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The Dream That Changed My “Birth Plan”

The other night I had a dream that I think will change the way I think about birth forever.

My husband and I were at home, doing our best to work through my contractions as long as possible before heading to the hospital. My water hadn’t broke and we were walking around the house, I was bouncing on our exercise ball (using it as a birthing ball) in and out of a warm shower, and my husband was helping me the whole way through. Finally we decided to go to the hospital to see how far along I was since the contractions were strong and close together. I was hoping my pain tolerance was stronger than most and that we’d get there learning I was close to fully dilated.

When we arrived at the hospital they sat me down and checked me. I was dilated to 6cm. Not bad. I was just worried they’d tell me I was something like a 3 and that they couldn’t check me in yet. I remember hearing that situation with a few of my friends and wondered if my pain tolerance would be at their level.

They wheeled me into a delivery room where I labored some more. My contractions were strong but I was trying my best to resist the need for pain medication. I figured if I could say no to that I might as well say no to everything else.

Every time the nurses came in they would check me and offer me some sort of intervention: Pitocin, breaking my water, epidural. I was worried if I gave in to one I’d be “trapped” into the rest leading to a c-section… Which I really didn’t want.

I did reluctantly agree to them putting a set of “headphones” on my belly which was suppose to track my baby’s heart beat. They said that would help them monitor the baby and let them know if anything was going wrong. I wondered why they needed constant monitoring when a doppler now and then could do the trick but I didn’t argue too much.

After a little while a nurse mentioned that my baby’s heartbeat was going down every time I had a contraction and I mentioned that could be normal and was no reason to sound an alarm.

When she left, I pulled my husband over and told him we’d better watch out and make sure we don’t feel rushed into anything. I laid in bed for awhile when nurses started to come in.

For some reason they started to wheel my bed into another room. My husband followed behind and I told him to keep an eye out. I said I was worried they were going to put me to sleep and cut me open when I didn’t know. He promised me he wouldn’t let that happen and he’d stay right next to me, and no mater what, we wouldn’t get a cesarean.

They pushed my bed into a room with a machine that looked like a cat scan machine, and my practice’s midwife was there to greet me. She told me there was something wrong with my baby. At first I was thinking it was some kind of ploy, but then she turned on a big TV with an ultrasound image of my baby and she didn’t look human at all. She looked like she had a bird-shaped skull, and a dinosaur-like spine and as if she was overgrown and completely deformed.

The midwife told me my daughter had pinkscriptocytosis (no idea where that came from but it was the word I remember from my dream). My eyes began to swell and my train of thought shifted completely.

“Is she going to be ok?” Was all I could manage.

My midwife went on to tell me what that condition means and that she could maybe learn to walk around the age of five…

Everything else she was saying wasn’t sinking in. I just kept staring at the image of my baby and wondering what I did wrong. What did I do? I thought I had been safe, healthy, careful. All I could do was blame myself. I also wondered why we didn’t detect this earlier but mostly wondered how in the world we’d get her here safely.

I was so angry for worrying so much about doctors taking advantage of me and for not worrying about how my baby was doing and how healthy she’d be once she got here. I was so worried about being “tricked” that I missed something. All I could do was cry.

I woke up completely startled, sweating, scared, and confused. I was shaking as I tried to digest what I had just been through, or thought I had been through. My LittleLady bug was kicking in my stomach, as if she was telling me she’s ok.

I went to the bathroom still thinking about the dream, reminding myself it WAS just a dream and that my baby girl is just fine. It was about 3am and I did my best to go back to sleep. It wasn’t easy.

My husband woke up from my restlessness and I told him I had a bad dream. He asked me what about but I didn’t feel like going into details.

In the morning I woke him up to tell him the full story and tried to sort out my thoughts with him.

We frequently discuss birth and how we’d like it to go, but also the way some corporate systems work. We’re well aware of the fact that not everyone in the medical field is truthful. Last year we had a horrible experience with a newly graduated densist who insisted that I had 13 cavities that needed to be drilled and filled. After getting a second opinion from a family dentist we trust, we discovered I in fact only had three very tiny cavities that barely needed work.

We understand people sometimes do things to make things easier, safer, or better for them while ignoring the opinions and feelings of the patient.

We talked about how we’d like our labor to go… We’d go as natural as possible but discuss every option brought before us, no matter how often. We’re not going to focus on bringing a piece of paper with us stating “this is our birth plan” because we know that paper only does so much. Things can change and although I may decide and write “no epidural” for now… 30 hours of active labor with my pain tolerance, plus, yes, possibly a nagging nurse may make me decide to say “screw it, give me the drugs.” But if I do, that’s ok, because the plan is to be as educated as possible so we can feel comfortable making decisions as we go.

We don’t want to focus on a personal contract we sit down to write now, only to reflect on it once again later, cursing ourselves for not “sticking to the plan.” Our PLAN is to stick to a healthy birth practices outline such as those by Lamaze. Our PLAN is to make wise decisions together and be flexible. Our PLAN is to enjoy the experience together. Our PLAN is to have my husband cut the umbilical cord, and for our baby girl to be placed on my chest as quickly as possible. Our PLAN is to have a CHD test after birth, to breastfeed, and to have a safe and healthy recovery.

I’m not going to plan to skip the epidural no matter what only to discover I can’t stand the pain and change my mind later. I can plan not to have a c-section but during labor discover my baby girl has her cord wrapped around her neck. I’d change my mind then an opt for surgery. Then what of my plan? I am scared to death to make a promise to myself that I won’t keep, then cause myself so much regret after the birth of my baby because of self-disappointment.

It reminds me of planning for a wedding. There are some brides who go all out in the planning process, wanting to make sure everything falls into place perfectly on her wedding day. She may darn-near stress herself out up to the day of the wedding, maybe even the day of making sure it’s all right. Then what? Afterwards there’s sometimes a feeling of disappointment. It’s all over and now life goes on, the climax of the wedding day maybe wasn’t all she expected but it’s ended and hopefully she’s prepared some for married life and the responsibilities that come with that.
I use to say “I don’t want a beautiful birth, labor and delivery is just a means to an end for me to get my baby here.” But my mind has changed. I DO want a beautiful birth, but my picture of what that is isn’t like everyone else’s. No matter how my baby decides to come into the world we will choose to make it a beautiful experience, and we’ll enjoy it, because by gosh HAVING my baby in my arms at the end means we did it, we completed the process and we made it through the most exciting day of our lives. And to me THAT’S when the beauty starts–Or at least, that’s what I most look forward to.

My dream may have just been an insane collection of thoughts and worries playing on the big screen of my HD imagination, but it made me wake up a little. It made me count my blessings, and be so grateful for the chance my husband and I have to be parents in the first place, for the knowledge we have of that’s most important to us, and for the wisdom and courage we have to educate ourselves about the process.


Honey B. says:

Really really good words. Choosing to see your daughter’s birth as a beautiful experience, no matter how it happens, is something that not everyone can manage- it takes a lot of letting go of the things you can’t control, and that can be hard. You’re thinking through these things well, and I can’t wait to see what happens in June!! 🙂

kathysull99 says:

Things will be just fine!! It’s natural to have dreams like that because you’re already a mom and worrying about your baby. Also you’re probably starting to get nervous about delivery.

No matter what everything will be okay…My first 4 were el-natural…and all 4 deliveries completely different. My last 2 were c-sections because of their size, they were stuck on my pelvic bone and wouldn’t come down it was effecting their heart-rate.

Sometimes you can’t think about the way you want it to be or go…you have to do what’s best of course for the baby.

You’ll be just fine – go with the flow 🙂

love ya…kat

Jessica says:

Good luck to you! I remember having nightmares about my son’s birth, the anxiety of not knowing what to expect can make you crazy.

I didn’t plan for a c-section (honestly, ignored that section of my birthing classes because I felt like a healthy young lady who wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever). Well, turns out my son had other plans! His heart rate wasn’t tolerating labor and my blood pressure was too low, so I was wheeled away to the O.R. quickly and the rest was a blur. It was such a scary experience and not at all how I wanted it to go. But, in the end we were both healthy and that’s all that mattered.

vhsdit03 says:

Aw, mama, ease your mind. I’m glad that you had a chance to think through, once again what’s best for you and your little one.

As always, be well!

MarciaG says:

I love your last paragrah–it pretty much sums up everything. I had a birth plan…but my babies had other ideas! I learned quickly that even though I had the best intentions in mind for the “perfect” birth–things might need to change. I still delivered 2 healthy babies and in the end, that was what mattered the most to me.
Go with the flow as best you can girl!! Since you cannot predict the future; just try and concentrate on a healthy, fun pregnancy. I think you are doing this

What a crazy dream, i am sure you will be just fine!!

Mrs. Sanchez says:

ooooh, I just found your blog and love it!! Love the header, love the style.

I found you via Friday Follow, even though it’s Monday. 🙂

Follow me back at: http://jotgiveaways.blogspot.com

Busted Kate says:

This is a *great* post! But what a wild dream!! I love having those though, the ones that really help me to see a better way of thinking about things… to *live it* without actually living it. It sounds like you have a great birth plan and are setting yourself up for success, no matter which way things end up going!

“No matter how my baby decides to come into the world we will choose to make it a beautiful experience, and we’ll enjoy it, because by gosh HAVING my baby in my arms at the end means we did it, we completed the process and we made it through the most exciting day of our lives.”

Bravo.

I saw The Business of Being Born when we first started TTC. I was 100% sure I wanted a doula, med-free birth, maybe a bath tub… the whole shebang.

Then I had 2 miscarriages. And a very problematic pregnancy. And a baby who almost died in utero, which my “anti-intervention” OB didn’t catch (I did, and demanded that she send me to a pro-med- and incidentally, LDS – specialist who diagnosed an IUGR). By the time said specialist demanded that I get induced that very second, I was like, “bring the interventions ON, man.”

My birth did not go as planned, but I had a healthy baby at the end of it, and we made the best of the situation. However someone chooses to birth her baby is up to her, but interventions/medicine is not always “bad”. Regardless of what you believe birth “should” be, flexibility is such an asset for this experience.

Actually, flexibility is key for parenthood, in general. So that’s awesome you learned that lesson now! 😉

apaprikao says:

Wow, that is a crazy dream! I’m sure your birth will go just fine. No worries! 🙂

P.S. I gave you an award over on my blog! Go check it out! http://apaprikao.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/feeling-honored/

gaelikaa says:

Hey! Do not worry. You’re taking care. Everything will be fine. It’s normal to go through what you’re going through, but worst case scenarios are very rare.

Praying for your safe delivery.

casadekaloi says:

Your birth experience WILL be beautiful because, as you said–at the end of it, you’ll have your daughter. Whatever happens along the way, as long as you’re all healthy and sound, it will be beautiful. I didn’t get to hold Jasper right away, and in fact only briefly touched any part of him before they took him to the NICU, but that one second that we had, where our skin connected outside of the womb, was beautiful. I didn’t wash my hand for two days because I wanted to keep that bit of him (and it was probably actually my blood but whatever) on me.

Birth is beautiful.

MsBabyPlan says:

Really nice post but horrible dream. I know God will make everything wonderful to remember so don’t worry. Be calm and enjoy your pregnancy. Have nice day, xxxMsBabyPlan.

Emily says:

I haven’t had any birth dreams yet. I usually have nursing dreams and the other night I had my first ultrasound dream (it was a boy in my dream FYI). I guess I have that to look forward to!

~Em~

Rachael says:

I think that knowing your plan is not set in stone is actually really good. That was the hardest thing for me with my first – I knew I could plan all I wanted, but I had no idea what it was really going to be like and what I would do.

I think you’re already doing the most important thing – RESEARCH! I would have done things differently the first time if I had known more about my options, about what birth can be, about all kinds of things. Now I do, and I’m going to do things differently. My first birth went totally fine, and it was great. The birth plan was followed, and I was all right. Because of your blogging and involvement online and research, you will be prepared, and I believe that you will have a great birth!

Dana says:

Wow..that was a eye opening dream. You have headed in the right direction by looking into things and doing more research. Love your blog so much I am giving you an award. Check out my blog Tuesday @ 8:00 am to pick it up and follow the rules. Congrats!!!

I found you through SITS. This is my first time reading your blog and I’m already a fan. I love your writing style. I’m rooting for your beautiful birth and journey into motherhood. It’s truly the greatest calling in the world.

Found you through SITS – I know that I had the same nightmares before my son was born… it’s like walking into a medical void and not knowing all the factors… it sounds like your dream is helping you to mentally prepare for the worst while still hoping for the best! I think the biggest thing is having trust in your Midwife/doctor/team… and knowing that they will do right by you…

good luck!

Lori Taube says:

My suggestion would be to read “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way.” Even if you’re planning on keeping your options open at the time of birth, and don’t necessarily plan on using “The Bradley Method” for their techniques, this book is amazing at describing what happens (and WHY) during pregnancy and labor.
From my experience in our hospital, doctor’s and nurse’s either don’t completely understand what your body is going through, or they don’t care.. Everything that happens to a pregnant woman in a hospital (iv, constant monitoring, labor augmenting drugs, frequent cervix checks, lying on your back to labor AND deliver, pain medications, cutting the cord asap, taking the healthy baby first to weigh and check, etc) goes against nature.
I’m not personally against pain management if the mother feels it’s necessary, but in this day and age, all of these interventions are so common place that people forget that they aren’t without consequence.
My personal hospital experience was so horrible that this time around (we’re due in April) we’re birthing at home with a midwife we love. Not for everyone, I understand.. If you want to hear my story, I’d be happy to share.. Just be sure to get research from every end of the spectrum. Only you know what’s best for YOU!

Lori
clctaube @ yahoo.com

B&U&I says:

I loved reading this post, it reminded me of my own labor experience and how I went in wanted one thing and ended up with a totally different experience than the one I truly wanted. I ended up having to be induced (which wasn’t in my “plan”) and then after 21+ hours of labor (3 of which were hours spent pushing) my doctor came in to inform me that I he recommended I have a C-section. He recommended this for 2 reasons, first was the lack of progression and second was the fact that our daughter was a fairly large baby and if I still chose a vaginal delivery that I risked a 4th degree tear. In my “plan” I was so against the idea of a C-section that I was almost willing to deal with such a serious tear but in the end, and after much debate, I finally agreed to the C-Section. As it turns out, I was glad I did it and didn’t force myself through into conforming to the plan I started out with. And as cliche as it may be, it is true when everyone says that holding your baby for the first time makes all the pain worth it. I’d do it over and over and over again if I knew I would get the same result – a happy and healthy baby!

I totally agree with not nailing your expectations down to a birth plan. I never wrote one, because as my midwives said, people often end up jinxing themselves! I hoped for an unmedicated childbirth and planned on it as long as things went smoothly. But if something unexpected happened, I knew I had done enough research to feel comfortable with medical intervention if I needed it. By being flexible, you’re bound to have a wonderful birth experience, whatever happens. I’m so excited for you!

Jo says:

It sounds like you have a very healthy, realistic view of labor and birth. You can “plan” to some degree, but flexibility is required no matter how sure you are of something. Like you said, what if your labor lasts 30 hours? Or what if you have debilitating back labor? Or… any other number of “what ifs”?

Also, just on a technical note, a baby with a cord around its neck is not typically an emergency. In fact, a LOT of babies are born with the cord around their neck; it’s very common. There is usually enough slack so that it can simply be slipped over their head on the way out. Two or three times around can be a little more dangerous (after all, that shortens the cord significantly and/or can be a tighter “wrap” on the baby’s neck), but even so — it’s not ALWAYS a problem.

FWIW, my daughter was born safely and healthily at home in October and surprised us all when she came out with the cord wrapped three times around. She was fine, had no trouble breathing, and labor progressed in a textbook fashion right to the end.

Just FYI 🙂

Carly says:

I love this post! I have to admit, I went in to my birth with a birth plan (to which my nurses all rolled their collective eyes…I was a little disappointed). I was medically induced (not my first choice), my child was born posterior (not the most comfortable), I never completely dilated (due to his positioning), and ended up with a Level 4 Episiotomy (my doctor will only cut if you will completely tear otherwise, or if the baby is in danger…both proved true in those final moments).

Did my laboring go exactly as planned? Not precisely.

But, did my birth live up to my expectations? Absolutely! With the help of my doula, my husband, and my wonderful midwife, I had an unmedicated, beautiful birth process, and delivered a healthy baby boy!

The point of my story: if you’ve done your research, and you have a competent doctor and nursing staff, as well as support from those you love who know what you want to happen, but have your best interests in mind, you can’t lose.

All the best!

Riddlez says:

What a scary dream! Those are the kind that leave you shaken for the rest of the day.

Childbirth is just like every other earth moving thing we do (marriage, Temple, etc.): you just don’t know for sure how it’s going to really go until you get into it. Keeping that open mind will sure make you feel a lot better no matter what happens. Having a script (about anything in life) is usually the best way to feel disappointed by something. Keep that eye single to the goal: happy, healthy mom and baby.

The only real advice I have is this: don’t be afraid to trust your gut and stand your ground. My first birth was not at all what I thought or hoped for and after going through it, I realized I could have had more control. At the time, I was worried and inexperienced so why wouldn’t I trust the folks who I thought knew best? All along, both my husband and I had a subtle feeling that things weren’t quite right. Looking back, we could have pushed a little harder for what we wanted and never, ever jeopardized the health of our child. In fact, we may have avoided some of the issues we faced later. Anyhow, we all came out just fine in the long run.

So, I say hang on for the ride and enjoy every minute!

I love to see an accomplished young black woman!!!! I am your new follower, you can also follow my blog at http://www.safehomehappymom.com

Sarah says:

I loved your post! I always read about women having horrible birth experiences. I think if you go in being open minded that you will be much happier with the outcome. I plan on having my first baby in the hospital because my husband isn’t too familiar with babies (only has a brother), I don’t think he would be comfortable having the baby at home, and because I would be scared that something would go wrong and we would lose the baby. I do plan on going without pain meds and I think I can do it because I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I would be happy just to have my husband and maybe my mom in the room when the baby is born. I definitely don’t want anyone other than those 2 people and my doctors seeing me give birth. Hospital for sure to help my hubby focus on the moment instead of panicking, for me to not worry about the safety of the baby, and if I need it; access to pain meds.

Megan says:

Okay, that dream sounds CRAZY! But I’m glad you learned something from it! Definitely having a happy healthy baby is the most important thing that happens!!!

By the way, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Please visit http://journeytowardmotherhood.blogspot.com/2010/03/award-for-moi.html for more info!

Julie says:

Very well said!

Honey, regardless of what happens the day your baby is born, when you look back you will have beautiful memories. You can’t ever plan everything and nothing is going to turn out the way you pictured it. Do what is best for you (which I know you are/will) and try not to worry about the rest. With all of my pregnancies, I didn’t close any options and kept my mind UNmade up until the time came that I was in the position to know what I wanted/needed. LOL You’ll do fine, and your baby girl will be perfect!

Dreams always seem more vivid while you are pregnant. I do think that you shouldn’t feel so rigid in your birth plans. It is more important to be flexible in them, and educated and open to any and all options “just in case”. Come along and join the weekly pregnancy round up link up!

L.I. Tucker says:

Yes girl…crazy dreams come when you’re pregnant. I too want to do natural and I do have a “birth plan” (and a doula)…however, my midwife, my husband, and myself discussed that this is not IRON CLAD. I want to have a healthy baby anyway possible. There is a new method that some of the pregnancy social networks are discussing. It’s called The Best Birth (www.thebestbirth.com) by Sarah McMoyler, RN. She kinda uses both Lamaze and Bradley method but also says to give the doctors and nurses (and your partner) more credit than we currently do. Hope this helps and good luck on your journey!

Heidi J says:

It’s definitely a good idea to be flexible, but a written out birth plant might still be a good idea. Think of it more as listing what you would prefer rather than what must happen. It lets the people attending you know what you would like without you having to tell them while you’re in the middle of labor. I think you have your perspective right though as baby and mom’s health is what is most important.

J says:

I really like this. I dream about birth a lot (I’m not quite 10 weeks) although nothing as in depth as yours yet. While I’m not scared of the pain of labor, loss of control is a definite issue. I think it is a great perspective to say you’ll see as you go, but I also share that fear of “If I agree to this, it is a slippery slope to a c-section”. While I was only reading about the types of birth I want, I’m now starting to become informed about ALL of the options, because in the moment I’ll never know.

Love your blog!

– J @ http://www.AlternativeHousewife.com

RainSplats says:

Tell your doctor that you want a pulse oximeter screening for your baby before you leave the hospital.

It screens for congenital heart defects–the most common congenital defect.

A reading above 95% is normal. A reading below 95% warrants a closer look at baby’s heart. (basically an ultrasound of baby’s heart.)

The test is completely painless and takes 3-5 minutes. They’ll give you the test when you check in to the hospital. Remember the little red light that shines on your finger? or the clip they attach to your finger? that’s it.

More info here: http://perfectbrokenhearts.wordpress.com/category/chd-research/pulse-ox-testing/

Don’t mean to scare you, most babies are fine. 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart problem.

This is a very simple, painless test that catches a wide range of heart defects. But they only do the test if you ask for it. Then the doctors can take care of the problem before it is too late. Tell your friends 😉

Rebecca M. says:

I had bad dreams after my son was born, of dropping him over the railing of the stairs, but I can’t remember any bad dreams during pregnancy.

I think a lot of people have convinced themselves that medical interventions during their babies’ birth experiences were necessary when they really weren’t. They’re called iatrogenic complications, and they start the minute they start the IV. But I guess denial is how many people choose to deal with the trauma, by telling themselves the doctor saved their babies. I just think you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary and risky interventions by going to the hospital and using an OB.

Check out these articles about hopsital birth and birth plans:

http://navelgazingmidwife.squarespace.com/navelgazing-midwife-blog/2010/4/2/re-post-you-buy-the-hospital-ticket.html

This article has great info about writing birth plans; it’s long but full of great info in 2 parts: http://nursingbirth.com/2009/07/22/writing-your-birth-plan-tips-from-an-ld-nurse-part-1/

And about being “open minded” about how your hospital birth experience will go, and being open to drugs, consider the risk of a pushed birth: http://jenniferblock.com/wordpress/?page_id=6

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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