I had a baby 18 days ago. This has made me consider a multitude of things as I sit up in the middle of the night with my breasts exposed and my sleep-deprived brain addled with questions. I have been considering most often the idea of having a “plan.” My stance on this has changed considerably in the last three weeks.
While I was pregnant many of the books that I read to try and prepare myself for the next stage of my life counselled that I had best write a birth plan to submit to the doctors and nurses who would care for me when I delivered. Only two weeks prior to my due date, I still hadn’t written up such a document. It was a bit of a curiosity even to me, as I am a teacher and writing plans is second nature. We always have a plan. We plan every moment, we work on tight time schedules and deadlines, I am comfortable with this structure and pace, I have done it for so much of my life. I re-read the birth plan chapter once again and started to think about what I would write in my birth plan.
The next day we went for our scheduled doctor’s appointment to check up on baby. What was meant to be a routine visit, turned out very differently. In the course of watching heart monitors the doctors determined that my son was experiencing great distress when I contracted and would likely not do well in labour. I was going to have a Cesarean section; that night. I cried when she told me this. And I wasn’t quite sure why. I had been telling myself over and over that I was open to however it was to unfold for us to get him here safely. I hadn’t written a birth plan… but apparently I had a strong preference for a natural birth. Whatever it is that I had subconsciously planned for myself, the idyllic way I pictured my son entering this world… I felt that all of a sudden it was all out of my control and I was relinquishing he and I to major surgery. Not the plan. Our doctor was kind and funny and sensitive and she asked me: what was my end goal? Was it not to have my son, healthy and happy and in my arms? Yes. The way she could guarantee that was by c-section. I abandoned my subconscious plan and prepared to have my baby arrive, 2 weeks before his due date, on Friday, July 13th- the luckiest day of my life.
Since Isaac has arrived at home with us, we have had to be much more creative with planning. Sometimes I plan to enjoy a nice cup of coffee after his morning feeding only to find out that he is not done feeding at all and I relinquish the cup to the microwave for later. Other times I plan to take him for a nice walk around the block, only to have him scream bloody murder as he is strapped in to his seat. I sometimes plan to shower, pee, nap… or a multitude of other selfish pursuits only to have them curtailed by his needs, which are exceedingly more pressing and urgent. Instead of planning and insisting on being in control; I am learning a new way of life and a whole new vocabulary. I am improving in my abilities to be more accommodating, easy-going, patient, and insouciant. I am determined to stop planning and just enjoy the moments as they come. The one missive that has been most repeated to Ben and I in the last few weeks is: “Enjoy every moment: it goes so fast.” Although the feeding frenzies at 3 a.m. that seem to last for hours don’t seem particularly speedy, I can see how he changes every day. I look at babies only a few weeks older than he and cannot believe how much growth can take place in such a short period. I don’t want to miss a moment planning for the next minute, hour or day. I want to treasure this most wonderful time we have together and seeing what he has planned for us.
I think often of John Lennon’s lyrics in his song, “Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy”:
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
‘Cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it’s a long way to go
But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans…
(Double Fantasy, 1980.)