The Birth Story I Never Wanted

I hate using the word perfect. Is anything ever really perfect in this life? Rarely. Despite my disdain for the word, I have to say I had an almost perfect pregnancy. At least, that was the case for the first 40 weeks.

I experienced minimal morning sickness, had very few aches and pains, and I was oddly chipper considering my uncanny resemblance to a human bowling ball. The pregnancy hormones put me on a transcendental high; I was the jolly, plump pregnant lady, ready to bring a smile to your day.

But at 40 weeks and one day, this jolly pregnant lady stopped smiling. My breathing suddenly felt restricted and I couldn't sleep worth a darn. I finally understood what all those other miserable mommas-to-be were complaining about. Seemingly overnight, I was jolly no more.

My husband rolled me to the doctor on the day after my due date. I was foolishly optimistic about how the visit would go. After all, my pregnancy was full term and then some. Maybe it was the naivety of being a first-time mom, but for some reason I just expected my fetus to have an alarm clock sitting on top of the placenta next to her ringing "it's time to get out of here" when 40 weeks came.

But when the doctor took a peak inside, it appeared my baby hadn't set her alarm. "No dilation yet," she said. "I'll see you in a week if you don't go into labor before then." The blood drained out of my face as I whimpered a fake, "OK, hopefully I'll see you soon, then." I left the appointment in tears, and beyond consolation. Was it possible that a woman could be pregnant forever?

41 Weeks

If it was possible, that lucky woman was me. The next week crept by ever so slowly, but my belly was growing at such a rapid pace you could almost watch it expand in real time. Although it was rough, I lived to tell about that fabled 41st week. Time kept ticking, and she still hadn't made her entrance into the world. By this point in time, I had prepared myself to birth a fully-grown teenager.

By this point in time, I had prepared myself to birth a fully-grown teenager.

On the morning of what would be my last doctor's appointment before the baby was born, I emerged with a new plan. I was going to waddle into that doctor's office and take down the facade. I would tell her exactly how miserable I felt; there would be no disguising my disgust this time when she told me there were no signs of prelabor. And that's exactly what happened; I hadn't dilated a dang centimeter. So, just according to plan, I let the doctor know exactly how miserable I really was. I can't remember exactly what I said, I just remember how persuasive I tried to be. There was no conceivable way I could handle one more week of being pregnant.

After my song and dance, the doctor agreed that as a mother, my condition was extremely important, and she expressed concern for the size of the baby. She recommended an ultrasound to get an estimate on the baby's weight.

Nine-and-a-half pounds, the technician estimated. No wonder I was miserable. As the doctor entered the room after viewing my ultrasound photos, she started flipping through her calendar on her phone. I knew what this meant, and her next words confirmed it: C-section.

She didn't feel comfortable inducing me based on the projected size of the baby. As she spoke, the room became blurry, and all I could think about was the birth plan that had been typed out on a now-crumpled piece of paper in my purse. Nowhere in my birth plan did I mention a C-section. Nowhere in my mind did I ever prepare for a C-section. This wasn't the outcome I had wanted or expected, but it was the outcome I was going to get.

So once again, I found myself leaving the doctor's office in tears. Conflicting emotions were running wild inside my head. This is what I wanted. Right? I had walked into that doctor's office fully expecting to beg and plead for my baby to be born. To my surprise, my wish was granted: my baby was going to be born — tomorrow. But I didn't expect a C-section to be the only option.

We set the time, called our family, and strangely drove to the movies. I sat inside that cold, dark theater and stared at the screen, but my mind was on the baby I was about to have. This time tomorrow I would be holding a child in my hands — my child. I remember how strange it felt to have this kind of knowledge, just walking around on the street.

No big deal, I'm just having a baby tomorrow.


My baby's birthday came quickly. We arrived at the hospital hours before the operation would begin; there's no peaceful sleeping on the day you have an appointment to give birth. But something interesting happened when the nurse plugged me up to the monitor: I began having contractions very close together. Was this it? Was this labor?

I would never know.

The delivery was, in a word, a nightmare. The days that followed were almost as tough.

Before long, I was rolled to the operating room in a flimsy little gown, with my husband standing above me holding my hand. The procedure was bumpy. I was sick from the anesthesia during the course of the surgery, and I lost a substantial amount of blood. So much that I needed blood transfusions (plural) after the surgery was finished. The delivery was, in a word, a nightmare. The days that followed were almost as tough.

But she was here, my almost-nine-pound baby girl. My baby was perfectly healthy despite the imperfect circumstances surrounding her delivery.


Motherhood has been one epic adventure. My daughter is my proudest accomplishment, and challenges me as a mother and a person every single day. But sometimes, when I lay down to sleep at night, I think about that 41st week: the way I handled the frustration, the determination I felt to convince the doctor to bring her into the world. And I harbor guilt.

Not for having a C-section, God knows it wasn't "the easy way out." But I feel guilty for not letting nature progress my pregnancy the way it would have. My impatience could have cost me my life that day. My impatience could have cost my daughter her mother. And I know, it's entirely possible that the doctor would have recommended a C-section regardless of my persuasive tactics. But maybe not? I might have given birth naturally, without any complication. I might have been able to avoid the disaster of a surgery that followed.

I can't undo what's been done. I can't spend precious time on regret. But through this experience, I've learned a valuable lesson on the importance of being patient — even when it's hard to breathe, and even when it's hard to sleep. Patience always pays off, especially when it comes to childbirth. Perfect is such a stupid little word. Nothing is perfect in life: no woman, no decision, no birthing experience.

But one day as a mother the second time around, my prayer will not be for relief when I'm knocking on the door of that 41st week. My prayer will be for patience, patience that I was critically lacking the first time around.