Birthing Plans and Other Best-Laid Mice and Men

My second child came into the world the wrong way.

He wasn’t unplanned. He didn’t attempt to escape bum-first. He did ruin all my lovely plans to have a natural birth at a healthy point in the pregnancy with the aid of a midwife.

After being checked into the hospital for monitoring around week 30, I told the nurse I couldn’t possibly be facing a necessary C-Section. “I had a birthing plan!” I protested.

The (bad-news) nurse laughed and said, “It’s always the ones with birthing plans that end up in emergency surgery.”

Rude!

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But, what if she was right? What if Fate, Karma, or a teasing God wants to remind pregnant women just who’s in control of the miracle of life? Does that mean we ought not to try?

Of course not.

What I will suggest, to any woman expecting, is to be flexible. I went through the worst weeks ever with that second pregnancy, because every week presented a new set of bad news. First, I passed a blood clot and thought I’d killed my unborn baby. Next, I learned I had a placenta previa and would have to have a C-Section; I said, “Goodbye” to my midwife and our natural birthing class. Then, I had bleed after bleed after ambulance ride after bleed after hospital check-in after bleed after emergency delivery by a vertical C-Section.

No natural birth. And, no future vaginal births.

At the time, I was quite upset. But, as I tell one of my children frequently, it doesn’t do any good to fall down a hole and sit at the bottom of it yelling. It certainly doesn’t do any good to muddy yourself up even more in order to look more pitiful.

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I’m disappointed that I couldn’t have my birthing plan. But, I’ve since given birth to three more children. And, I got to schedule every one of them. Surgery’s not ideal, but it sure is convenient for a birthing plan to arrange for babysitting.

So there, bad-news nurse.

©2020 Chel Owens

Cognitive Creation

“What?!”

Dr. Baerkaler cleared his throat professionally. “I said,” he repeated slowly, “That is a common side effect when you’ve lost some parts of your brain.”

I felt dizzy, and tired. I felt like I’d just given birth, for Pete’s sake. The doctor wasn’t making much sense. I’d lost some parts of my brain?

I looked down at the snoozing head of my newborn son. “Could you explain what you just said in more detail?” I managed. Surely, this would have been a chapter in that What to Expect book.

The doctor settled onto a guest chair and assumed his cheerful, patient, bedside manner tone. “You’ve just given birth,” He began. He met my gaze, so I nodded. Smiling, he went on, “It’s a major strain on the mother’s body to make and deliver a healthy baby.” Dr. Baerkaler paused, obviously so that I could process such a long sentence. I nodded again.

“As the baby develops inside of you, your nervous systems -pieces of your processing abilities and memory storing capacities- are used up by this process.” He looked at me cheerfully, despite my now-blank face.

“What?!” I managed, again.

Searching the ceiling briefly for inspiration, he looked back at me and slowly summarized, “You lose normal brain functions and forget things when your body is making a baby.”

I blinked. “Seriously?”

“Why, yes,” Dr. Baerkaler answered immediately. He sounded surprised that I wouldn’t know this. “And, now that you’ve delivered, a sizeable amount of functionality is gone.” He laughed a bit, in commiseration. “Surely, you’ve noticed it’s been draining out, so to speak, over the last eight months.”

I shook my head gently, in shock. “No, I hadn’t.” I said, nearly crying.

“Oh,” he supplied. “I suppose that would make sense, too.” He stood, and offered a slight, inadequately comforting squeeze to my shoulder. Bringing his medical tablet to his chest, he turned to leave.

“Is it permanent?” I timidly asked his back.

Pausing at the beige hanging curtain, he looked over his shoulder at me. I felt small, helpless, and dumb; a disheveled, ignorant mother swaddled untidily amidst thin hospital blankets.

Perhaps sensing my distress, Dr. Baerkaler smiled a reassuring doctor smile.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You won’t be needing your brain for a while anyway.”

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Originally posted at chelseaannowens.com.