When we found out we were expecting another baby I was so excited! The timing was perfect in terms of her due date. My school semesters run from August to December and from January to May, so with a February 22nd due date I would have plenty of time to finish the Fall semester and then relax and prepare for a couple of months. Then I could stay home until August and just focus on being a full time mom 🙂 I had it all planned out in my head. I would finish my finals week on December 13th and then I would have over two months to get the nursery ready, to do craft projects and baby books. To really focus on all of the little things I had set aside while taking classes. Then when it was closer to my due date we would make a call list and all sorts of plans and back up plans for that magical moment when my water broke and Matt panicked and we rushed to the hospital excited to meet our new baby! You know, just like in all of those movies. Then when we got to the hospital I was going to make good use of the hospital tub and more importantly be able to walk and move around the room. When it was time to push I was going to enjoy screaming every curse word I could think/create and hopefully rather quickly we were going to have another beautiful baby after which I would be able to immediately hold her and just relish in all of her precious first moments. After a couple of days of recovery we were going to take our perfect bundle of joy home to our eagerly awaiting little girls and embark on the next chapter of our new lives a family of five 🙂
Sure my expectations sound ridiculous and of course very few labor stories are like this but I very very badly wanted to have that birth experience that they teach you about in childbirth class. You know the class where they say to have open expectations because so many things can happen, but then they go on to drill the most ideal circumstances in your head anyway. So now that you understand my rigid birth plan/fantasy here is what actually happened.
I finished finals as expected on December 13th. Then I started to plan for my two months of preparing for the arrival of our baby. I got 4 days in before I was standing in the kitchen thinking that either my water had just broke or I had just peed my pants like never before. Unfortunately it was neither and instead was blood which naturally prompted a swift drive to the hospital and at least an hour of blind terror before the doctors were able to assure me that the baby was fine. Then came the rush of relief before another rise of anxiety as they explained that I had complete placenta previa and the placenta had started to slowly detach. With that news all of my birth hopes came crushing down because that meant that not only would I have to have a c-section but it would have to be scheduled. I was sent home 48 hours later on bedrest until the c-section would occur in 6 weeks. Again I started to plan, compiling lists of things I could do on bedrest and ways to keep from going stir crazy. Again I made it a few days before I woke up on December 22nd bleeding again and rushing to the hospital again. This time the babys heart rate showed signs of distress so we were told that I would have to have a c-section. After 3 hours of waiting for the OR to be prepped I was brought in and Jacy was delivered. She was 31weeks and 2days. The NICU team of doctors and nurses immediately examined her and brought her to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was stitched back up and brought to my room where I was told that I could see her once the anesthesia wore off which would take at least 4-6 hours.
We were lucky, unbelievably lucky because despite being 9 weeks early Jacy needed minimal help breathing and was able to go home after only 4 weeks in the NICU. Despite this I was heartbroken, a lot of people didn’t understand why I was so sad and would often say to me ‘at least she’s healthy and here’. What they don’t seem to understand is that it’s not that I’m not beyond grateful that she is healthy. And it’s not that I don’t love getting to know her and hold her. It’s that I needed to grieve the loss of my birth plan, I needed to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t get any further in my pregnancy, and that I couldn’t take my baby home, that I had to leave the hospital while nurses and doctors took care of our baby girl. I needed to be sad that I didn’t have her in my arms every night, that I couldn’t laugh with Matt when she peed on one of us, or just enjoy the quiet satisfaction and joy that comes with knowing that your baby is mere feet away from you. I am lucky, and I don’t for a second take that for granted, I know that it could have been so much worse but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt to have this experience. Despite the enormous joy I felt by just having our daughter and by knowing she was safe and healthy, I also was saddened by our unexpected birth plan. That saddness didn’t and doesn’t undermine the love and happiness that I feel because of her but it is still important for me and for others to acknowledge that it exists and it is very real and important to accept and work through. I highly suggest that anyone who knows someone in a similar position remember that just because that person’s baby is here and healthy doesn’t mean that they can’t be sad or upset and instead of just pointing out that they should be looking on the bright side, try asking them whats going on in there mind and how you can help. Acknowledge the good but do it without discrediting or invalidating the bad.