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Monday, February 01, 2010

The Best-Laid Plans

I have waited my entire life to become a mother. Seriously, having children is something I can vividly recall looking forward to from the time I was about 6 years old. Raised as an only child, I also wanted a really big family, often telling people that I wanted 25 children. I was about 13 before I realized that it would take me about 40 years to reach that goal unless I had a string of multiple births. By the time I was in high school, I had settled on a much more manageable number: 6, and had a plan to start my family at 25.

But as we all know, planning and doing are two entirely separate things. I never planned to have trouble getting pregnant, I never planned to get divorced and I definitely didn’t plan on getting remarried in my early 30s – yet that’s what happened, and what led to me having my very first baby on Jan. 22.

Lily Ann has 10 fingers, 10 toes, and all the necessary parts to connect them. She’s practically perfect in every way. Yet her debut into this world did not come as I had planned.
Having spent my childhood, teens and early 20s as a paid caregiver for other people’s children, I had plenty of time to plan how I would raise my own. I babysat and nannied for a variety of individuals – granola-munching ex-hippies, modern yuppies, welfare moms struggling to get by, military personnel, etc. – and each experience taught me a little about what I did and didn’t want for my own children.

I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, use cloth diapers and wear my baby 24/7. I also wanted natural birth, with my preference being an unassisted home birth but willing to compromise by having a midwife present.

My pre-existing health conditions – gastric bypass, bowel obstruction, abdominal hernia, anemia, reactive hypoglycemia – caused me to “risk out” when it came to a home birth, meaning that no midwife was willing to take on the risk of assisting me with a home delivery.

Thus began my first compromise as an expectant mom: I would give birth in a hospital, attended by a family practitioner and assisted by my husband and a doula (labor assistant) to serve as my advocate.

Then my health conditions took their toll on my body and on my pregnancy, leading me to more compromises: Ultrasounds and fetal monitoring multiple times per week and early maternity leave.

When it came to my 38th week and my doctor began discussing the possibility of induction, I was a bit like a spoiled child and dug in my heels. I felt that I had compromised enough during my pregnancy, and I didn’t want to budge one inch further. I wanted the natural delivery of my dreams, and I was determined to get it. But sometimes, fate forces our hand even when we want to be stubborn.

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