When I was pregnant, I planned for everything. Everything. With my first, my son C., I was working in a high-rise, 42 floors up, two trains and a decent car ride away from home. I was pretty convinced I was going to go into labor when I was anyplace but the comfort of my house, so I made sure I was ready in the form of a litany of items I carried in my briefcase: photocopied pages of instructions of what to do if you go into labor and you are by yourself or not near proper medical attention (read: stuck in an elevator); bottles of water; even clean towels.
Still, for all my fretting and worrying (needless of course, I was home on leave when my contractions started for reals), the element of surprise when it comes to baby’s arrival is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy (gender too).
I mean, labor can happen at any time. And once those launch codes have been initiated, that’s it. Get thee to a hospital, birthing center, your bathtub — whatever makes you happy. Doesn’t matter what you have going on — Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, big sale at Target, Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s — baby is coming. It’s time to stop, drop and roll. (You can go back for the shake later, it’s usually around for a little while after St. Patrick’s Day.)
When we were expecting our third child, son S., my husband T. and I were in a bit of a panic. S. was due May 8. From about April 15 until about May 15 every member of our family had multiple things to do. Between the four of us, there were countless baseball, softball and lacrosse games and practices, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, T. was going away for work — it just didn’t stop.
There was one day — April 30 — where the calendar was free and clear. So while we wished and hoped that S. would grace us with his presence that day, even if I had been given the choice to have him be born then, I would have heartily refused. (In case you were wondering, he actually showed up on his due date, and yes, T. was away but got back in time.)
The thought of choosing my baby’s birthday — through a scheduled c-section or labor induction — gives me the shakes. Because to me, the day a baby joins the rest of us here on earth should not be chosen by a mere mortal. It’s not a religious issue though, rather, more of a spiritual one, in the sense that I believe the birthday should just be left up to natural forces. There are too many things that I don’t understand — astrological, metaphysical, extramundane — that are at play here. Who am I to go near them?
The reality is though, sometimes, for medical reasons, a doctor must intervene. And while in an emergency situation, the date is chosen for you, as long as everything is relatively OK, choosing the baby’s birthday is often left up to the parents in the form of scheduling a c-section or an induction.
To which I say, oh no way.
Now my babies have all come naturally. But to to protect myself from the far too awesome task of having to choose my baby’s birthday, in the event of a scheduled c-section or induction, I always had a plan in place where the baby’s birthday would still be left up to a power other than me or my husband. It requires the cooperation of many, and everything must go right in order for it to be carried out successfully until the end, but it’s doable.
It’s actually pretty simple (snort):
- Go for any pre-procedure testing before I have to pick a date.
- Designate a friend I trust who I’m close with, but don’t speak to every day as my point person. It’s important that this person isn’t in contact with members of my family either. (In my head it’s always been my dear friend for more than 25 years who lives five states away, Tracy.) Unfriend her on Facebook.
- Make it clear to all the medical professionals involved in my care that I do not want to know when I’m coming in for the procedure. Change my contact number to Tracy’s number (in case they call to remind me of my forthcoming appointment).
- Have Tracy get the list of suitable dates from the doctor. Make sure all are included in the selection process. Even if I have 416,000 things to do on one of those days, it is still eligible.
- Have Tracy choose a date at random and notify the doctor’s office of what it is. I don’t care how she does it (pulls slips of paper out of a hat, throws darts at a calendar), as long as the process is completely arbitrary. No choosing a date on purpose. (This is why having a point person you trust implicitly is so important.) She is to tell no one except the doctor’s office what the date is.
- Avoid Tracy — no contact at all — until the big moment arrives and she calls — 12 hours before I’m due at the hospital. I’m officially in labor.
Easy peasy, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Would you choose your baby’s birthday? How would you do it?
Even though Suzanne chose her son’s birthday, I think his birth story totally makes my point.