Even with the best of intentions births do not always go the way we planned. Actually, I am not sure any birth does, but sometimes they are more extremely off plans than others.
My little boy, Finn, was born on May 11 via C-Section.
He was due July 8.
The plan was thus:
- 1- Go into labor at home on or around July 8
- 2- Wait until contractions are close enough together
- 3- Grab our pre-packed go bag and head to the hospital
- 4- Do my best to deny drugs and at all costs avoid anyone sticking a needle in my spine
- 5- Have a vaginal birth
- 6- Start breastfeeding
- 7- Recover for 4-6 weeks at home
- 8- Back to work by mid/end of August
Yea, literally NONE of this happened.
But you’ve probably heard this phrase before:
“Man plans and God laughs”
Now, I don’t love the term “God” personally. There’s a lot inherent in that word that I don’t connect with. But if there is an all-knowing being out there in the universe somewhere then he has been having a good old chuckle watching me try to navigate the past 4 months.
Here’s what happened instead, number by number:
1- Went into labor 2 months early on May 1. Didn’t enter the hospital till May 3 because I was told I was just peeing myself.
2- Contractions started May 1, but then subsided until May 11 (which, in this case, was a great thing). I ended up being in the hospital myself for one and a half weeks because leaving the hospital AT ALL meant putting Finn at risk for an infection (because apparently tons of shit just crawls up your vagina every day?!?!)
3- There was no go-bag ready. Instead, my best friend sprang to action and packed all manner of things into a bag to be carted to Portland so that I had something besides a hospital gown to wear.
4- Right from the get-go we knew he was breech and that I didn’t have enough fluid for him to turn, so since this was my first pregnancy that meant a c-section. Plus, during labor, they didn’t want to give me anything to help with the pain for fear of it slowing down his breathing AND they kept hoping that it was false labor so I couldn’t do any of the things to make labor more bearable (i.e. birthing ball, walking, etc.) So I guess I sorta got half of this one? Though since it ended in surgery, I’m not counting it.
5- …See above.
6- Once he was out he had to stay in the hospital till he could feed himself (among other things, but that took the longest.) Which ended up being four and a half weeks. And research has shown that babies grow best at home, not the NICU. And it’s easier to feed out of a bottle than breast. So we went the easier route and I pumped like crazy so that he could eventually eat out of a bottle (not exclusively). The hope was to transition him to breast exclusively when we got home but it turns out he HAAAAAAATES breastfeeding. My child will probably be an ass man. Or gay. Which I guess also makes him an ass man (ba-dum ching!)
7- My recovery took place in the NICU. Though, this was a blessing in disguise. Because I am sure it’s hard as fuck to try to recover AND take care of a baby 4 days out from major surgery (which is what happens in the US of A.)
8- I’m close on this one. Heading back just after Labor day. But starting two months early makes this a lie too.
So imagine this. There I was, pumping every 2 hours, feeding Finn every 3 through a feeding tube, then a bottle, and having to choose between my husband and my baby every night since both of us couldn’t stay in the hospital room. At the nurse’s suggestion, I went back to where we were staying every night except 2 because they pointed out that we still had quite a road ahead of us once Finn got home. There would be plenty of sleep deprivation in my future.
I cried almost every night I had to leave him. And I cried during the days when they had to nick his heel to test his blood, or move his IV because a vein had blown, or any time he had to endure pain in any way.
And I let myself eat whatever the fuck I wanted. This was a big deal for me, because I’m a health coach so being good about food and fitness are usually my forte. I tried to make generally healthy choices, but I was pumping and emotional and hungry all the time and just couldn’t really get myself to give much of a shit about being perfect with my food. And I just had surgery, so no fitness.
And as I mentioned, Finn didn’t like the boobies. After many “fights” trying to get him to just FUCKING TAKE THE BOOB ALREADY (I never actually yelled at him… don’t worry), I broke down, did some soul searching, got some great counsel, and grieved the loss of my grand plan.
Breastfeeding was a no-go, and I couldn’t keep pumping every 2 hours, feeding him every 3-4, and expect to stay sane.
Honestly, I’m still having a hard time with it. I worry that I gave up too soon. That I became too selfish about the schedule. That a “good mom” wouldn’t choose her emotional needs over the most basic need of feeding her child. How dare I be thinking and stressing about getting back to work when this little nugget in my arms needed my love and attention?
But the fact is, I was so unhappy. My husband, mother, and friends all noticed. Tears were constantly under the surface and, really, that is also not something that a “good mom” should allow.
Nothing went as planned with my birth. I was hoping to do all the perfect mom things, to have this picture perfect moment in life, and instead I was thrown into the turmoil of imperfect solutions and constant self-doubt.
And so, with this piece, I hope to provide myself some relief. And, hopefully, for those of you too who had a perfect “plan” for parenthood. I give myself and you permission to release that frustration and surrender to whatever “higher power” you have. I also give you permission to drink a glass of wine and scream into a pillow when you need.
Because ultimately, your child needs a parent. A parent that loves them, feeds them, changes their diaper, listens when they are sad, and is always ready with a giant hug for their sorrows or a fire to light under their ass when they need to get it together.
We aren’t here to be perfect. We’re here to give love. In the best way we can.
Katie Gall helps people discover the full power of their body’s ability to achieve optimal health, create a habit of self-love, and live in harmony with their body.
Katie Gall is a Health, Wellness and Empowerment Coach. She helps people discover the full power of their body’s ability to achieve optimal health, create a habit of self-love, and live in harmony with their body.