Saturday, November 28, 2009

How TTC is like giving birth....

I know, I's a terrible analogy on a infertility blog, but birth is 
what I know best. It is true that I have never done it myself, but I have 
spent the last three years of my life watching little ones join our world 
and I learn something new with each and every birth. 

In the last few weeks I have had the honor of attending some of the 
most beautiful, and challenging births I have ever seen. Beautiful
because in the end a child was born, challenging because these births
did not exactly go as planned, both ended in a cesarean birth. In the 
days that followed these births my husband and I have learned that 
we have very little chance of conceiving naturally. These events, along 
with a few days lying on my couch have left me with some time to think 
and reflect on the similarities between these situations. I know it 
sounds odd to compare a woman in labor to a woman trying to 
conceive but let me explain. 

As a doula I often spend my very first meeting with clients preparing
their birth plan, we listen as they tell us how they want their perfect 
birth to play out. By the end of this meeting we usually have a list
of what the soon to be parents will want and need during their labor, 
how they wish to be treated.  At the time of the birth, this piece of 
paper will be handed around to all staff members, OB's, midwives, and
who ever else happens to be in attendance at the birth. This way 
everyone knows how to properly support the laboring mother and 
her wishes, making it easier for her birth to play out exactly as 
she wants it. 

Us infertiles have a plan too, or we did, although not quite as official. 
Many of us planed to meet a nice partner, get married, buy a house and 
have lots of little babies. For most of us, there has been loved ones 
around us, supporting us in these decisions as we move forward with 
our plans. People who listened to us as we gossiped about our first 
date, stood by us at our weddings, drank wine at our house warming. 
Having the love and support of others made it easy for our plans 
to fall into place. 

There is a dark side to making plans though, and we all know it, we 
all know how it felt to learn our best laid plans would no longer be
an option for us. This change of plans can also happen to a woman
during her pregnancy and birth. Often times, the process takes place 
exactly as planned, a woman goes into labor, breaths and moans 
through contractions, pushes with all her might and eventually a baby 
is born. Sometimes though, even with a well thought out birth plan, 
the best education, and the best support, a birth can still take another 

When my clients and I write up these birth plans I let them know that 
there may be times when they need to stray off of this piece of 
paper for the safety of themselves or the baby. I let them know there 
are usually two choices when faced with this change....they can tense 
up and cling to these plans or they can relax and let go. When a couple 
relaxes through a change of events they are better able to ask the 
questions needed to make an informed decision, one they can look 
back on and be proud of, they are also able to breath more oxygen to 
the baby. 

For us it is much the same, we had our plans written out in stone
in our minds, not knowing that these plans will not play out the way 
we see them. If there is anything the last week has shown me, it is
just how off track my plans have gone, and the control freak part 
of my brain has not taken this change very well. In Fact, when faced 
with this change, I did the opposite of what I tell my clients to do. 
I tensed up and I clung to my plans with everything I had, closing 
myself off to any other options, and any other way to seek happiness.

So here I am now, learning how to let go and relax. Learning to ask
the questions needed to make a decision, learning how to breath and 
give oxygen to the baby that is out there somewhere waiting for me. 
I realize now that things are not going to go as planed, and I may never
know why it is happening this way for me, but it is. It is time to write 
a new plan, to be excited about the new path we will be taking. Just
like the births I have seen over the last few weeks, their births may 
have not have been as they envisioned, but if you step back and look 
again, you will see these births were exactly as they were meant 
to be, and every bit as miraculous. 

Quite often we do not know why a birth has gone off track until the 
baby is safety on its way to the mothers arms. We like to tell our 
clients that babies are smarter then we think, and know more then we 
do about birth. We tell them this because we believe it to be true, in 
the case of a planed vaginal birth that makes its way to a cesarean, we 
may notice that baby had the cord wrapped around parts of its body, 
or may be in a funny position and thats why they decided not to make 
its way down. Baby knew the best way to be born, and told us this 
though a series of plan changing events that lead to it's birth. 

I am beginning to wonder if this is not the same for us, if our babies
know the best time to be conceived, or the best way to be brought into 
our family. Perhaps they are out there, smarter then we think and with 
the wisdom to know more then we do about building our family. Maybe 
they are letting us know, through a series of plan changing events, what 
it is we need to do or learn before they can arrive. Maybe baby has plans 
of his or her own and we will not know until they are safety in our arms 
why they took so long to get to us. 

For many of us this way of family planning was not our first choice, 
just as a cesarean birth was not the first choice for my clients. In the 
end, it did not matter how these baby's came to them, what mattered is 
that they chose to relax, they asked questions, they made the right 
decisions for them, and became parents. I hope that in time, for all of 
us, there will be a day we can step back and see the beauty and triumph 
in the change of plans. To see our baby for the first time and trust in 
their plan for us and honor their decision to arrive at the perfect time
for them.  


  1. I think that is a beautiful sentiment! You're right that sometimes we just have to trust that things are happening for a reason, and try to be at peace with it.

  2. I love the idea of this, and believe there is much truth in it. Thanks for putting that thought into such beautiful words.

  3. I am in awe of where you are already! So quick to get to this huge huge place, I know it took us a while to get there, but, once we stopped fighting, it really did come into place.
    Have I ranted yet about Spirit babies? As a doula you may have already read this, if you haven't, please read it! It was probably the most helpful book for infertility and it's not even about infertility, just about spirit babies and listening to what they want.

  4. First of all, I am so amazed by how well you are doing after such a big meeting with your RE. Your attitude constantly inspires me.

    Second, I wanted to just take a minute to comment on your last post. My opinion: unless you have major symptoms of endometriosis I would think carefully before having a laparoscopy. I had one for a hemorrhagic cyst (so they definitely needed to go in there) but it was rather unpleasant (the gas they pump into you isn't fun to get rid of), I didn't come out of the anesthesia well, I was severely constipated, and it took me a good 5 days to get to feeling mostly normal. On the other hand, 5 days isn't CRAZY long to recover if you are really dying to know what's going on inside you. The scarring is completely minimal. I have 3 1mm scars across my abdomen (below the underwear/bikini line) that were red at first and are now white and almost invisible. I have another one inside my belly button which is completely invisible. I recovered very well after the first unpleasant 5 days.

    Now I know not every single person with severe endo experiences pain/bad periods, but most of them do. Also, your male factor situation sounds like it is plenty to stop you from conceiving naturally, so probably it is the #1 issue, not your possible endo.

    Depending on your insurance coverage and financial situation, if you could swing 1 IVF at least before the lap I probably would go that route. The surgery for egg retrieval is so mimimal in comparison to a lap.

    Ultimately it is yours and DH's decision, and you definitely have a lot to think about before making it. I agree with you that it's in a lot of ways better to know what's wrong and deal with it head on. I am so glad you are doing a little better and are ready to think through your options for having a baby. *hugs*

  5. Tishi, beautifully put. It's a wonderful way to look at this journey.