When I was preparing for Fiona’s birth, I had A Plan. An actual, pen-on-paper plan that I’d written on the “Birth Plan” worksheet given by Kaiser Hospital to all expectant parents. I made a music playlist called “Birth.” My suitcase was packed. My mother was scheduled to fly out and be my birth coach.
Confident in my plan, I worked until two weeks before my due date, and scheduled my baby shower for the weekend following my last day at the office.
Fiona arrived, in what I’ve come to think of as “her customary dramatic style,” via emergency c-section at approximately the time my baby shower was supposed to be ending. I went to the hospital hoping for relief from what I thought was history’s worst case of heartburn; I returned home five days later with a teeny-tiny baby to a living room full of unopened baby shower gifts.
So much for The Plan.
When I was preparing for Campbell’s birth, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. I didn’t bother with a birth plan, didn’t schedule any relatives to fly out in advance, and skipped any baby shower. Instead, I focused all of my energy on preparing myself and my house for the new baby: I stopped work a full month before my due date, and during that first week off I stocked up on enough diapers and baby supplies to last until Campbell turned two. (Not exaggerating: we still had newborn-sized diapers left over when Georgia was born).
Campbell arrived, in what I’ve come to thing of as “her customary laid-back style,” ONE WEEK LATE. She even pulled a bait-and-switch by causing enough contractions to send me to the hospital (after calling my parents to tell them to GET ON A PLANE – THE BABY’S COMING!); a few hours later, the contractions stopped for another 36 hours, until Campbell decided that maybe she’d like to be born after all. (It shouldn’t surprise me that, to this day, Campbell is the HARDEST kid to get out the door). By the time she was born, I was about to lose my mind with the impatience and boredom of waiting.
When it was Georgia’s turn, I tried a more moderate approach: I worked a little closer to my due date, but made sure I was prepared well in advance. (By your third child, “preparing” involves buying one pack of newborn diapers). While I didn’t have a birth plan per se, we did book a doula to coach me through the delivery because Erick was so busy finishing his PhD.
Georgia arrived exactly one week early, and in what I’ve come to think of as my customary, “‘Hey, Georgia, you doin’ okay?’ style,” I barely even noticed; just prior to her birth, Erick had accepted a new job in Vermont, so my mind was full of the logistics of buying a new house, preschool registration, and packing-and-moving. (Of course, when we called the doula to tell her that the baby was coming, it turned out that she had the flu, so poor Erick ended up being my birth coach after all).
All of which is to say that I no longer put much stock in plans when it comes to birth. The old adage, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans,” seems to apply particularly to labor and delivery. I know almost nobody who got the birth they’d planned, and the odds diminish the more children you have. The few people I know whose Birth Plans progressed flawlessly always seem a little smug — at least, I have trouble judging them charitably. When they tell me about how they gave birth on a bed of roses surrounded by candles, listening to the soothing music of their labor playlist, while attended by a unicorn, I want to say, “OKAY, so you got a perfect birth experience. Let’s check in again in about 18 years, shall we? See if everything’s STILL going according to plan?”
I have no idea what to expect from Kiddo 4. He or she could come early or late. We’ve got some plans for grandparents to arrive in advance of my due date, but who knows? I just hope I’ll have time to buy a pack of newborn diapers and dig the baby clothes out of the bottom of the closet.
Despite all of these unknowns, I do have a plan for this blog. So here it is: you’re reading this post about 2 weeks in advance of my due date. For the next couple of months, the only new material you’ll read here (aside from a baby announcement when the time comes) will be my regularly-scheduled articles for The Addison Independent and On the Willows.
If that doesn’t seem like enough, have no fear! Here’s what I’ve done: I’ve had a lot of fun going back through the archives, pulling up some of my favorite posts from the past two years. I’ll be regularly re-posting these pieces through mid-July. The Pickle Patch readership has increased A LOT over the past year, so for many of you this will be a first look at some older material. For faithful readers who’ve seen these before, I hope it’ll be a fun re-read (or maybe you’ll say, “Boy, Faith sure was a lousy writer back then!”).
While I’m away, in addition to caring for a newborn, I hope to work on some new material. I have lots of ideas, and there’s nothing like round-the-clock feedings to spur the creative process. Stay tuned!
Thank you all so much for taking time from your busy, overstimulated days to read what I write! Have a wonderful start to your summer, and I’ll meet you back here in July!