I didn’t have the birth experience I wanted, but it brought me exactly what I needed

I prefer to take the hard road.

I'd rather run the great distance, put in the long hours, do too much rather than too little. I want the opportunity to learn through experiences and to feel every feeling along the way. I want to show myself that I can do it on my own.

As I imagined it, the birth of our son would be no different. I wanted to fully experience childbirth how I wanted to. I did not want a medical procedure.

Somewhere in my third trimester, I dutifully filled out a birth plan that I printed, distributed to my doctor and tucked into a folder in my hospital bag. With clear preferences for labor, delivery and after childbirth, I planned for a vaginal delivery and I also planned to plaster my expectations up for anyone who entered our hospital room.

I wrote that I would like to be able to move, change positions and walk when allowed.

I wrote that I would like fetal monitoring if appropriate.

I wrote that I would like someone to speak with us before performing any medical interventions.

I wrote that I would like assistance to use comfort techniques like massage, relaxation or counter-pressure.

I wrote that if circumstances allowed, I would like to start pushing only when I felt the urge.

I wrote about delayed umbilical cord clamping and skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.

Looking back at that paper now, I smile with love and more than a little tenderness for the woman I was pre-baby.

Several weeks after the careful creation of my birth plan, I was induced at 37 weeks and I watched 24 hours of labor quietly, glacially tick away, each passing hour bringing me closer to the possibility of a C-section.

Following an epidural, the minor contractions I did have went entirely unnoticed. From the Foley balloon to the Pitocin, I pushed and pushed to try and have the type of birth I wanted.

When the doctor arrived to deliver the news that I would be having an emergency C-section, I wept. I hyperventilated. Tethered to multiple monitors, I felt completely unmoored and out of control. My body had let me down. I had let our child down. I had let my family down.

Through the exhaustion and discomfort, I was convinced that I was being robbed of my own journey to motherhood. My chance to push, to feel every feeling, to take the harder road, to do it on my own was ripped from me.

Wheeled into a cold, bright room, I felt this painless pressure. This pull. And then this beautiful, purple, plump little boy.

It was simple. It was short. It was a blinding white blur.

When I held that baby moments later, my tears, disappointment and fear didn't matter quite so much. We had made this being out of love and light and more than a little pixie dust, and the mere touch of him, the physical manifestation of my sudden motherhood made that birth plan feel quaint.

His very existence felt miraculous. And the awe we felt in our son just spilled over. This stunned sense of our family. This expanded understanding of what love could be. This courage required to walk out of the hospital with a newborn baby. This wonder at the strength of my own body as it healed and changed in the months ahead. This scar that feels like bravery.

My C-section feels like a cherished experience now. A signifier of a woman who faced a fear, who left her comfort zone, who learned to trust a new instinct.

And in turn, I feel less of a need to push these days. I don't always take the hard road. I'm recognizing that I don't have to go it alone.

Exactly what I didn't want—my C-section—brought me exactly what I needed. Connection to an incredible community of moms, permission and vulnerability to ask for help, release to stop controlling for a perceived ideal outcome, and wonder to be pulled in entirely new directions... most especially by a little boy who now grabs my hand in excitement at trucks and city traffic and a favorite pair of teeny brown shoes.

I may not have had the experience that I wanted and outlined so meticulously. Very few of us do—whatever our birth story. But the treasured story of how I became a mom, that pulls at me and pushes me every single day.

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Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


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