But I’m wearing my floral flats! That was the first thought that floated through my mind when I learned all my carefully-made birthing plans were out the window. Ridiculous, I know. But I had A PLAN, and wearing floral flats to the hospital was not part of it.
I was a week overdue, and we were at a routine ultrasound. Except it wasn’t routine. The doctor put the wand on my giant belly, immediately directed me to roll over onto my side, then sprinted out of the room. Which is pretty disconcerting. Doctors, maybe don’t do that.
He came back with my OB-GYN on the line who told me, quite calmly, that the baby’s heart rate was decelerated and that I was to go to the nearest hospital. Not the hospital where I’d registered and taken all my birthing classes? The one with the nice Jacuzzis for labor? No. The closest hospital. And go there now.
Here’s the thing: I did everything “right.” I took months of prenatal yoga, I attended birthing classes and read the books and practiced my breathing. I fully intended on having a normal labor, and that’s what my go-bag (still sitting at home) was meticulously packed for: a bluetooth speaker for the carefully selected labor playlist, organic lavender calming spray, a back massager, a labor caftan so I could simultaneously have this kid and look like I was wafting about on the lanai. I ended up using exactly zero percent of it.
Instead, I sat hooked up to machines as we discussed what to do. I was having regular contractions, but the baby was so high up that I wasn’t feeling them. I was not dilated or effaced. I was still in my floral flats. My OB—who we trusted whole-heartedly—gave us the option of trying Pitocin, but she feared we were going to end up at a c-section anyway, except it would be an emergency.
I’m going to be honest, a very large part of me wanted to experience labor. This was the end of the pregnancy marathon I had been running for months, and going for the c-section felt like I was nearing the finish line only to give up. But we knew there was something stopping my body from going into labor. And when it came down to it, who cares what I had planned? Labor and delivery isn’t just about me and my birth story; it’s about delivering a healthy baby.
We decided to go for a c-section. It is a decision that I will never, not for one second, regret. All the classes, the yoga, the textbook pregnancy, and it came down to this: A c-section was the only way I was ever going to have a healthy, living baby.
Not forty-five minutes after we’d made the decision, I was holding my son. And the reason for the c-section? His cord was wrapped tightly around his neck, I had basically no amniotic fluid left, and he had already aspirated meconium.
I’ve had people say they’re sorry when they learn I had a c-section. What is there to be sorry about? I nurtured a growing human in my body and made the best decision for his safe delivery. That’s a triumph, not something deserving of pity.
People also talk about not bonding, or your milk not coming in. I can tell you this, my milk was in—and with a vengeance—within seventy-two hours. And bonding? As I cuddled my newborn onto my chest, he peed all over me. (I guess that solves the mystery of the missing amniotic fluid. It was all in his tiny bladder for a urine-rific gift to his mother.)
A hundred years ago, or living in a different place, my outcome could have been very different. Having a modern hospital and medicine and doctors gave me a healthy baby and a good recovery. Sure, I didn’t envision ever having a c-section. But I am so happy I did. Because at the end of the day, giving birth isn’t just about you. It’s about the baby and doing what’s best for him, whether that’s an unmedicated delivery, epidurals up to your eyeballs, or a c-section.
I left the hospital a few days later with a thriving newborn. And I was still wearing those floral flats.
Jenny lives in Denver with her husband, son, and two fat tabbies. She’s a mom by day, a writer by night, and a traveler whenever she gets the chance. Follow her on her blog or on Twitter.