I know, I know.....it'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
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