My birth plan didn’t quite go as planned

Katie Lolas (@lady.lolas) Instagram entrepreneur and high school teacher shares the unexpected twists with the birth of her second child – and in life postpartum.

We’d scheduled a June Caesarean delivery for our second baby, as we had done with our first just over two years ago. Harper’s birth was a calm, smooth experience that gave me a sense of control during Covid lockdown conditions. Eli’s birth couldn’t have been more different.

Four days before our planned C-section, I was bedridden thinking I had full-on gastro. I couldn’t stand up straight, was off food and would get the occasional sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I called the hospital who said that if my belly was still soft to touch, the pain probably wasn’t contractions and to manage with Panadol, fluids and rest.

The next day I woke up at 4am with intense cramps that would last for short periods and return quickly. I couldn’t talk and would sweat profusely every time a cramp came on. I decided to call the hospital and, sure enough, they wanted me to come in immediately. I was so frazzled and may have been in a bit of denial because I just wanted to double check my hospital bag and potter around our house to feel ‘organised,’ much to my husband’s horror.

Luckily, we live near the hospital because as soon as we arrived, the midwife checked me, said I was 8 centimetres dilated and called my OB-GYN immediately. He explained that he was on his way and that only safe option at this point was a vaginal delivery. He also explained that my pain management options were limited, a.k.a. non-existent. I. Was. Terrified. However, I trusted him 100% and knew I just needed to follow his lead to keep myself and our baby safe.

Meanwhile, the midwife was running around preparing the birthing suite and I still had no understanding of how close I was to popping this baby out, despite my intensifying contractions. It was wild. Our baby was determined to enter the world and there was no stopping him. I pushed through two contractions assisted by my OB-GYN and by the third he asked me to reach down and help guide my baby into the world. I heard a cry and our son Eli was placed on my chest. I did it, and all by 6.10am! I was very much in a state of “what just happened?!” My OB-GYN and the midwife on duty were complete legends who helped me navigate a truly terrifying experience – but what an experience.

Fast-forward to postpartum life as a family of four, well five including our dog, Rupert. Honestly, it's not easy at the moment. We are getting through hour by hour, day by day.
The hardest part of this newborn phase so far hasn’t been the broken sleep, my pericarditis diagnosis, the postpartum pain, bleeding, anxiety, or baby blues. It is how challenging this transition has been for our Harper; seeing her filled with such frustration and rage has been truly heartbreaking.

We did a lot to prepare Harper for the arrival of her baby brother. We talked with her, read books (she particularly loved There’s a House Inside my Mummy), and had a present for her ‘from Eli’ when he was born. I made a great Busy Basket with a range of activities to keep her happy when I was tied up with the newborn. But like birth plans, life has other ideas, no matter how much preparation you do!

I definitely find that with the second I’m more efficient, even though with two it takes more time and planning to get us out the door. I’ve always had a gift for organisation though and I love to share ideas on my Insta. My nappy bag is really good, even if I say so myself! It contains Huggies Newborn Nappies, Huggies 99% Purified Water Baby Wipes, a change mat, breast cover, Huggies Pull-Ups for Harper, snacks, water and treats for our dog.

I think it’s important for new mums to be open to the possibility that their birth plan may not go quite as planned. Same with life postpartum, sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos and, I can’t stress this enough, be kind to yourself. Of course, the focus of birth is on the baby but it’s also a ‘birth’ of women into mothers, too. It will take time to feel like yourself again and to adjust to your new identity and role as a mother. If you are struggling – mentally, emotionally, physically, or psychologically – know that you don’t have to get through it alone. There is so much amazing help out there, believe me. It really does take a village.

16/09/21 - min Read

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