Sometimes Your Birth Plan Goes South

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 11:24
Submitted by Carlin Ross

I was two days past my due date and I was climbing the walls. After spending three weeks sick with a head/chest cold, I finally felt strong enough to deliver so I headed off to my midwife for a cervical sweep to see if we could get things moving.

The next morning around 3am I started having contractions. Throughout my pregnancy, everyone was talking about pre-labor contractions but, let me tell you, until you have a real birth contraction you have no idea what sort of physical intensity you're going to experience bringing a new life into this world.

There's something pure about this type of physical pain because it's all consuming. You can't think about anything else...your mind and body are absolutely in sync and it's a totally new feeling. I wrote down the time between each contraction and, in less than an hour, they were 3 minutes apart and it was time to uber a car and head to the hospital.

We headed right to the birthing center and my midwife did a quick pelvic exam. She could feel my water balloon and break on her hand and then I saw her face drop. Right as my water broke Grayson decided to poop. Usually, if you're not past your due date, it's not a problem but now we ran the risk of him asperating the meconium. We were out of the birthing center and heading upstairs to the maternity ward.

I didn't have time to react. They had me in a wheel chair and on my way to Western medicine in less than a minute which is why I chose that birthing center. Grayson's health was our number one priority and if there was one complication I wanted every available option at our finger tips.

We labored for 15 hours and the power of those contractions was like nothing I've ever experienced (and I have an extremely high threshold for pain). At first, I met the pain with deep guttural sounds. When the pain got more intense, my sounds went higher in pitch which didn't help at all. Then I started chanting. I met each contraction with a sustained "ooooooo" and then "aaaahhhh" as my husband held my hands and rubbed my back. I could never have given birth without this man. He left the room for a brief minute and one contraction without him brough tears to my eyes. I felt the power of our relationship - of his complete support and love - throughout this experience.

As I continued chanting, images of the bodysex workshops with Betty holding the space flooded my mind. I felt the strength of all the women who've been in the circle and given birth swirling around me. Then I started to receive images of native american women and their birth rituals. I was visualizing female power.

I labored on my my side...on all fours...we tried doing rotations through all these different positions to get Grayson to move down the birth canal but nothing worked. Then we started pushing - it was like he was stuck inside me and couldn't budge an inch. We kept going until I was completely exhausted. They were giving me fluids intravenously because I'd started vomiting early on in my labor. No moisture in my mouth or throat...I was completely out of energy.

We made one last ditch effort at a vaginal birth - I finally consented to an epidural to bring down the intensity of the contractions and then some medication to quicken labor NOT THE BIRTH THAT I WANTED. Still nothing worked. They gave me some oxygen and then Grayson's heart rate started to fall. I could see the fear spread across everyone's faces in the room. It was time for surgery.

My husband looked into my eyes and said, "I know you wanted a natural birth but I can't lose you two. It's time to end this." I knew he was right and it was a relief. It was almost 24 hours since my first contraction and I wanted to meet our son.

Once we made the decision to end labor, we started to get excited. And I was amazed how fast they can perform a c-section. It felt like we were wheeled in and out of surgery in less than 20 minutes. And when we heard his first cry all the stress of the day just melted away. Then we found out why there was no way that I was going to give birth vaginally.

I'd gained a total of 14 pounds during my pregnancy - Grayson was born at 9 pounds. His head...his feet...his hands...he's huge. And his head was on an angle the whole time during labor. Unless he straightened out, I was never getting that body through my vagina.

He was nursing in the recovery room. His blood sugar tested normal and we were headed to my room. The unfortunate side of a surgical birth is that you have to spend the next 3-4 days in the hospital. In my birth plan, I calculated that I'd be in labor 8 hours and home from the birthing center, baby in tow, in 12 hours. Sometimes you're birth plan goes south.

The maternity ward is kind of like a modified bodysex workshop. It's all female nurses, female patients, and a support system to help you move into breastfeeding and motherhood. Other than my husband, I didn't have a post-birth support system so I really needed this experience. The nurses would wheel your baby into the nursery to give you a two hour sleep break and wake you up for feedings. If it was 2am and the baby was having trouble latching on to your nipple - they were there to support you through the process. It was reassuring to know that they were there to enable your parenting choices.

My hospital roommate was a young girl and it was obvious that hers wasn't a planned pregnancy. There was no excitement...and the staff kept asking her to chose a birth control method in the hospital. My heart went out to her. Then one morning I heard one of her doctors come in with a consent form to circumcise her infant. They weren't exactly pushing it on her but they were definitely pro-procedure.

I'll admit that her baby was crying all the time and it did disrupt my sleep but babies cry so what are you going to do? And I don't want to judge her or make absolute propositions but the change in her infant was alarming. We didn't talk really and the curtain between us was drawn at all times so my observations are all based on sound. His strong cries were replaced with this pained whimpering that sent chills down my spine. It was like his soul had been crushed. At one point, one of the nurses announced, "now he's a man" and I almost vomited. And his mother just kept "shushing" him every time he whimped for comfort. The last straw was when the nurses were applying vaseline ointment to his wounds and his whimpering became high-pitched cries of abject agony.

My eyes started to tear up and I called the nursery and demanded my son. From that moment on, Grayson never left my room. I confirmed that there would be no circumcision. And he slept on my chest my entire hospital stay. I know that's controvsial but since I'm all cut up any movement is painful so I knew that I wouldn't roll on him and with pillows on either side of the bed he was safe.

By the time I was discharged, I could have Grayson nursing on one breast and be eating..reading..checking email with the other. At one point, my surgeon and the head of nursing came into my room and were amazed by my ambidextrous skills. My whole body has acclimated to motherhood faster than I ever expected.

I have one last hospital story that's worth sharing. After all that labor and knowing that I wouldn't be leaving my apartment for a few weeks, I was desperate for a manicure/pedicure. When I asked the nurses if they had a service, they pretty much laughed in my face. Then I thought, "this is nyc. We pay crazy rent so that we can get whatever we want whenever we want." I started googling on my phone and in less than two hours had one of the top manicurists in nyc painting my toenails.

One by one the nurses came in and I could tell that they were impressed - impressed with my ability to take care of myself. I knew I needed a little reward for my efforts and I made it happen without feeling guilty about spending $160 on me. I didn't have any visitors or any flowers so I thought fuck it I know what's going to make me feel human again.

That together with the love and support I feel from Betty, our D&R community and social media friends has sustained me through the most physically challenging event of my life. Now I'm home with my son and my husband watching the snow fall as I make chicken soup. I just can't imagine anything being better or more fulfilling.

Life is magical.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Well Done!

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 12:47

Congratulations and best wishes for you & Grayson!

Be sure to take care of yourself as well as Grayson and get as much rest as possible. Happy, healthy babies need happy healthy mothers.


Thu, 03/05/2015 - 12:51

Grayson is absolutely beautiful.  Congratulations and best wishes to you all.

Herzliche Glückwünsche zur geburt

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 14:03
Dotty (not verified)

Congratulations to you and your husband and welcome to the world, little Grayson! Sending my best wishes from Berlin to NYC. Thank you for sharing your birth story.

LIke I said on the phone....

Betty Dodson's picture
Thu, 03/05/2015 - 15:00
Betty Dodson

That kid is so serious and determned, just look out.  No one is going to interfere with Grayson, the Boob Bandit. He even has worry lines already. I hope he didn't get them from me. I know, I know. I was prepared to be Aunt Betty. But since neither of you have parents availble, I'll be Granny BAD. It's an honor. 

I remember all our conversations about how I'd love to go through pregnancy and birth BUT not the never ending process of being a mother. I can barely handle being the Mother of Masturbation and that's only a concept. You didn't want to give birth but raising a child appealed to you. If I'd been younger, I could have had the baby and you would have raised it. And knowing Steve was by your side allowed me not to worry for one minute. Dodson & Ross is branching out with you adding Motherhood to our first person sharing. Good Job Ross. BAD Granny is VERY proud of us all.

Congratulations to you , your

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 15:25

Congratulations to you , your husband and beautiful baby boy!  Enjoy motherhood - every minute of it, but don't forget to take advantage of baby's sleeping time to get some well deserved rest, too!!! Aloha!

All the best

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 15:45

Congratulations. May joy and happiness fill the lives of you, your child, and your husband.

Just Love

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 17:27
Howie Gordon (not verified)

Every mother, every father,
Every birth, every child,
is the first and the one and only,
the story of us all.
Thanks for the doing.  Thanks for the writing.
Thanks for the sharing.  - H.  

To the beautiful mama

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 20:32

Congratulations on coming through the intensity of childbirth and
deepening your connection to your husband, your son, and life overall. A
warm welcome to Grayson. May his world be filled with health, love, and

Welcome Baby Grayson

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 20:50
Tippy123 (not verified)

Thank you for your write up and stellar reporting. Perfection. Love. Gratitude.

Understand completely

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 23:13
TeresainSC (not verified)

My birth went much the way yours did. I spent about 18 hours at my birthing center with wonderful midwives, got completely dilated and felt so strong. It was really hard, but I could do it, could breathe and work with the contractions. Amazing how strong our bodies are. I pushed and pushed. His head just wouldn't come down.

Off to the hospital, a few hours of pitocin and contractions with an epidural. He wasn't coming out.

C-Section, fast, and then... Oh, there he is! Wow. :)

I think more women should understand up front that your birth plan often goes to hell fast, so it's not such a surprise and it doesn't feel like you failed. Or your body failed. That's how I felt -- like my body failed me. And out of control, because it's like your body takes over and does what it's supposed to do, and other people take over  and do what they want or need to do, and I felt oddly like my brain and my will had been nullified by both. (Really didn't like that feeling.)

But then you have your baby in your arms, and it's amazing and how he got there doesn't matter so much to you.

Good luck with him. Breast-feeding mom tip: just keep feeding him for the two or three hours before you put him down for the night. Load up that tummy. He'll sleep longer. I sometimes fed my son at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and the put him to bed. It was a fussy time of day anyway. Worked for us. :)

Welcome to the world Grayson!

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 04:45
Pam Long (not verified)

I am so happy for you and your husband to have Grayson in you life.  Thank you for sharing your birth story. I understand  how we can have the plans written out but since we have another little human being involved you will learn quickly how fast plans can change in an  My oldest baby (Just turned 22 Feb 22nd) was the easiest birth, I wanted to have 10 more after her. I had the best midwife, the best pregnancy, the best delivery. The most empowering thing I have ever done.  The change in plans came 3 weeks later. I share this not to scare but inform. She came in contact with someone with a cold sore. She now has cerebral palsy.  I call her my sunshine girl because she smiles sunshine. 
My son who is 9 was another whole story, he was ready and didn't want to give me a break. He also decided to poop so thankfully to my awesome midwife he was born healthy and very He has been on the go since.
The end result is the most important. I remember looking down at both my babies amazed that I was part of both of these sweet little human beings and wondering what the world had in store for them. Also how my life was going to change. I can  say looking back over the years, I get inspiration and a reminder of the strength and power I have as a woman just from each of their births. 
What a wonderful gift and journey Grayson will give the two of you!

The Birthing of Carlin's First Child

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 10:34
Shaka (not verified)

Wow! This is a compendium of some amazing stories, a birth plan gone awry, "south" as you put it, the tremendous pain of the birthing process; a present  and supportive husband and some caring hospital nurses. 
While reading your story Carlin, I felt an almost overwhelming concern and sympathy for the many women who had to bear the pains of giving birth, 'all alone' with only the medical staff around. 
Thanks for sharing your story. The very best wishes to you and your son.

Joy Joy Joy!

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 13:18
Marianna Beck (not verified)

You managed to write so beautifully about this transformative experience. You are so amazing, Carlin! Life has changed forever and in the best possible way.

I am so happy for you!!

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 15:09

And super impressed as usual. And given a powerful model from with to learn and grow. As usual :) 
I don't even more words to express the gratitude I have for your work and for Betty's over the years in my life... 

May we go on to assist in the self-empowerment of all wimmin, which benefits everyone...
Welcome, Grayson!

Congratulations Carlin! As a

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 21:37
XL (not verified)

Congratulations Carlin! As a long time follower of the site I've been waiting on an update of your birth: it sounds magical and I loved the evocation of the strength of previous mothers in the bodysex workshops and Native American rituals! This is amazing and congrats again to you!

Congratulations, the whole family

Sat, 03/07/2015 - 03:27
Lizzie Smith (not verified)

Wish you every happiness and love. 
Dear Carlin, as soon as you feel like it, keep us posted. Your internet-family is looking forward to receiving updates on Grayson & his mother.
All the best to Grandmother Betty, too.
Lizzie and R.


Sat, 03/07/2015 - 15:36

Dear Carlin, congratulations to you and your husband! All the best to you and your family. Thank you for
sharing your story.


Miss Moonlight's picture
Sat, 03/07/2015 - 16:52
Miss Moonlight

Good one Carlin! Have you found out how those babies get in there yet :-)

Congratulations & Much Love to you

Sat, 03/07/2015 - 21:25
Abigail Stewart (not verified)

Life is magical, isn't it. Oh, Carlin, Congratulations. What a joy you've shared with us. I was away from the blog for some time and was so happy to return and hear your happy news. It's wonderful to know you and your family are doing well. Enjoy this time.  All my love to you. XO.

Baby love

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 04:47
PeterinNZ (not verified)

This is good news, the movement of us into the future continues.

And let us now praise science and modern medicine.
What a beautiful photo...

Did you know when you write Carlin, you

Cry Love In Sage Rants



All the very best.


Sun, 03/08/2015 - 05:26
Laura midwife (not verified)

What a woman! What a team! What a beautiful son. Thankyou for sharing your birth story. I can't  think of another thing you and your team could have done to achieve a vaginal birth. Its good to know that no stone is left unturned.  I encourage you to be confident in your chances of vaginal birrh next time. And may your next baby have his head straught!!!!  Congratulations Carlin, so delighted for you, you have done yourself proud x x x x 


Walter's picture
Sun, 03/08/2015 - 08:59

Congratulations and best wishes for a wonderful life going forward.

You Are Amazing!

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 10:29
Jane Jesse (not verified)

Congratulations Carlin!
I am so very happy for you and your little one - who is simply beautiful!
All the best to you, your husband and family.

I'm so proud of you Carlin.

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 14:30
C.Cilia (not verified)

I'm so proud of you Carlin. Grayson is absolutely charming. Enjoy this journey. Labor was the fun part. The hard job starts now.

New mommy

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 00:22
Izzie (not verified)

Congratulations on Grayson's birth! He is a beautiful little one.
Welcome to the world, Grayson ang happy BIRTH-day!!

My birthplan went south too,

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:48
Voila (not verified)

My birthplan went south too, I felt super well prepared, and then I had to give up because the pain was completely exhausting. My daughter's face was "upwards" which basically meant that She was harder to push out, I did manage in the end, but not without an epidural and 25 stitches. My second birth was so easy it was almost a joke, three pushes and she was out :)

I read somewhere that if you've had a c-section you should regularly stroke your baby's naked body head to toe, very gently mimicking what he would have felt being pushed out, supposedly it activates certain things (can't remember what).

Congratulations! Motherhood is amazing and exhausting. I recommend a ring sling, it keeps them calm and you mobile, and don't worry about co-sleeping, I did it with both my children, there's a mommy radar that prevents you from rolling on them, plus it means that you sleep so much better when you can just breast feed half asleep.

thank you

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 04:47
Caren (not verified)

belated congratulations! I have enjoyed your recent posts about Grayson but had not read about the birth -  as a labor and delivery nurse, I especially enjoyed your description of the maternity ward as a bodysex workshop! If only...  I am so happy for you that your experience was good, and so thankful that you are writing about the positive outcomes that Western medicine can bring. I am in a hospital that is SO western and medicalized and it is nice to hear an appreciation for the real life saving interventions that we can do. 
sigh... I wish we did not automatically circumsize. the MDs get consent of course and I have never heard it pushed but there is not much discussion about leaving our young boy babies intact. 
yes you did great to leave baby on your chest! We are "baby friendly" hospital and we are expected to keep newborn on mama's chest (and breast, even better) for at least the first hour after birth. we push that strongly! the family won't even know the weight for an hour, how can we weigh if we are doing skin to skin for the first hour? much better to bond than know the stats for the family! 
thanks for your positive attitude toward birth and "western"medicine and understanding priorities ... I wish every baby could be born naturally in a pool at home with chanting and whatever but that is not real life and so happy we can intervene and deliver healthy babies how ever we can! 

much love to you and Grayson

it would be amazing to have

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 08:11
Carlin Ross

it would be amazing to have more birthing centers for women.  I have this fantasy of centers where you can get your birth control, termination, bodysex circle, and maternity care all under one room.  Western medicine combined with female-based natural methods of contraception and birthing options....with an all woman staff.

A girl can dream.