Our first pregnancy came almost exactly a year after having a miscarriage. We were so excited when we got past the first trimester and could start sharing the news. Course that’s also when I started planning and prepping, everything from room color and decor to types of diapers (we loved those from The Honest Company–you can see their great products here), first foods, etc. The big stuff – what I later came to realize wasn’t really so big – was discussed later: the “birth plan” and nursing vs. formula. After numerous discussions, my husband and I decided that after a natural birth, we would breast feed. Simple right? I mean, that was our “birth plan.” So after an emergency c-section the nurses came in with our daughter to help start the process of nursing. I was so stressed and upset from the c-section, that I had a really hard time nursing. To ensure she thrived, we supplemented with formula to take some of the pressure off me. As they say – the best laid plans….
Fast forward two years (roughly) and we find out we’re pregnant again – with twins! I don’t know who was more shocked, me or my husband. I don’t think we had too much time to process this shocking news before the doctors’ appointments started. My emergency c-section with my daughter was due to HELP syndrome – making me high risk. So no real shock when at about 10 weeks or so I was shifted over to the high risk docs with this pregnancy, especially since we were having monochorionic, diamnionic twins – in other words they shared a placenta but had two separate sacs. As the high risk OB was going over risks and stats I kept thinking, “eh, he can spout all this info, but the reality of me being in THAT small group is SO unlikely.” I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut because at 18 weeks, we became one of those stats. The boys were suffering from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and I needed surgery – more accurately, the boys needed surgery. Twin B (Spencer) was taking too much from Twin A (Gavin) – or maybe Gavin was giving too much to Spencer, who knows. But the end result was that Gavin was suffering and if we did nothing, we’d lose both of them. The surgery was more risky for the boys than for me since the doctors would essentially be breaking my water. After two hours on the table (while sedated, I was WIDE awake) and numerous blood vessels cauterized, we were done. The hope was that they caught the problem early enough and no permanent damage was done to either twin – the odds were in our favor but only time would tell.
On October 12, 2013 Spencer ruptured his membrane (and has been causing trouble ever since!) and I went into premature labor at 31 weeks. Doctors were able to get my labor under control and now I was a semi-permanent resident of the hospital. Doctors wanted the boys to continue incubating to give them the best possible chances and really wanted me to make it to 34 weeks. I wanted 34 weeks, 1 day as I didn’t want them born on Halloween. Hey at this point it was really the ONLY thing I could (kinda) control.
During my three and a half week stay, doctors kept asking me what my “birth plan” was. Plan? To have two children! Beyond that I was done planning. I was so devastated after my plan went out the window with my first pregnancy that I was honestly terrified to try and make any plans. So instead I said what I would LIKE to try and do was have the boys naturally – if the docs approved. If it was safe for me and safe for the boys, then great but if not then we’d go the c-section route again.
In the end it really came down to two things: 1) which high risk OB was on call – 2 would allow VBAC, one would allow if both boys were face down and the fourth was a c-section all the way and 2) neither the boys or I were in distress. The plan was that if I didn’t go into labor on my own by Nov 1, they would induce me – for my safety they wouldn’t keep me pregnant beyond 34 weeks, 1 day.
Thankfully, I went into labor on my own in the wee hours of November 1 (with some petocin to help keep things moving along). After about 9 hours of labor Gavin made his appearance and 3 mins later Spencer popped out.
After a few hours I was able to head up to NICU and see them. To my surprise I was even allowed to try and nurse them! We’d had such a high stress pregnancy, that I decided I would be totally fine with formula. Plus with TWO mouths to feed there was no way I could nurse both – I mean I was a hot mess with my daughter. I didn’t need the added stress. Somehow giving myself more leeway was all I needed because I was able to nurse BOTH boys (with a little supplementing so hubby could help with more feeding 🙂 ) for almost 6 months. I continued to pump and produce so that I could bottle feed both for their first year – which was significantly more than I was able to do with our daughter.
There is something very freeing about realizing that the stuff I thought was so big and so important, really wasn’t. Having happy, healthy children and enjoying the experience was what was important. All that other stuff falls into the “it would be nice” category.
As mothers we put an enormous amount of pressure and stress on ourselves to ensure we/our families have a certain experience. When what we need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride a little more (this coming from a type A, OCD personality!) Plans are great and when they work are awesome, but they also have their place and the reality is that not everything in life can be planned. It has to be experienced and enjoyed for what it is.
Watch The Honest Moments video from The Honest Company here:
*The writer was not paid to endorse any products in this post.
One thought on “Birth Plans Really Aren’t Plans”
I LOVE THIS. I wish I had given myself more flexibility with my “birth plan.” Nothing went as I wanted it to and I ended up having an emergency c-section and ultimately not being able to breastfeed. I love that this post encourages expecting moms to let go of expectations. It really is freeing.