To me the idea of birth planning is an oxymoron. To be honest, we didn’t have any plan going into baby No. 1’s birth and that was probably a good thing, considering her birth did not turn out to be anything close to what we had planned. We planned on taking her home. She died instead. I remember the nurse even asking me, after we had just found out our daughter was to be stillborn, “What is your birth plan?” I turned to her, looked at her like she was crazy and then looked away. I think she got the message that in my head I was screaming, “Not this.”
I went through the birth of my first child knowing that she would not be born alive. We delivered her in a hospital setting and that was our plan all along. The doctors said I needed to have a vaginal birth so that the infection that killed my daughter would not spread to me, even though I pleaded for a C-section to get the whole ordeal over with as soon as possible. The birth was traumatic for more reasons than I choose to go into right now, but in the end I am glad I had a vaginal birth experience with her and really, the medical staff made her birth hauntingly beautiful and healing. They treated my little forever sleeping child like a live one and let us spend as much time with her as possible, creating memories in moments that will last a lifetime. If I were to tell you now that it was a beautiful experience even though she was born still you might not believe me, but it really was.
Now, planning for baby No. 2’s birth seemed silly at first when I looked back on my past birth experience with my daughter, as some things you just can’t plan for. But, since the birth of my first child was so traumatic yet beautiful I really want the birth of my next to be a healing experience. I know I’m not alone in this. Women who have lost a baby or not can tell you stories of their first birth experience still being traumatic and needing their next to be different, a sort of therapeutic healing and that is why we have been planning for baby No. 2’s birth even though it seems foolish.
This time around there are a ton of things to plan for and consider besides just being terrified to contemplate the idea of giving birth again and hoping for a different outcome. For instance, I am considered a high-risk pregnancy and because the loss of my daughter occurred in the last weeks of pregnancy, I now am told by multiple medical providers that it is in my best interest to deliver at 37 weeks. Also, due to complications from my last birth it is no longer recommended that I deliver vaginally. I will be having a scheduled C-section (not my first choice). So far this next birth experience didn’t seem to be turning out to be the healing experience I wanted. That’s when we decided to hire a doula.
We sat down with our doula last week and after consulting with her, she gave us so many ideas to make this next pregnancy restorative, even though it’s a medical procedure and highly anxiety provoking, I think baby No. 2’s birth might be magical (especially if she comes home alive).
If baby and I are okay and the procedure goes as planned we have so many beautiful things in place thanks to the help of our doula to make our C-section a wonderful birth experience. Below is a list of things we are working with my OB and the hospital to have happen by sharing our birth plan with them beforehand. If you too are having a planned C-section, maybe these ideas will help.
- Birth Photographer—Since we hope this birth experience to be more healing we want to capture the event on camera. We will be asking that our birth photographer accompany us into the room to capture the big moment.
- Drop the Drape—I want to connect to the actual birth of the baby and my doula said that some women don’t feel as if they do in the same ways as when they have a surgical birth compared to a vaginal birth. So we are asking the medical team to drop the drape when baby comes out.
- Skin-to-Skin—We are asking the surgical team if the baby can be placed on my chest as soon as we know everything is okay with her. In order for this to happen we are also asking for the electrodes I need to wear for the procedure to be placed on my back and placing the drape below my breasts so there is room for baby on my chest right after birth.
- Breastfeeding in the OR—Since I did not get to experience breast feeding with my first I want to try to make this relationship happen as soon as possible. We are hoping to get a chance to do this as the surgical team is sewing me up.
- Baby With Me—I want the baby to stay with me in recovery and at all times during and after the surgery if all is okay with our little girl. If this can’t happen then the plan is for my husband to accompany her to the NICU. But since we are planning on this baby being born alive and healthy, I think it will be a while before we are okay with leaving her side.
Even though I know that ANYTHING can happen when you prepare for the birth of your child for some reason it feels safer to have a plan this time, even though I know it could always be thrown out the window at any moment. I am hoping this time the plan works and the baby and I come home. That really is the end goal even if all else fails. I would be happy with that.