My Birth Plan Flew Out the Window
Do you remember when I posted my thoughts about a birth plan? I really did mean what I said. I really did feel a peace about trusting God with the plan and keeping my hands open about it all. After writing a short birth plan which I gave to my doctor, she said my desires seemed very reasonable, and I felt really good about the whole thing. Alright, next plan: have this baby!
Welp. So much for that birth plan. I found out on Friday at my OB appointment that my birth plan was hijacked with a totally new set of plans, one full of medical interventions and completely devoid of any natural methods to bring this baby into the world. And I’ll be honest: this past weekend I’ve been grieving how I had hoped giving birth would transpire. I have been looking forward to having a baby for so long and as I started to come to terms with how different this birth plan will be from how I envisioned it, well, I just wanted to cry.
And I did. Sitting in Cheesecake Factory with Jared after our OB appointment on Friday, tears streamed down my cheeks as I tried to eat my lettuce wraps. I was definitely that girl that people kept glancing at to make sure everything was okay. But I didn’t really care. I needed to let it out.
Since writing my last post, I’ve been praying for wisdom to know how to walk this fine line between being honest and vulnerable about my life but also recognizing truth and keeping perspective. I have seen people usually lean too far to one side or the other and I admit I have done the same. I have leaned too far to the vulnerable side and “thrown up” my thoughts only to wish I would have tempered them and instead taken a nap. But I have also tried to be so logical, spiritual, and grateful for the blessings that I have failed to be honest and acknowledge my struggling emotions.
I am learning there is a balance between the two. My hope is to exercise this new muscle, learning to walk this line and honor God in the process. On one hand, I have experienced the difficult side of life, namely cancer. I know life can be tough and I don’t want to forget that even when life may be looking up for me, others are walking through some really deep challenges. I don’t want to lose perspective and bury my head too far in my seemingly petty concerns. Yet on the other hand, I have also learned I can’t push down my feelings pretending like they don’t matter, even if they aren’t the most rational or surrounding the most crucial of circumstances. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I believe there is a root under these feelings that needs some attention or it will continue to work its way through other aspects of my life too. I don’t want to simply bury them with optimistic thoughts hoping they’ll disappear. I’ve seen firsthand: they won’t.
As I sat at lunch with Jared, my first inclination was just to wipe the tears away with the back of my hand, paste on a smile, and “get over it.” Dismiss the pain. Move on. After all, we had so much to be grateful for. (And we definitely do.) But after working through so much over the past several years, I knew failing to address why this set of events was affecting me so deeply would do a huge disservice to my heart. I realized, no matter how silly it felt to me or others, I needed to walk through the grieving process so that when Olivia was ready to join us, I would be free and able to embrace the amazing moments ahead.
So, this weekend I had some honest conversations with God. On Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom for the fourth time (gotta love pregnancy!), and immediately the whole birth situation popped to the forefront of my mind. I said to God really honestly with some pouting in my voice, “But I really wanted a beautiful labor story.” Without hardly a moment passing, I heard God respond very clearly to my heart, “Who are you to say what a beautiful story looks like?” Oh. Right. That piece of truth was enough for me to fall back asleep.
The next morning I confessed to God my entitled spirit that basically told Him: I deserve my ideal birth plan because I have been through a lot. Don’t You owe me this? Ouch. I really didn’t know that lie had been quietly growing in my heart until I acknowledged it for what it was. I think God was very kind not to answer that question because I knew this situation had so much more to do with my expectations than it had to do with His love and provision.
I didn’t verbalize much of my thoughts the rest of the day but ruminated on what God must be doing in this new set of circumstances. I began to feel His peace permeate my heart as I yanked out some of the misconceptions to give Him more room to flood me with His truths. I’m so thankful for the way and timing in which He works, because what I didn’t realize was how tenderly He was preparing me for my OB appointment the following morning.
As Jared and I drove to the appointment, I told him in the car that if I wasn’t dilated at this appointment then it was time to accept the fact that it wasn’t going to happen naturally. I had exhausted almost every bullet point on the “natural ways to induce labor” list, and felt like I had given it my very best try.
Boy, was I surprised when not only was I not dilated but the doctor mentioned “c-section” within the beginning few minutes of the appointment. Thankfully in God’s kindness (and I mean that; truly, in the kind way that He works with me), He had helped me come to terms with so many of my emotions that even the sharpest turn from my ideal birth plan didn’t dissolve me into hopeless tears.
We talked for a long time with the doctor about all of the options. It was then that I realized I would not have the opportunity to give birth how I envisioned. Basically anything natural flew out the window since my body wasn’t dilating on its own and the doctor suspected Olivia’s head couldn’t move past my pelvic bones to encourage labor. The only options for Olivia’s escape were either a) a several step process of drugs that could quite possibly (over 50% chance) culminate in an inevitable c-section anyway or b) a planned c-section. Ugh. No talk of my body going into labor on its own with contractions building and resulting in a little girl entering the world through the birth canal, her lungs announcing her arrival and the angels singing. Okay, maybe a bit dramatic, but I realized I must let go of my ideal for a new, apparently “better” plan.
Let’s face it: at some point or another, we all experience when life doesn’t always go the way we choose and we’re confronted with accepting a new normal. Sometimes the shift of events are big things like an illness, loss of a job, end of a relationship, or death of a dream. And sometimes they’re seemingly smaller like realigning expectations, but I have realized we all get an opportunity to look disappointment in the eye.
The question I felt God kept asking my heart yesterday was, “Do you trust Me even though the plan is going differently than you envisioned?” I think sometimes it can be easy to say the word “Yes” and yet much more difficult to live out the Yes. But I believe living out the “Yes, I trust You” is the essence of what faith and surrender are all about. I want to live out my Yes with a belief that God is not only fully in control but also tenderly caring for my heart and walking every step of the way with me. Even if the events are totally different than how I expected or hoped for them to go.
So, the amazing news is that by this time tomorrow, I will be holding our little girl in my arms. Such a long-awaited dream and prayer and I can hardly contain my excitement. Though this birth story has no resemblance to what I originally envisioned, I am so utterly grateful that I have the opportunity to give birth to our miracle baby. And it will be beautiful because God’s writing the story.
Thank you again for all of your prayers throughout this journey. I would love your continued prayers for all to go seamlessly tomorrow, Wednesday, at our scheduled c-section at 11:30am. I will also have the opportunity for an oncologist to attend the surgery and double check that all still looks good and cancer-free. I am grateful this is working out and would also appreciate your prayers for a good report.