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My Baby Didn’t Follow My Birth Plan: Lessons From an OBGYN Mom

22888Hillary Robinowitz-Elins, MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She is medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Inova Medical Group ­– Shirlington. She also serves as assistant professor for Georgetown University School of Medicine and clinical professor for The University of Virginia. Read Dr. Robinowitz-Elins’ profile.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to being a Type A personality (control freak) who sincerely believed that I could do anything if I just persevered. I was a full believer that when I was ready, I would have children ­– and with good planning and organization it would go smoothly. (If you read that last statement, and you have children, you are laughing at my innocence.)

Second part of full-disclosure: I am an OB/GYN and have seen all sides of pregnancy and childbirth, so I wasn’t ignorant to the process. I really believed I could control this process for myself. Again, if you have children, you are snickering now.

I first really saw the birth plan in action when I began my time as an attending in the Air Force. I found these statements of female power to range from straightforward outlines of the individual’s expectations to novels describing every detail. My favorite included the time of day the baby should be born and then held up “Lion King”-style at time of delivery.

untitledA Pregnant Dictator

All right, my inner-control-freak said, I will research the birth plan and formulate the right direction for myself. I found out birth plans started as a way to help fathers become familiar with the process, as they had been relegated to the waiting room with cigars for years. Birth plans were never intended to become a directive for delivery, but here we are and I was pretty excited to let my control-freak flag fly.

Just to be clear, I was thinking about this before I was actually pregnant, so I would be prepared. My plan was pretty simple. It included who I wanted in the room, from staff to family. I was clear that while I would like to go natural, I realized I would probably have to be induced due to pre-existing medical conditions. If I needed the epidural I would decide the time and who placed it. Have you noticed all the “I’s” yet? I was clearly running this show like a little pregnant dictator who wasn’t even pregnant.

I secretly dreamed about this well-controlled, seamless event that I have seen many mothers under my care perform with grace. Funny, I forgot at the time those mothers didn’t seem to have birth plans…Oh well, I was ready.

Ultrasound Surprise

Time to get pregnant and wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t super easy as planned. Okay, my control freak managed to sort it out without IVF. I was still en route to my perfect birth plan. Cue to dramatic music at my first ultrasound. The poor young woman who was my ultrasound tech is probably deaf from hearing my insane scream complete with new forms of profanity.

I made her get the radiologist, who was a lovely man ­– I had just delivered his wife’s 7th or 8th baby! He didn’t get upset until I screamed, “Is that mother-$%&%&% triplets?” He tried to reassure me, but my inner control-freak lashed out and screamed, “I’m a mini-breed, and this is a litter for a golden retriever!”

The truth of the matter was that I saw all my dreams of birth plans and a perfect pregnancy flying away. I had somehow forgotten that I wasn’t going to be in control of any part of this, because the person – or in my case persons – in charge didn’t speak or write birth plans.

The Best Birth Plan Ever Written

In truth, I don’t think I realized until many months after their birth how little control I had in their way into this world. While their birth is another blog altogether, I learned hard truths regarding birth plans:

  1. All of us OB/GYN’s, midwives and others who help babies into the world believe in the strength of women – and that the longer the birth plan, the shorter the time to cesarean section. (Seriously, we could do a study.)
  2. The best birth plan ever written is, “I want to have a healthy baby and be a healthy Mom.” The end.
  3. The most important part of your delivery will never read your plan or care whether the right music played or if you had an epidural. Your child (or children) will dominate your control freak for years to come and will be the deciding factor in all things, starting at delivery.

Learn more about the pregnancy, childbirth and parenting resources available at Inova Women’s Hospital Birthing Center.

 

5 Comments

  1. Danny and Richard on September 30, 2016 at 5:35 am

    I love your story Hillary ~ You are quite a writer!
    You should definitely write books on the subject for both the moms and the dads. You write with superb clarity with the humor life is all about!
    Hope You and the beauties got home safely and you are back in the pink! Hope your man is back to his strong and healthy self. You are blessed with him ~ he is an incredible father and beautiful person.
    Blessings for All of You ~ A Happy, Sweet, and Healthy
    New Year!
    Love BLONDZ ~ Danny&Richard

  2. Kathleen Cleland, MD on September 30, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Superb writing! Having had three kids, though not at the same time, I appreciate the humor in this. Babies do what babies want. Mother of spontaneous delivery at 39 and 5; 4 months of bedrest and crash breech c section, and last but not least induced VBAC. Find your zen moment new expectant Mommas! Healthy baby and Momma is the goal. Let go of expectations other than this and the experience will be everything you hoped it would be and so much more. Trust your OB team to guide your baby(ies) and you through the most amazing journey of your life!

    Sincerely with respect and love to all those who guide new life into this crazy world,

    Dr. Kathleen Cleland
    General surgeon

  3. Allison on September 30, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Very well wriitten! As always, I am impressed with everything you accomplish both at home and in your career!

    Liove you,
    Ally

  4. Mary on September 30, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Great story! I chuckled through it. I am so glad they are all healthy children.

  5. T.Andre MD on September 30, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    You summed it up perfectly – coming from an OB/GYN/mother of multiples/horrible pregnancy/babies come on their terms victim .

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