Almost every pregnancy book and magazine I read stressed the importance of having a birth plan. But, the articles added, I should be prepared for the birth not to go entirely according to plan. No problem, I thought. I’m flexible.
My plan was to have a natural, intervention-free labour and birth. After all, I reasoned, if my mom could pop out four babies without needing any drugs, why couldn’t I? Even if I turned out to be a wuss who needed an epidural, I’d still be able to pop out my baby. I have childbearing hips, I used to tell my friends when I was at school.
The first hiccup in my plan was seeing my due date come and go without any sign that the princess was ready to leave her cosy quarters. I was born on my due date and I had hoped that Angelique would be as prompt as her mother. (She wasn’t even here yet and was already making it clear who the new boss of the family was.)
On the sixth day A.D.D. (after due date) my gynae decided to induce. I checked into hospital and said goodbye to my dignity when the nurse handed me one of those backless gowns. An internal exam and some labour-inducing gel later, hubby and I sat down to wait. After a while the nurse sent hubby home to sleep, saying nothing much would happen before morning.
By 4 a.m. I was 3 cm dilated and experiencing mild contractions. My gynae arrived a few hours later and told me he needed to break my waters to help things along. Poor hubby returned just in time to see another man aiming what looked like a large crochet needle at my nether regions. After the amniotomy the contractions came hard and fast. I threw my birth plan out the window and asked very nicely for an epidural.
By 5 p.m. I was only 4 cm dilated and my gynae said he thought it might be time to get a surgical team together. At this point I didn’t care how she came out as long as it happened soon. So 18 hours after I officially went into labour, Angelique came out via the ‘sun-roof’, screaming at the top of her lungs. (I’m convinced she didn’t want her face squished in the photos.)
In the weeks before the birth my mother repeatedly told me that things would happen the way they were supposed to and not to stress because God knows what He’s doing. It turned out the Caesar was the right option because she was facing the wrong way and the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. (If I’d known that sooner, I would have had an elective Caesar and saved myself some trouble.)
As my antenatal teacher kept telling us: no one falls pregnant to give birth; you fall pregnant to have a baby. The only thing that matters in the end is a healthy mom and baby, and that’s exactly what we got. And a proud father, of course.
I suppose what I’m really trying to say is: expect the unexpected. And don’t be too proud to say yes to the epidural. No one will think any less of you.