatre for the final preparations, where they spring on me having to drink a nasty salty solution to counterbalance the acid in my stomach. For a girl who cannot even drink 30ml of a nicely mixed shot in a bar, it was a rude shock and I sipped on it like a sook while the whole theatre full of doctors and nursing staff waited. Then just the small matter of the epidural being inserted in my back, and we’re ready to go. Legs all tingly and quickly numb, hubby is allowed in and sits beside me as they commence. I lie there completely overwhelmed and shake my head a few times not quite believing where I am, what’s happening, and what’s about to arrive. My teeth are chattering with nerves and if it could, my whole body would be shaking too. I’ve got a permanent lump in my throat, a ball of emotions – scared and anxious about the surgery, scared and anxious that the baby is okay, scared and anxious that I’m about to be a mum (ok that emotion has been a staple for nine months now). Deep underneath is a childlike excitement that helps balance it all out and make everything manageable.
The surgeon – obviously experienced in handling the tightly wound up balls of emotional wrecks that are first time parents going through an emergency caesar – made plenty of small talk on the most frivolous of topics and within ten minutes the nurse was announcing the baby was about to arrive.
A wave of relief, quickly followed by wonderment, rushed over me. That cry was music to my ears and while the fluid-dripping-alien-like first sighting of my daughter was a bit weird she was soon on the table with the midwife having those first tests before her beaming Dad was proudly trimming the umbilical cord. I lay there craning my neck to watch on and the sea of emotions overflowed and trickles of tears ran down my cheeks. Soon enough she was placed on my chest and raw emotions really set in. I’m sure I was babbling away with all the excitement of a kid after his first roller coaster ride mixed in with the joy of a teenage girl after her first crush smiles back at her.
Soon enough I was being wheeled back to my room and – DAH DAH – I’m a Mum! A whirlwind followed, and nothing like what I expected or prepared for, but then nothing could have prepared me for the instant love we felt for this little squawking creature. Which I think was the only remedy for the pain and ongoing recovery of a caesarean.
It took a few weeks of soul searching, contemplation and a dose of well balance sense and sensibility to make peace with it all. I was frustrated that I couldn’t be my normal energetic and independent self, and I felt like I’d missed out on such an important part of motherhood – a natural birth. Contemplating the long recovery only made it worse, and hearing friends stories of their natural births brought pangs of jealousy.
And so, with time to have digested the whole thing, what can you learn from my best laid plans that never got a chance to come to fruition?
- If you have a Birth Plan, make sure you write a Plan A, Plan B and especially Plan C-section. If you don’t have a Birth Plan, at least read up on all the options so you’re not caught by surprise at any quick changes in the birthing suite.
- Try not to set your mind on any one particular birthing pathway because in the moment you will just want to go with whatever equals a healthy outcome for yourself and bub- and that could be very left of field from your original plan. And you don’t want to waste any precious minutes once you have a new baby to ogle worrying or regretting what happened in the birth suite.
I am at peace with it now and totally focused on a healthy baby and recovering my own body as best and quickly as I can. The total and complete love for an adorable brand new baby helps greatly!
Danielle Krista became a Mum last month, and is a freelance writer and hobby florist in her (ever decreasing!) spare time. With a professional career in Public Relations and tourism spanning almost 15 years, she is enjoying the freedom to rediscover creative writing in a new field, as well as lapping up the new challenge of being a mum to gorgeous Charlotte Rose.
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