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.