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How I Became a Mother: When Things Don’t Go as Planned

After the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant after ten years of trying, I began to plan every detail of my birth. I found a midwife and birth center at eight weeks pregnant, hired a doula at twelve weeks, wrote my birth plan at twenty-four weeks. I even planned the song that would be playing when my son made his appearance. In my mind, labor would be quick, painful, and, other than the new addition to our family, uneventful.

 At 41 weeks, my back began to ache. I talked to my doula, and we decided that my body just was preparing for the work of labor. At 5:30 A.M. on the second day of my forty-first week, my water broke. I called my midwife and doula and since my contractions were mild, we all decided that I should rest. So I went back to bed. I kept thinking about how easy this was. My dream birth was happening!

I had an appointment at the birth center that day just to make sure that my water had actually broken and that my son was okay. I was sure that we would be sent home to labor. However, my husband insisted that we pack my “go” bag just in case. Thank God he did! After talking to the midwife, we checked my blood pressure. At this moment, my birth plan fell apart. My blood pressure? 180/101. Because of my dangerously high blood pressure, I had to be transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center immediately. I was devastated. I wanted my birthing tub and my midwife and my plan. I’ve never cursed or cried in front of (or at) sweeter people than at that moment. 

Fourteen hours into labor, found us in a birthing room at Vanderbilt. My blood pressure was now 120/80 — out of the danger zone. But I had to be under constant monitoring, so no birthing tubs. A few hours later, the midwife on call came in to let me know that my water had been broken too long without any progress. I would need to be induced.

I was given Piton, and my cervix still wasn’t moving much. They bumped my Pitocin up to 6, and my contractions FINALLY started picking up. Contractions began coming every 90 seconds lasting for a full minute. When I began passing out in the thirty seconds between contractions, my husband and mother mentioned getting an epidural. I didn’t want to let this go. Desperately, I wanted some part of the birth I had been planning for months. But I couldn’t do it. My body and mind and heart were spent. 

After getting my epidural, we (my family and doula) were able to sleep for a few hours until my room suddenly filled with more medical staff than I had ever seen in one room. As the nurses put an oxygen mask on my face, the attending OB/GYN began explaining that my son’s heart rate had fallen from 150 beats per minute to 40 beats per minute. They were able to get his heart rate back to normal, but they would need to do internal monitoring. If his heart rate dropped again, I would be prepped for a c-section immediately.

At 9.5 cm, I was terrified. This not only NOT my dream birth — this was a nightmare. After a 36-hour roller-coaster ride, I became a mother. My son came after 4 pushes and weighed 9 pounds, 3 ounces. He measured 21 inches long. My little boy proved better than I ever imagined (even if my birth was not). He was worth the wait and struggle.

My birth was not the one that I planned. It took several months to process the emotional stress I experienced and fully grasp that a birth with a healthy baby and mama is the only kind of birth that matters. My birth taught me to trust God more and plan a little less. In the long run, I believe it helped me parent better. Because I now more clearly understand that some things we just cannot control. 

What did your birth story teach you? Do you think you’re a better mother because of that lesson? 

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