Making and breaking plans, a birth story | Voorhees, NJ, birth photography

I liked Julie right from the get-go.  She was pregnant with her second child.  She knew what she wanted for her birth.  She researched.  She made lists.  She was a PLANNER.

I love planners.  I’M a planner.  But eight years into motherhood, I’ve come to terms with having a plan but being ready to ditch it at a moment’s notice.  And that’s the sweet spot with birth.

Have a plan.  Be prepared to toss it.

woman in labor holding ultrasound images of baby

Case in point.  Julie and Dave’s first daughter was conceived shortly after their fertility doctor claimed they couldn’t become pregnant without IVF.  Miracle Pregnancy #1.  When Julie and Dave wanted to have a second baby they followed the same hormone and lifestyle regimen they had implemented before their first pregnancy.  Again, the fertility doctor said it was unlikely they would get pregnant without IVF.  Three months later. . .BAM!  Miracle pregnancy #2.

The fertility doctor had a plan.  He had to toss it.

woman in labor in hospital bed with husband next to her

About halfway through her pregnancy, Julie was diagnosed with complete placenta previa.  If the previa didn’t work itself out, her doctors planned for her to have C-section.  Which was NOT was she wanted.  It was not part of HER plan.

At 34 weeks, the previa had cleared.  Yay!  Now the baby was transverse.  Boo!  

Julie sought out a chiropractor who used The Webster Technique and she started a routine of inversions to help move the baby into a better position.

At 36 weeks, the baby was head down.  Yay!

At 39 weeks, I met Julie at the hospital.  She was having some moderate bleeding.  Thankfully, everything was fine and the baby was still head down.  Yay!  We all went home.

woman's hand on baby bump as she is in labor
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Two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Julie notified me that she and Dave were going to the hospital.  She thought she was in labor.  It was just before midnight.  

Do you remember New Year’s Eve 2017?  Yeah, it was cold enough to freeze lava.  I decided to drive to the hospital BEFORE any party-goers got on the road, having left their wits in a champagne bottle.  (Since I was on-call for this birth, there were no bottles claiming my own wits.)  I was still driving at 12 a.m., when my oldest daughter sent me an enthusiastic “Happy New Year” message through our walkie-talkie phone app.  She has been pumped that this was the first year she was allowed to stay awake until midnight.  She can tell time now so there’s no fooling her anymore.

Meanwhile, Julie and Dave shared a New Year’s kiss in the hospital parking lot.  Did I mention it was as cold as f#*@?

woman on stability ball in labor with husband behind her

It turned out that Julie was not in labor BUT now the baby was breech.  Boo!  This was not part of the chiropractor’s plan.  She had never helped a patient flip a baby only to have it flip back.  The doctors admitted Julie to the hospital with intention to perform a C-section the following day.  I drove home to get some rest.

A scan the next morning showed the baby was back to being transverse.  Though her doctor wanted to go ahead with the C-section, Julie asked for one day.  

One day and she would flip her baby.

Julie knew what she wanted for her birth.  She had researched.  She had made lists.  She had a plan.

husband holding wife's head as she's in labor

After a day of doing stretches and inversions taught to her by her chiropractor, a scan showed that the baby was head down.  Yay!  The scan also showed that Julie was hauling around six times more than the normal amount of amniotic fluid.  No wonder this baby was flipping so much.  

Julie’s womb was the baby’s Olympic swimming pool.

Before the baby had a chance to flip yet again, Julie and Dave were sent to Labor and Delivery, her water was broken (picture Niagra Falls), and a Pitocin drip was started.  I joined them shortly thereafter.

I need to pause here for a minute and go back to my initial consultation with Julie months earlier.  When we got together to chat she described the birth images she had viewed online: women screaming in agony, resting peacefully in birthing pools, and laboring resolutely in their own homes.  Julie wanted a hospital birth.  She wanted an epidural.  She was concerned her birth images would be. . .boring.  

I assured her that no matter how her birth unfolded, boring was one thing it would NOT be.  

Birth is the single most moving and visceral of all human experiences.  No matter the journey, it is unavoidably unpredictable and arrestingly beautiful.

sun setting through hosipital window

When I arrived in the L&D room Julie was in her groove laboring along.  The contractions became more intense.  She called for an epidural.  Now here’s an interesting tid-bit.  

There was only one anesthesiologist in the hospital that day.  

So there was some waiting for that epidural.  Once in the room and ready to administer the medicine, the anesthesiologist was called out to help another patient.  More waiting.  Contractions becoming more intense.  

Finally, Julie got her epidural.  Yay!  

IV of epidural and woman in labor

But it didn’t work.  Boo!

The anesthesiologist was called back to re-administer.  More waiting.  More intense contractions.  Eventually, he returned and set up his gear to redo the epidural.  

A Code Blue rang out throughout the hospital.  

The anesthesiologist ran from the room.  

woman in labor waiting for an epidural

More waiting.   A bit later, the epidural was redone and it worked.  Julie relaxed.  Her labor progressed quickly from there and soon it was time to meet her baby.

woman pushing during labor

Julie and Dave hadn’t learned the sex of their child during the pregnancy.  

Their faces lit up as they saw their baby for the first time and Julie exclaimed “It’s a girl!”  

woman seeing daughter for the first time after birth
father crying at the birth of his daughter

Miracle baby #2.

Julie had a plan.  Her health-care providers had their plans.  In some form or another. everyone had to toss their plans.   

Because birth is a fickle beast. 

As for any concern about lack of excitement. . . Julie's birth images are a lot of things.  Boring is NOT one of them.  

P.S. If you're an expectant mom, get the FREE printable list of little jobs your visitors can help out with while you nest with your new baby.  Because you should be drinking up all that newborn goodness and let someone else handle the cooking and cleaning.  Click here to get the printable.