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My Birth Plan

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

We had our 33-week checkup last week, and everything looks good. We also got a few things confirmed: 1) I’m still big, and I weigh a lot. Glad we got that squared away. 2) My blood pressure was high, but seconds later when they re-took it, it was back to normal. So that makes a lot of sense. And 3) The baby is clocking in at 5 pounds 3 ounces, in the 80th percentile, and they’re estimating (just an estimation, this is never totally scientific) that she could be almost 9 pounds at birth. 

Excuse me!? 

The reason I seem to be carrying so big is because I have a lot of fluids inside me—more so than what’s typical, I guess. My doctor isn’t worried about my weight gain and didn’t advise me to cut back on anything in particular, so I took that to mean that I should continue eating ice cream Snicker bars late at night. (And thanks to my husband, we now have a box of them in our freezer for convenience.)

The baby’s head is already down, nestled on my right side, which I’m told is where the babies like to snuggle their heads. It makes sense now, because I’ve been feeling body parts up near my belly button and rib cage—she’s hanging out upside down, kicking the crap out of me where it counts. I swear, if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was giving birth to an alien. You can see her moving, somewhat frantically at times, from just looking at my stomach—it looks as though it’s going to split open at any moment and a crazy, acrobatic baby is going to come bursting out doing Krav Maga self-defense moves.

That’s how it feels anyway.

The topic du jour during this appointment was—naturally—our “birth plan.” I put that in quotes because it feels silly to say that; I’m not really someone who would usually come up with a birth plan. I’ve actually never used that term before, but I’m not sure what else to call it. We scheduled a C-section for June 6, but if I go into labor before that I can still decide to deliver vaginally. Or, if that happens, I can have an “unscheduled” C-section (it’s not the same as an emergency C-section, which I’d like to avoid).

So if you can call that a “birth plan,” that’s ours. One friend called it a “walk-in birth.” I’m hoping it goes down a little more naturally than that—how perfect would that be if I went into labor the night before my scheduled C-section? Probably not likely, but that’s exactly how it happened for my “walk-in birth” friend with her second baby, who was born less than a month ago.

Though I know a post-cesarian vaginal birth is safe these days, there is a little risk involved and I’m not sure I’m up for taking those risks—even if they’re only 1 percent. (My luck with all things fertility, I’ll be that 1 percent.) Bottom line for my husband and me: We want what’s safest for the baby and my OB explained that a scheduled C-section is what’s safest for someone who’s already had one. So I’m fairly certain that’s the route I’ll end up going—but a girl can fantasize about her options, right?

I spent the last 7 months talking to my OB and every mom I could get my hands on—you could say I’ve been a little obsessed with the topic of vaginal deliveries lately. When I pinged my network of girlfriends, who’ve all had vastly different deliveries, it helped me weigh some of the pros and cons.

Their experiences run the gamut—from a friend who pushed for nearly seven hours at home without drugs (the longest pushing phase for a home birth in her midwife’s 15 years of practice); to a friend who labored for 40 hours with her first and ended up having an emergency C-section (and then a scheduled C with her second); to yet another friend who pushed for 10 minutes with her first (had three pushes with her second, and one push with her third!).

Then there’s my mom, who was in labor for two days with my brother, but only labored in the hospital for two hours with me (sans drugs, and out I came with two easy pushes). Not sure if that's an indication of how my labor and delivery would go, but I can say with one thousand percent certainty, either way I do this, I will be doing it with a helluva lot of drugs. (I'm a Say Yes to Drugs kind of gal.)

When I went in for my scheduled C-section with Preston, which had to be done two weeks early because I had placenta previa, I asked the anesthesiologist if they ever put women under a general anesthetic for the surgery. "Don't you want to be awake for the birth of your baby?" he asked. "Of course," I said, "But I don't want to be awake for major abdominal surgery." Alas, I was awake. 

I know no two vaginal deliveries are exactly the same, or birth stories for that matter. I'm so curious about what to expect with labor and delivery, and that unknown is so exciting and cool, especially because I didn’t get to experience it with Preston. There's still a big part of me that wants to know what contractions really feel like—but then there's another part of me that doesn't want to leave anything up for chance. 

I'd love to hear from you. What was your birth experience like?