But then sometimes, things take a bizarre turn that you never would have predicted.
At least, that's what happened to me during the birth of my second child. My first son was born via emergency C-section when the doctors discovered he was in distress. As it turned out, I would not be having the birth experience that I had vaguely planned for—and I do mean vaguely. I was not one for birthing classes and only had a pretty rough idea of how I was supposed to breathe noisily or something. Instead, I had a completely different delivery that involved an operation room and all my abdominal muscles being cut through and a terrifying few seconds before my baby screamed and I cried and laughed with relief that everything was going to be just fine, better than fine, really. Everything was about to be better that it ever had been.
I know that many women who wind up with emergency C-sections often feel cheated of a certain kind of birth experience. I was not one of those women. I was incredibly grateful that my doctor had figured out that something was really wrong with my son. He had the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck and was in extreme distress with every one of my contractions. But I also knew, when I was pregnant again, that I wanted to try for a VBAC, because I didn't want to go through the C-section recovery process again. I mean, I didn't want to go through that recovery process again so badly that I was willing to push a tiny human being out of my vagina instead and risk getting stitches in a whole new place. So, yeah, I really hated the C-section recovery process.
I was lucky enough to have an amazingly supportive doctor who was confidant that I was the perfect candidate for a VBAC and so I moved blithely through the months of my second pregnancy, not making too much of a birth plan, sure that I could still rely on that heavy breathing that I'd never really needed to use. Well, I wasn't so much moving blithely as I was waddling blithely, but you get the picture! When the day came and the contractions started arriving hard, I went with my husband to the hospital.
Here are some things we talked about on the way:
You know, normal things.
Would my husband go running out of the delivery room as our son's head started to crown saying, "I need to leave or I will never be able to give my wife oral pleasure again!"
The reason why we didn't talk about it is because I never, ever, in a MILLION years would have thought this would happen!
But it did. Oh, did it happen. I can still remember the sympathetic and horrified look in my doctor's eyes as she gazed up at me briefly from between my legs and told me to push.
And I did. It took one push and there he was. A six-pound squiggle of a boy with skinny chicken legs and no hair and wide-open, dark eyes that I felt like I disappeared into. So hard did I fall in love with this baby. And for a minute there, it was just me and him, like it had been just me and him for the nine months before. When my husband came back in and took our new son in his arms, I started laughing. Laughing because I couldn't be mad at him for running out, laughing because I wondered if I would feel the same way if I were him, laughing because there was no space for anything other than happiness in that room, laughing because none of it mattered, nothing that we planned for had ever gone exactly as we thought it would and that was just fine.
It's funny because I've told this story to so many of my friends and family (and now, with this piece, many, many more people) and the reaction I get is always one of amusement and horror.
"Weren't you furious with him?" people ask. "Didn't that make you feel terrible?"
And the thing is, it didn't. I felt sort of terrible for him because he wasn't quite smart enough to realize that, instead of fleeing the room, he could have just moved closer to my head. But I didn't feel terrible for myself. In his own weird way, he was thinking about me and about the rest of our lives together. Lives that would happily still include oral sex, which is never a bad thing (unless, of course, it is a bad thing, but that's another issue entirely.) And even though it wasn't the birth experience I'd anticipated, I remembered that my first birth experience hadn't gone according to plan either. And whatever happened in the delivery room that morning, I was still left with my little, chicken-legged guy, who made me happier than I even knew was possible.
Also, I was left with the tacit promise of oral sex, which, you know, is another happy-making thing.