Planning for the Average Birth

With Mother’s Day coming up, we’re taking this week to share stories from our own Twin Cities Moms Blog Contributors on how they became mothers. We all have unique stories, and some of our stories are still being written. We hope you enjoy reading about these moms’ experiences!

My husband and I sat on pillows on the floor in a circle surrounded by other couples. We were all there for an intense half-day crash course in what to expect when our day came and our babies decided to enter the world. Our facilitator was perhaps an actress in another part of her life. She dramatically acted out each stage of labor to the amusement of her pupils. She spoke in averages. We were told to expect a slow progression through phases beginning with a vague realization that something feels different through full-blown, pushing labor. All told we were told this would take 11 – 18 hours, on average.

It’s probable that we were educated on other birth scenarios. But as a science-minded person, I took this information on the average birth and started planning for the unplannable event. I sat in prenatal yoga and visualized my labor progressing slowly over the course of a day. It would gradually build in intensity in a way designed by Mother Nature to allow women to get a handle on what was to come. Of course, I knew stories of women who labored for short hours and pushed once to pop out a beautiful, healthy baby. Those were outliers though. I planned for the average.

It turns out, this birth was not average. Careful planning and meditative visualization? That meant nothing to my body when it decided that my daughter should be evicted as quickly as possible. Breathing techniques, birth tubs, and playlists? Yeah…a body that goes into labor like a race car going from zero to sixty doesn’t care about planned comfort measures. My body was going to do what it wanted to do.

That meant that after working all day with no signs of labor, I waddled home saying “See you tomorrow” to my co-workers. It meant that my husband and I took our planned walk around the mall and had spicy chicken wings and onion rings for dinner. At 39.9 weeks pregnant, I was doing everything to induce labor…and, I guess it worked.Planning for the Average Birth | Twin Cities Moms Blog

At 10 pm that night my water broke as I lay in bed. I changed clothes and shuffled down to leave for the hospital as my husband set the “out of office” on his work email. We were planning for average and that meant that he had plenty of time to organize his life before we headed out. Before he could make it down to join me, I was sitting on the toilet, with intense pressure building, and screaming that he had to finish. RIGHT.NOW. (That may be a kinder vocabulary than what I used in real life.)

I had to sit sideways with no seatbelt on the way to the hospital because the pressure I felt wouldn’t allow me to sit properly in the seat. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. It was supposed to be hours before I reached this point. The average labor is between 11 and 18 hours. I had plans and playlists. Mostly, I was supposed to have more time to get used to this. This was not average.

Not average is arriving at the hospital 8 centimeters dilated only 30 minutes after your water broke. Not average is delivering your baby 3 hours later after 2 hours of pushing. Not average is delivering your baby in the early morning hours of your due date.

What was average about my not average birth? The fact that my careful planning for an unplannable event was, while not exactly a waste of time, not super helpful. My body had a plan that defied all averages. This was probably the best preparation I could have received for the parenthood journey to come. As it turns out, your child is likely to defy averages too. Despite all your planning.

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