Learning to Let Go
Let me start by explaining that I am a meticulous person, to a fault. Those who know me personally understand that I have a very strong personality and a very difficult time letting go of control. I have a schedule and a thorough plan for everything, and would probably sleep more easily at night if I had a calendar mapping out each day for the rest of my life. I am also a dreamer, and I always have a vision for exactly how things should play out. I unfortunately believe that I have probably taken the beauty and simplicity out of too many precious moments in life due to them not playing out as I had imagined in my head beforehand.
So, needless to say, I had a written birth plan. I had prepared a playlist of the perfect songs to be played in the hospital room. I envisioned a beautiful, peaceful, low pain labor and delivery to match how gracefully my pregnancy had gone.
Fortunately, none of the embarrassing or terrifying things that you read or hear about happened to me during my pregnancy. I was low-risk and felt great. I gained a minimal but healthy amount of weight. I assumed I would go a few days past my “due date” as most first time moms do, and I strongly resisted the doctor any time the word “induction” came into the conversation.
Fast forward to nine days past my “due date” and no signs of labor progression… I had shut the data off on my phone and disabled my Facebook wall, because if I had to hear or read about one more person asking where the baby was, I honestly would have screamed. I knew the risks the doctor had shared with me about continuing the pregnancy, and I cried when I finally gave in as I felt in my bones that this baby was NOT coming on her own.
I was ashamed of myself for having to have medical intervention in order to give birth to my child. I lived in somewhat of a blissful fantasy land throughout my pregnancy and didn’t ever seriously consider induction or c-section as possibly being part of my journey. I am also by no means an “all-natural” or holistic mom and had every intention of having an epidural, but I felt strongly about not forcing my child into this world. I wanted to let her decide when it was time and I wanted to be able to trust in my body to do what it was meant to do. I felt as though my body had failed me, and I had a difficult time letting go of the preconceived vision I had planted in my head about exactly how my first stage of labor would go. Due to my self-shame and disappointment, the only person I told about my impending induction (other than my husband, of course) was my mom who would also be in the delivery room with us.
As my husband and I prepared to head to the hospital for my induction, something clicked. Along with my love for a plan and schedule obviously comes an intense hatred for chaos and unscheduled madness. The fact that my labor was scheduled meant that there was no dramatic scrambling to get out of the house and into the hospital on time, no forgetting important items at home, no rushing around in extreme pain… No stress. An induction meant that there was a schedule and a plan. We were able to go through our hospital checklist multiple times, load our car at our own pace, and eat dinner together before heading to the hospital. We even stopped for my favorite orange ice cream and fed baby geese on the way.
As I settled into the delivery room and finally accepted my fate, I listened to the nurses explain how an induction is a great way to “control” labor and keep pain at an absolute minimum. Wow, this made perfect sense for me! Little did I know at that time that I was about to receive another huge lesson in going with the flow (a major weakness of mine).
Fast forward again through an eight-hour labor that included a meconium filled bag-of-waters; two failed epidurals followed by an extremely painful delivery; a placenta that wouldn’t come on its own; and the doctor muttering words such as “D&C,” “hysterectomy,” and “blood transfusion,” and it was all a blur. None of the perfect music on my birthing playlist was echoing through the delivery room, and “calm” was definitely not the word I would use to describe the tone of the room as nurses continued to flood in and tears streamed down my mother’s face.
This was not the beautiful, peaceful vision of childbirth that I had played out in my mind so many times before. My birth plan might as well have been set on fire, but none of it mattered. Because, guess what? In the end, I was holding a perfectly healthy, gorgeous baby girl, and nothing else in the world mattered at that moment.
My baby and I were ultimately blessed to both come out of the delivery process healthy, and I learned an invaluable lesson on letting go the day that my daughter was born. That day in May, as I held my newborn baby girl, I learned that worrying is a waste of time because things are going to happen whether we like it or not, and sometimes attempting to plan out every detail of life in advance just sets the stage for failure. I learned the importance of not being so hard on myself (women, we are often all-too-guilty of this). Finally, I learned that there are so many situations in life in which we cannot set the schedule or control the outcome, and it’s beneficial at times to just relax and go with the flow. These lessons would all prove to be very important with a newborn baby at home (but more on that later...).