Let me start by saying that I’m a planner.
I love a plan. But if there’s one thing I learned about birthin’ a baby…it’s that it doesn’t always go according to plan.
I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born early in my pregnancy. I decided that I’d like to be under the care of a midwife, with the support of a doula, and do everything I could to have my baby as naturally as possible. I wanted to have my placenta encapsulated just in case the possible benefits were indeed true. I decided to participate in the CenteringPregnancy program to soak in as much information as I could about having my baby naturally.
It turns out the universe had different plans.
The evening before my due date, my water broke. Exciting right? Wrong. It was a really funky color. I texted my doula Jenny, and she recommended that I give my midwife a call. I did, and she recommended I come in right away, especially since I had been in earlier that day and had mentioned that Ruby wasn’t moving as much as usual.
So instead of laboring at home according to plan, we hopped in the car and drove to the hospital.
It was meconium. I was worried that meant a c-section right away. My midwife explained that it doesn’t mean that, but that usually, it’s better to get the baby out sooner than later. We talked about options, and since I wasn’t really contracting at all, we decided to get the party started with Pitocin. Pitocin was definitely NOT part of my plan. But my midwife assured me that I would only have to be hooked up to the Pitocin until my contractions became regular. Then I could be free to roam, move around, or what I was really looking forward to…hop in that tub!
Little did I know I’d have PLENTY of time in the tub.
I had hours and hours of tub time. I’d move from the tub to the bed, then to the toilet, then I’d try to stand and sway, but I always ended up back in my happy place: the tub. There’d been some talk of hoping that Ruby would be out within 24 hours. I wasn’t dilating. She wasn’t moving down. We got out of the tub to try the peanut ball and some other positions to help her come on down. It was the worst. My contractions were right on top of one another and I just wanted to be back in the tub. I was reaching my breaking point. I tried nitrous oxide to get me through the contractions with the peanut ball. It didn’t help and it made me feel nauseous. I just wanted back in the tub. So I got back in the tub.
As I sat there by the light of the Christmas lights that my doula and birth photographer extraordinaire Jenny Fisher had so lovingly hung for me, with my affirmations on the wall, I realized if I’m back in the tub, Ruby isn’t rotating. I knew if I got the epidural, they could do whatever they wanted to me in that bed and maybe she would have a chance to move around and come out. But the epidural wasn’t part of my plan. Real talk: neither was meconium, or Pitocin or coming straight to the hospital with no real contractions.
My plan was falling apart right before my eyes.
It was just me and Matt in the bathroom at this point and I just said, “I gotta get the epidural. So I can rest. So Ruby can rotate. So I can have this baby.” He knew I was serious, and we let the midwife know. I got the epidural and took a glorious nap with the peanut ball. They twisted me. They turned me. They elevated my feet. They did whatever they wanted. I was happy to oblige at this point.
But here’s the thing: nothing worked. She was still up there. This is when we got the news that I had a fever. Fever means infection. And since my water broke over 24 hours ago with meconium present, no one was surprised. That also meant that Ruby had a fever.
My baby, that I hadn’t even met yet, had a fever, and I couldn’t hold her. I hated that feeling.
At this point, my midwife got serious and said, “So at this point, I think we need to discuss that we might be looking at a c-section.” I finished her sentence. “Ok. I figured it might be getting to that point,” I said. She let me know that we had about an hour for them to prep the operating room, so that would buy us some time. She’d come back and check me in an hour, and if I made progress, we could push, but if not, we’d head to the O.R.
When she left the room, it was just me and Matt. I remember saying to him that I secretly hoped that I didn’t progress. I just wanted Ruby out as soon as possible. I didn’t want to try to push because that could take a long time, and she had a fever, and she was in distress, and I just wanted to hold her.
I stopped caring about the plan. I just wanted my baby.
She came back and checked, and I hadn’t progressed. I was wheeled to the operating room, and very soon after I was holding my baby girl. I had a baby. It was not the way I planned, but I had my beautiful baby girl in my arms. It was amazing. It turns out that Ruby had what they call a true knot in her umbilical cord, and it was wrapped around her neck. It’s possible that the knot is what wouldn’t allow her to move down to where she needed to be. True knots only happen in about 1% of babies and can actually be very serious.
So yeah, nothing went according to plan.
In fact, my placenta was also full of infection, so I couldn’t even do that part of the plan. The plan went out the window. But honestly, if you had asked me about my plan when I was finally holding Ruby in my arms 27 hours after we arrived at the hospital, I would have said, “What plan?”