I knew that my birth experience was going to be absolutely perfect. I had planned a drug free, pain free, water birth in a quiet, candlelit tub--just like on YouTube. One of out of three ain't bad.
Our baby was due on June 10, 2011. My husband and I had prepared extensively with birthing classes, books on what to expect, documentaries and breathing exercises. We had searched for a birthing center where we could have a peaceful, serene birth. One with a personalized iPod playlist of soothing songs, like Salt 'N Peppa's "Push It."
It seemed like everything was going according to plan--until we discovered that I had gestational diabetes. There went the birthing center, and the water birth I had envisioned. I was officially declared "high risk," and would need to deliver at a hospital instead.
After months of weekly appointments with a perinatologist, blood sugar testing four times a day (which is just a joy for someone who hates needles), and a modified diet, I went in for a routine test on May 8th. I felt my son moving around, but didn't think anything of it. The nurse checked the monitor, and then looked at me strangely. "You don't feel anything?" I didn't, but apparently I'd been having contractions.
They sent me to the hospital, which was a few blocks away. I thought that I'd get checked out and be on my way, but I was already dilated 4 centimeters. The only place I was going was the maternity ward. I immediately started to cry. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I wasn't due for another month! We didn't have a car seat yet. The crib wasn't ready yet. My baby shower was supposed to be that Saturday. I didn't even have my iPod!
Whether I was ready or not, the baby was coming--but not for another 23 hours. My doctor wanted to start Pitocin, but I refused. They offered me an epidural, but I refused. I wanted to control at least some part of the birth I had so carefully planned. I didn't really start feeling pain until I got to 8 centimeters. A few pushes and some blinding pain later (cross pain-free off of the list), I was finally able to hold the little person that I had carried for the past 35 weeks and 5 days at 7:35pm on May 10th, 2011.
Because he was born prematurely, he spent the next three days in the NICU. None of what I had planned prepared me for the sight of my tiny baby with tubes in his nose, enclosed in a plastic tube.
Being able to bring him home was one of the happiest days of my life. Our son is now a happy, healthy 3-year-old with a love of math and reading. He makes jokes, uses words like "cooperate" and "frustrated" with his little brother, and is so much better than what I planned.
You can read all of the books, take all of the classes, and detail all of the plans, but everything can change. Learning to go with the flow is all part of the process of motherhood--because when that sweet baby becomes tantrum-throwing 2-year-old, you'll be able to applaud his Oscar-worthy performance until he laughs. Which is all just part of the plan.
Tiffani Greenaway is a Brooklyn-born wife and mom of two toddlers. Her mission is to inspire, empower, and inform moms through social media and special events at mymommyvents.com.