Twin Cities Mom Collective

Drugs vs. Natural: My Opposing Birth Plans

With Mother’s Day coming up, we’re taking this week to share stories from our own Twin Cities Moms Blog Contributors on how they became mothers. We all have unique stories, and some of our stories are still being written. We hope you enjoy reading about these moms’ experiences!

Whether you personally know me or have gotten to know me through my writing, you probably know I’m a planner and a ‘bit’ of a control freak. The most cherished words I came across during my first pregnancy were “birth plan.” I erroneously thought this meant I could actually plan my child’s birth… after all the term is “birth plan,” right? Nope…wrong again, Mama!

Even though I had worked in a pharmacy in high school and started my college career in pre-pharmacy, I was extremely adamant about not using any drugs with my first pregnancy. I had a fairly easy pregnancy (minus a scare or two), but labor and delivery were a completely different story. My “plan” involved everything as natural as possible, but in the end I was grateful for science and medication!

Hubby and I got home late from our respective jobs and reheated a delicious homemade (by my mother-in-law) chicken enchilada with tomatillo sauce dinner around 7 p.m., while we unknowingly watched our last horror movie for at least two years. After our last supper, when we had just laid down our sweet heads, I started feeling extremely sharp, stabbing pains in my 39-week and 6-day uterus. I had been cursing my OB/GYN since my visit the week before because there had been no progression, but thanks to the spicy food something was starting to work. I spent the next too many hours to count breathing through and cursing my snoring husband through my contractions. Finally at 2 a.m. I called the nurse line again, and because I could not talk through my contractions, she said it was time to come to the hospital.

Drugs vs. Natural: My Opposing Birth Plans | Twin Cities Moms Blog

{Photo credit: Sarah Elizabeth Photography}

My water had not officially broke yet, and I was terrified it would happen in my car on the way to the hospital, so I put two towels on my car seat… just in case. We weren’t exactly sure where to park once we got there, so my husband dropped me off at the ER door while he parked the car. I walked into the ER room and waited in line like a non-emergency patient. They told me to go to a different floor, which I walked to alone. Once I was at the Family Birth Center, I signed myself in, in-between contractions. I was placed in a triage room where they took all my personal items and information, and eventually where my husband met up with me. I called my mom in Wisconsin and told her it was probably a good time to start the five hour dive.

I took a few laps around the hospital floor, stopping in every bathroom we passed. Once we finally got into a delivery room, it was 9 a.m., meaning I had been in labor for 14 hours already. That was my breaking point and beyond my “birth plan” plans. I finally asked for an epidural because I was so tired and tired of being in pain. The anesthesiologist inserted my epidural, but it took two tries to get it inserted properly, and even after that it only blocked part of the pain. I could still walk and I could still feel the worst of it. I just didn’t have enough energy to push the baby out. Then they gave me Pitocin twice and tried to break my water twice. NOTHING was getting this kid out–drugs or natural. After three hours of pushing, rotating, pushing, rotating, my daughter was finally born 22 hours later at almost 5 p.m. There is absolutely no way I would have gotten through that without the drugs – not just pain, but the induction and labor maintenance. Almost everything was against my ‘birth plan,” but we all did what it took to get my healthy 6 lb. 5.6 oz. baby girl out safely.

Fast forward two years and four months. I started labor on July 5th (at 39 weeks, 6 days again), just after my daughter’s school’s July 4th parade and an informal cookout at our house. I remember making sure to give my daughter every last bit of attention I could before her brother was born. I thought I was starting contractions the night of July 5th after all of our celebrations. However, it wasn’t until the next morning I knew for sure I was in labor. We got up for the day and I tried to dismiss the pains, telling my mom not to leave Wisconsin until the morning and to take her sweet time. After my last LONG labor experience, I was determined to labor as long as possible at home, where I could be “most comfortable” as they say. Ha! No matter where you are, you’re not comfortable when you’re in labor!

Drugs vs. Natural: My Opposing Birth Plans | Twin Cities Moms Blog

{Photo credit: Sarah Elizabeth Photography}

My mom arrived about 10 a.m. and then we headed casually to the hospital knowing that it would take awhile. I didn’t bother getting dropped off at the ER entrance this time. My husband and I walked in together after parking in the ramp and got situated in a triage room. The triage nurse took my measurements and even though I had been in labor for awhile, I hadn’t progressed much since my appointment the week before. She suggested I take a lap around and then see the doctor on call, which I did. After he read my chart, he wanted to send me home, but after I took that last lap and he took my measurements, I had progressed so much, they rushed me to a labor room. Of course this was during shift change, so there were no other nurses to help the triage nurse and no other doctors – the baby warming table wasn’t even ready yet. I didn’t want to have an epidural, but I was in transition and thanks to my last experience, I thought I needed it. However, the nurse informed me there was absolutely no time and this baby was coming NOW!

Labor and delivery happened so fast, not only were there no nurses besides the triage nurse, but my fluids depleted to the point the phlebotomists could not find a vein and my hands and feet were paralyzed. There was no time for an epidural, but my water broke on it’s own while I was pushing–the feeling scared me half to death. It took maybe three pushes (as opposed to three HOURS of pushes) to meet my 7 lb. 5 oz. baby boy. The only medical intervention I needed were fluids for my dehydration afterwards. 

Although both of my children were born on their due dates, their processes were completely opposite. Neither birth was according to my “birth plan.” One had a significant amount of medicinal intervention while the other had none. Ironically, although my second delivery hurt a ton more without medication, the immediate and longer-term recovery was much better than my first delivery. I could walk better, felt more energized, less after-pain, happier, baby nursed better, I slept better, etc. The two labor experiences were night and day, just like the babies.

My biggest take-away was that the process of making a birth plan is more helpful than the actual birth plan itself. It helps to go through all possible situations ahead of time and to have your partner or a family member know your wishes. We even had the horrific talk about what we would do if, while delivering baby #2, we had to choose mom’s life (to care for baby #1) over baby #2’s life (new and never met mom or family yet). These were terrible conversations no one wants to have, but we need to have in order to make the right decisions should the unfortunate time come.

The true birth plan is a written document of all the extremely personal and uncomfortable decisions no one else can make for you and your family. You are under so much physical pain and stress in the moment, it is so much easier to have the plan done beforehand.

Here are some helpful resources:

Birth plan: Your expectations and preferences | BabyCenter

Tool: Birth Plan – The Bump

Creating your Birth Plan – American Pregnancy Association

Creating a Birth Plan | What to Expect

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