Tag Archives: babies

Why Birth Plans are Stupid

With all this talk of feeling old, I’ve found myself thinking about the “good ol’ days”. You know — the ones that happened before children appeared. As much as I adore my boys (and I do), it’s impossible to say that them coming into my life wasn’t a dramatic change. And for us, the drama started before I’d even met Big Brother. It started with a birth plan.

For the uninitiated, a birth plan is a plan for what will happen at the birth of your child. That is to say, a list that you make while pregnant of things you want to happen during labour, things you don’t want to happen under any circumstances, and what you want your partner and the doctors, nurses, midwives, and/or sherpa guides to do when you scream at them that you need more drugs, dammit!

You’re asked to consider such things as which drugs (if any) you’d like administered, whether you’d prefer a natural birth or a caesarean, what your thoughts are on nudity (for yourself, not the staff), and what vaccinations (if any) your baby is to be given in the hospital. You’re also encouraged to make notes about what type of music you’d like playing, whether you’d like scented candles or fragranced massage oil, and what type of relaxation techniques you’d prefer to use.

When I was pregnant with Big Brother, my husband and I gamely attended the first couple of antenatal classes at the hospital. Then we wrote our birth plan. It looked something like this:

  • Drugs are good in  moderation.
  • But an epidural is a last, last, last resort.
  • I’m not a ‘relaxation exercise’ kind of girl.
  • Under no circumstances do I want to be naked in front of hospital staff. In fact, if I could give birth while fully clothed, that would be preferable.
  • Under absolutely no circumstances do I want a caesarean. No way, no how, uh-uh, never. Absolutely not.

The plan was written. The birth was practically over. Tick that box and move on.

Of course, things didn’t go exactly as per our plan…

It was Saturday afternoon. I was 39 weeks pregnant and sick, sick, sick of feeling tired and bloated and like I had giant suction cups on the bottom of my legs. (My ankles may have been just a little bit swollen.) A male friend of ours was at our apartment, and the guys were chatting away, trying to keep me happy and distracted. It was going on 3:00pm when we decided to watch a movie.

My husband gallantly moved to put a DVD in the player and turn on the TV. In a moment of I-can-do-it-even-though-I’m-pregnant-ness, I got there first. I leaned over to grab the DVD and felt an odd sensation.

I looked down.

My water had broken.

I raced into the bathroom. (I don’t know why, I just did.) I checked to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. That’s when I discovered that the fluid seemed to be mostly blood.

I walked out of the bathroom and back to the bewildered guys. In what I believe was a calm (for the circumstances) voice, I turned to our friend. “You need to go home now.” Then I looked at my husband. “We need to go to the hospital. Can you grab the hospital bag please?”

I phoned the hospital and explained exactly what was going on, and that we were on our way. Then I called a taxi. (We only lived 5 minutes from the hospital and a taxi was quicker and cheaper than parking at the hospital itself.) By the time my husband was back, I was ready to go. I took his hand and we walked downstairs, got into the waiting cab, and went to the hospital.

We got there at 3:15.

By the time a nurse looked at me, I was feeling kind of funny. She had a quick look at me, put me on a stretcher, and called for a doctor. Suddenly there were staff everywhere. Someone checked my blood pressure and said it was too high and they were going to give me something to bring it down. Someone else put a catheter in my hand and injected something into it. A nurse wrapped a belt around my stomach and announced that I was having contractions every three minutes. Another one told me I was just over 6cm dilated.

The room was full of bustling people, all of them talking and calling out numbers and unfamiliar phrases. My husband stood next to me, holding my hand. There were no scented candles in sight.

I heard the phrase ‘placental abruption’ and then a female doctor explained that part of the placenta had torn away, but the baby didn’t seem to be in any distress. She told me they’d monitor me and let nature take its course — I was already well into the early stage of labour. She instructed someone to attach a heart rate monitor to the baby’s head and left the room.

It was 3:22.

I was suddenly in pain. I sat up, almost doubling over in agony. At any moment an alien was going to rip its way out of my body.

“Contraction?” somebody asked.

“No,” said someone else, looking at the read-out from the belt around my stomach. “Nothing here.”

“The heart rate’s dropping. BP’s too low.”

Fleshing. Beeping. Bustling. Someone injected me with something, not explaining until after it was done. “Your blood pressure is too low. This will bring it back up.” I squeezed my husband’s hand tighter. The pain kept rolling over me, not in intervals but in waves.

The doctor’s face loomed in front of mine. She waited until she had my attention. “We need to operate right now or your baby won’t make it.”

She handed me some forms to sign and said something else but I didn’t hear a word of it. The room was a blur. I might have cried. I don’t know.

I signed the forms.

I somehow went from being dressed in my clothes, to wearing nothing but a hospital gown which concealed practically nothing. The room was full of people. I didn’t care.

It was 3:29.

I was wheeled into another room. My husband was gone. I was pushed into a sitting position and turned sideways on the bed. A male voice instructed me to lean forward so an epidural could be administered. He sounded calm and experienced, but spoke and moved quickly. Like time was of the essence. I did as I was told, ignoring the rolling pain.

Then I was in the operating theatre and my husband was by my side once more. He wore a purple hat and smock. He looked ridiculous. I couldn’t feel the pain anymore. I couldn’t feel anything below my waist. I gripped my husband’s hand as they pinned a sheet up between me and my lower body.

Poking. Prodding. Tugging.

A cry.

My son was lifted into the world: an angry, squalling little thing with red-blond hair and eyes as dark as the night sky.

It was 3:37.

My husband held him first — I had to wait until I’d been stitched up. But I couldn’t draw my gaze away. He was here. He was amazing. All I wanted to do was hold him; hold him tight and never let him go. And when I did, I cried again.

It was 3:50. Less than an hour earlier, we’d been arguing about which movie to watch. Now we were parents. It was surreal.

And I didn’t care about scented candles. I didn’t care about music or massages. I didn’t even care that I’d been naked in front of a room full of people, or that I’d had a caesarean. All I cared about was that my baby was safe.

We didn’t bother making a birth plan for baby #2.

It wouldn’t have helped anyway.

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The Diary of a Ten-Month-Old

For ten months, I’ve been at the whim of my captors — let’s call them the “parents” — but finally things are starting to turn around. They couldn’t have known that I’ve been practicing, training, waiting for this day. I feel like Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 (not that the parents have ever let me watch that classic movie), building my strength for the day that I knew would come.

The day I learned to crawl.

I’m still a bit unsteady, but my strength and speed are improving on a daily basis. I can make it from my playmat to the lounge room quicker than ever. I hope to break the two-minute mark within the next week. And then it won’t be long before I can escape from this prison — let’s call it my “house”.  The world will be my oyster! (Whatever that is.)

The best part is that the parents are completely oblivious to the fact that their reign of supremacy will soon be over. If they had any sense, they’d be worried. Instead, they spend their time oohing and aaahing at me, encouraging me to “dig my knees in” and “keep that bottom up” as I exercise.

Truly, their stupidity is a blessing.

They do lock me in a cage every night — let’s call it a “cot” — but I’ve recently discovered that, in their naivety, they have forgotten to put a roof on the thing. In a few more months, I should be able to scale the wall and disappear without the parents being any the wiser.

###

My captivity isn’t too bad. Other than the solitary confinement every night (isn’t that against some kind of human rights act?), I’m treated well. There’s as much food as I can eat, assuming I’m prepared to scream until I get it, and a variety of interesting toys to play with. Best of all, I have a cellmate — let’s call him a “sibling”. The parents call him Big Brother, but I’m fairly sure that’s not his real name.

I’ll have to ask him next time we’re alone.

Big Brother plays with me, brings me toys, and tells me stories. I keep trying to tell him that I’m plotting my escape, but so far he hasn’t responded. Maybe he doesn’t want to alert the parents. Or maybe he doesn’t understand plain babyish. It’s a shame. I’d like him to come with me: he’s good fun to have around. Plus, he can open doors.

###

Despite the good treatment, it’s important that I maintain a healthy level of control. I don’t want the parents to think that I’ve succumbed to the idea that this is “for my own good”. Plus, I don’t want to get sidetracked and forget my escape plans. I’m coming to wonder if that’s what happened to Big Brother. I have no other explanation as to why he doesn’t use his superior door-opening skills to run away from home.

Between the parents and Big Brother playing with me, and all the tickling and games every day, I find it hard to stay surly. In fact, I spend most of each day laughing at them. (Sometimes they don’t even realise they’re being funny. Seriously, who wouldn’t laugh when a parent slams his/her finger in a cupboard or stubs his/her toe?)

I’ve found the best way to keep the parents on their toes is through sudden, unexplained, and uncontrollable crying and/or shrieking. Not only does this force them to stop what they’re doing immediately, it reminds them of who has the real power in this house.

Unfortunately, the female parent — let’s call her “Mummy” — wears soporific-laced clothes. Within minutes of her picking me up and resting my head against her chest, I fall into a deep sleep. This is highly inconvenient to my plans for world-domination.

###

The parents spend a lot of time trying to “bond” with me and “teach” me their “language”. To be perfectly honest, I think they make it up as they go along. Most of their so-called “words” are just a combination of odd sounds. Even so, I’ve come to understand a few of their nonsense sounds. Here’s an abridged version of the dictionary I’m compiling:

No: Please stop what you’re doing and smile at me, then continue as you were.
Come here: Please crawl away from me as quickly as possible.
Time for breakfast: Food time!
Time for lunch: Food time!
Time for dinner: Food time!
No biting me: Food time!
What’s in your mouth: Please open your mouth as wide as possible, wait for me to stick my finger in and then clamp your teeth down as hard as you can.
Take that out of your mouth: Please swallow. Quickly.

But in an effort to broaden Mummy’s horizons, I’ve taken it upon myself to teach her some of the more basic words in babyish. As you’ll see from the following example, my patience is a thing of legend.

Mummy: Is that Daddy? Say Da-Da.
Me:     Gik.
Mummy: Da-Da.
Me:     Gik.
Mummy: Da-Da, Da-Da, Da-Da.
Me:     Gik.
Mummy: (laughing) Gik.

I smile to show I’m pleased with her progress and she beams. Then I slap her on the side of the head as a reward.

###

I’ve come to believe that the parents are deluded and stupid. Want proof? For a start, they seem to completely incapable of making full use of their senses or their bodies. I’ve never yet seen Mummy or the male parent — let’s call him “Daddy” — explore any part of the house with their mouth. So while I can tell you where I am merely by the taste of the floor and the chewability of the furniture, the parents rely on their inferior sense of sight.

Likewise, the parents insist in using their hands to do everything. I’ve tried to help, tried to demonstrate that there are better ways to manipulate objects than with the clumsy use of “fingers” — or, as I like to call them, hand-toes — but they seem oblivious to the fact that they have other limbs. It’s almost as though they think of feet and toes as simply something to put on the ground, instead of as useful tools for holding toys, picking up dropped food, and even sucking on (in dire situations).

Sometimes it’s like living with forty-year-olds.

###

One of the biggest things I’ve learned since starting to crawl is that the parents have been hiding all the good toys from me. Yes, for ten months I’ve had access only to the cast-offs; the leftovers. But no longer.

I’m talking, of course, of those amazing rubber snake-like toys with one end attached to the wall, and the other… well, who cares where they go, really. (Although I’ve learned that if I pull on them hard enough, things fall over with very satisfying crashing noises.) These rubber snakes are perfect for my favourite games — chewing and pulling.

Sometimes it’s necessary to climb under or behind furniture to get to the snakes, but I assure you that it’s well worth the effort. And although the parents do their best to distract me from them, it doesn’t work. No other toy is nearly as interesting. Besides —

OOoh! Big Brother’s building a tower of blocks! I need to go knock it over!

Bye for now!

Baby Brother
(Not my Real Name)
xxx

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