This is one story of a birth. It is not the same story twice.

The moment comes that you find out you’re pregnant. Your excitement grows. You plan everything -how your pregnancy is going to go, how the nursery is going to look, and how you want your delivery to be. You’re asked questions like delayed cord clamping? Breast feeding? Skin to skin immediately? What immunizations are you ok with? You go to your twenty week ultrasound so nervous, wanting everything to be ok. Thankfully it is. It’s smooth flying.

You get to 36 weeks and all has been well. Or maybe it hasn’t. It all depends on your pregnancy. Some have scares, some have none. Yet both still plan on how the birth is going to be. Do I want an epidural? Do I not? You go in for your check and your blood pressure is slightly elevated. Or the doctor sees something a bit concerning and wants you monitored and mentions the word induction. But you’ve heard inductions are unnecessary.

There are options. You can discuss them with your doctor. Questions to ask at this moment… What are the Benefits of inducing? What are the Risks of waiting? What if we wait two days? (Etc) What Alternatives are there? What other Interventions may happen or could be used? And what if we do Nothing? And then you talk with your partner and discuss. You decide that you trust your medical team and you’ve got this. You’re keeping baby safe. You’re keeping you safe. And you feel strong.

You labor for hours and hours. But the doctors start mentioning a cesarean. Wait. That wasn’t the plan. The plan was helping your baby come out gently. Your plan was to have your baby “naturally”. The doctors go through all of the above and make a strong case that it’s time. Here is the point of this story…. this wasn’t the birth you planned. What I want you to hear is this is the birth that happened and in no way does it take away from your story. You birthed your baby through your belly with the same warrior attitude as someone that birthed their baby through their cervix. You did everything you felt right in the moment and it has led you to this moment, this moment when you finally get to meet your little one. So hold your head high.

You succeeded. This doesn’t determine the path for future births. This was what this child determined as his or her path. You handled it just like a new parent… with power, with tears, with love. You handled it perfectly. Congrats on making the best decision in the moments. It wasn’t always easy. As your doula and photographer, I am so glad I got to support you through all of the decisions you made, without judgement, with support and love. Your belly birth was amazing.

Suzanne Ledbetter is a birth doula and birth photographer serving the greater Puget sound and Seattle areas including Tacoma, Renton, Seattle and all areas in between. She serves all local hospitals, including Valley Medical, Swedish, UW, and Multicare , all birth centers and home births.

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