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Best Laid Plans

Newborn baby love

Gazing at my newborn son’s perfect head

Yesterday, upon reading a friend’s account of her newborn daughter’s birth story, I couldn’t help but think about best laid plans, and how often they veer off course. And, how perfectly the phrase about best laid plans captures the always-going-awry world of parenthood.

This friend of mine planned for her baby’s delivery more meticulously than anyone I know. She chose her natural birthing center long before she ever became pregnant and did everything possible to ensure the most natural experience possible.

And yet, she could never have planned for the many complications she endured throughout her pregnancy, including a bicornuate uterus, a potentially breech baby and “unstable lie”, a constantly flip-flopping fetus and an external cephalic version. (You’re not alone: I had never heard of most of those things before either.)

Unfortunately, all her careful planning went out the window when her baby first decided to wait until more than a week past her due date to arrive, and then showed signs of distress during the slowly developing labor. Despite months of preparing for a natural, drug-free birth, my poor friend found herself being wheeled down the hallway for an emergency C-section.

Best laid plans: how they do go awry.

Parenthood is full of plans gone amiss; it’s almost as if labor and delivery are nature’s way of preparing you for a life filled with the unexpected.

I had my own best laid plans for my son’s delivery, most of which went out the window in the 41st week of my pregnancy. I had intended to let him arrive on his own schedule, until we went for a 41-week ultrasound and were (mis)informed by an overzealous technician that our baby was already weighing in at nine pounds (“And growing more each day!”).

While my husband and I were thrilled to have such a healthy and vital baby, I became terrified for the labor I was already dreading. Two days later, in the darkness of night, my husband and I checked in for an induction with enough luggage for a three-week stay.

And once again, my carefully laid plans unraveled, one by one.

It turned out that labor was a far cry from what we saw in a series of horrifying videos shown at our childbirth preparation class. My experience was nothing like that of the overalls-wearing mom (seriously, who gives birth wearing overalls?), who walked the hospital corridors and brayed loudly while rolling around on a yoga ball.

Within moments of arriving at the hospital, I was given a hospital gown to wear, hooked up to a monitor and prepped for an IV. So much for the socks and tennis shoes I prudently packed so I could walk the halls and undergo natural childbirth. So much for the birthing ball, which we never unpacked from the car (given the other six bags we dragged into the facility). So much for the Jacuzzi tub I was so excited about, which never saw a drop of water during our entire stay.

Since that day, there have been plenty of other best laid plans.

There was the Superbowl party we tried to attend, only to have my usually happy 3 ½-month-old son launch into hysterics just as we pulled into the driveway. (Little did those partygoers know there was a woman frantically trying to breastfeed a manic baby only steps from the front door.)

There was my snobby attitude toward baby formula, which ended up being a lifesaver in the post-partum days when my son and I struggled mightily with breastfeeding.

There have been numerous cancelled plans, countless ruined outfits, endless missed opportunities.

That’s all just part of being a mom. You plan like you’ve never planned before, only to have things fall apart at the seams. You worry endlessly about one thing and then discover you were worrying about the wrong thing all along. You stress and agonize over your child’s birth, only to learn that the delivery is just the beginning of a long journey you’ll make together.

As it turned out, my friend’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her baby’s neck, not two or three, but four times. As her baby traveled down the birth canal, the cord pulled tighter and tighter around her sweet baby’s neck. The natural birth she had so carefully planned may have actually spelled disaster. Who could’ve ever guessed such a thing?

As my friend so beautifully wrote to her perfect little daughter, “On the day you were born, you were born. And that’s all we really wanted anyway.”

Those words bring tears to my eyes.

You try. You do your best. You make your plans, and watch as they fall apart before your very eyes.

And at the end of the day, you look down at the perfect little head of the human being you created, and you smile. Nothing else really matters. Nothing else ever will.

Read parts one and two of Sara’s delivery story on her excellent blog,

118 Months Pregnant

BabyAheadAll of a sudden, I’m a hundred months pregnant, and it happened overnight.

A couple weeks ago, I went to bed 32 weeks pregnant. I woke up the next morning with a belly twice the size it was the night before. Did I unknowingly sleep-eat after midnight and turn this baby into a Gremlin?

Ever since this sudden belly expansion, complaining is my drug of choice. I can’t go more than an hour without it. The other day I was whining to my sister over the phone, and she asked pointedly, “Is there anything that is okay to say to a pregnant woman?” After a long pause, I came up with the answer:


Not at this stage, anyway.

Part of me is dying for it to be over. Part of me is terrified for it to end. Most people — seeing how slowly I’m waddling around these days — assume I’m more than ready for it to be over. On many levels, they’re right:

I’m ready to be able to climb into bed without lying on my back and panting, struggling to roll over like an overturned cockroach. I’m ready to stop mopping sweat from my face while all my co-workers complain about how cold the A/C is. I’m ready to hold my baby in my arms instead of balanced on top of my bladder.

But am I ready to have a baby? In addition to the fact that this baby still has some cooking to do, I still feel a long way from prepared to be a mom. And yet, the baby’s arrival suddenly seems imminent.

My feelings of unpreparedness were compounded by a recent doctor’s visit. My husband and I saw a different OB-GYN at my usual practice and, while we liked her a lot, she had a lot of questions. We didn’t have too many answers.

“Have you started interviewing pediatricians?”

“Have you considered taking infant CPR classes?” (My husband made a note on our to-do list: “infancy PR class.”)

“Have you toured the hospital?”

I meekly offered, “We’re taking a childbirth class at the end of this month …”

“Great! Have you pre-registered for the delivery yet?”

Sigh. It’s cram time.

As my college roommates can attest, I was never good at planning ahead for tests and assignments. Any impending exam or art project deadline had me up late the night before, working furiously to load my brain with a semester’s worth of knowledge.

Here I am again, clueless in the eleventh hour.

As always, though, I’m ready and willing to learn. If this were college, I’d be brewing a big pot of coffee and laying out my drawing pencils, finally inspired as I can see in my mind’s eye exactly what I’m going to make.

It’s the most important, exciting, life-changing creation I’ve ever brought to life.

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