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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Expect (07/11/13)

TITLE: Mother Knows Best...Sometimes
By Leah Nichols


"Let me take a look at your birth plan." I smile sweetly, but inwardly cringe. With their stack of pillows, exercise ball, and aromatherapy setup, this couple clearly has some preconceived notions about labor and delivery. It's going to be a long night.

Jeff, the father-to-be, eagerly digs through an overstuffed satchel, then triumphantly hands me the pink page, complete with a decorative font and pictures.

"Okay." I adjust my reading glasses. Tawnee & Jeff's Birth Plan: We are looking forward to a fantastic birth experience at Valley Hospital. We understand plans can change, but we would like for our wishes to be honored as much as possible, and that we will be advised regarding all medical procedures so that we can make informed decisions. "Great start, guys. I like that you're open to any changes."

Tawnee fidgets in the bed and furrows her brow. "We're open to changes, of course; that's why we're here. But you will be able to honor most of our wishes, right?"

I smile again. "I'm sure we can, yes. I'll compare your desires to our protocols, and we'll do our very best to stick to your goals."

Back to the birth plan. I quickly scan the page, looking for familiar phrases seen on most written plans, often copied from standard internet sites. Some parents even print out pre-written plans with check boxes. This one has its own personalization, but the key words stand out easily to the trained eye: intermittent monitoring, drinking liquids instead of IV fluids, natural methods of inducing labor, freedom to choose positions, no offering of medications by nurses, etc.

"How's that contraction?" I ask, my peripheral vision having caught the start of it on the monitor screen.

Tawnee breathes in and out slowly, closing her eyes. Jeff leans closer and reaches for her hand. "Shh...she prefers we not refer to them with that word."

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "What are you calling them?"

"Surges." He stares at her face. "Great job, honey," he cheers as the contraction ends.

"How was that 'surge'?" I repeat with the corrected term.

She smiles up at me. "It was definitely stronger, but I think I can handle it."

"Well, your endorphins will build up as you labor, so you should be able to tolerate stronger and stronger 'surges.' Just remember to relax, breathe, and take one at a time. Natural labor isn't easy, certainly, but you can do it if you remain focused."

"So how soon can I get up out of bed and walk around?" She leans into the pillows Jeff has positioned for her back.

"We'll monitor for twenty minutes to make sure the baby's okay, and then you can walk if your doctor okays it." I lay the birth plan on the counter.

She frowns. "Of course he'll okay it. He totally signed off on our plan in the office."

I clasp my hands together, and choose my words carefully. "It's probably okay, so we'll just make sure the doctor agrees. You may have some expectations of how things are going to go, but the doctor and I have worked with hundreds of laboring women. We have a slightly different perspective."

Jeff sighs. "See, darling? We're in great hands. Just trust the doctor and the nurses. They know what they're doing."

Ah, the voice of reason. This I can work with. "Great. Well, I'll give the doc a call, and you breathe through some more 'surges,' and we'll be on our way to having a lovely birth."

They smile at each other, and I duck out of the room. A quick call to the doctor ensures that the plan will be followed to the letter, and I breathe a sigh of relief as I gather extra towels and blankets. Maybe it won't be such a long night.

"Great news, Tawnee," I start, as I walk back in the room.

Jeff gives me a panicked look as Tawnee moans, rocking back and forth on the bed. "You wanna tell us about that epidural?"

"Um, is there a reason you're asking? This isn't on your plan." I indicate the light pink page still lying on the counter.

"Forget the plan! This hurts!" Tawnee squeezes Jeff's hand until it turns red.

"Well, yes, it does. Do you want to try walking around, or using the shower first?" I offer.

She shakes her head violently. "No. Epidural. Now."

"You're sure?"


Sigh. Yep - it's gonna be a long night after all.

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This article has been read 539 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Margaret Kearley 07/19/13
Great story - this brings it all back - the relief of an epidural! This made me smile and I'm sure many will identify!
Noel Mitaxa 07/20/13
Funny how an ounce of experience outweighs however many tons of theory. Your MC's approach shows a great balance between being clear and being patronising. Nice touches of humour...
Carolyn Ancell07/22/13
I love the balances you create and maintain: between MC and couple; between best laid plans, and meeting needs; between serious and humorous. A good read! Hope it wasn't too long a night.
C D Swanson 07/24/13
This was fantastic! Witty, funny, and totally true. I was a coach for a couple of friends who were filled with the same kind of "dewy-eyed" anticipation as your young patient. It turned on a dime after one hour!

You did a fantastic job through your knowledge of sizing up the situation, allowing them to take the floor, but knew when to "jump in" for
R E L I E F....

Love this!!! And, certainly on topic. Brilliant writing.

God bless~
Barbara Lynn Culler07/25/13
Congrats on your EC! I was eager to read to see what the outcome would be. I had visions of the husband resisting the meds though mamas demanded for them!
C D Swanson 07/25/13
Congrats!! God bless~
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/25/13
Congratulations on placing with this delightful story. Having recently been with two granddaughters who had babies (with epidurals included in their plans) your story made me smile.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/25/13
Oh I love this. You do a great job of bringing the characters to life. We should join forces and write about our experiences. Mine would be from 20-25 years ago and it would be cool to do a then and now book. Congratulations on your EC! Happy Dance!!
Laury Hubrich 07/25/13
I'm trying to put this couple in the place of my daughter and her husband - and it fits:) haha! Time will tell, anyway! Congratulations on a well-told story, Leah!
Nancy Bucca07/25/13
Great story and very well written. To me it too brought up memories: ironically almost the opposite of this. With my first, I allowed myself to get talked into an epidural, but after they gave me a second dose, I was too numb to push, so the doctor had to use forceps. Eventually I learned how to stand up for myself and not treat doctors and nurses as if they're all-knowing. Needless to say, the remaining three births were without anesthesia. We live and learn...
Leola Ogle 07/25/13
Haha...how I love this entry! Been there five times. Well written, and congratulations on your win. God bless!
Bea Edwards 07/25/13
Hehehe good one! Reality has a way of changing the best made plans. Just went through the birth of our second grandchild and yup 'epidural' was poo pooed until the 'surges' began to roll in.
Loved your cute take on the topic and congratulations!
Glynis Becker07/25/13
So true-to-life! Congratulations on your placement with a wonderful story!
Beth LaBuff 07/25/13
I love your humor, Leah, you totally made me smile. Super congrats on your EC!
Karlene Jacobsen07/25/13
FUNNY! It would be so sad if she's progressed too far to have that epidural. Never had one myself. But I could relate to the progression. Especially after convinced to have the Pitocin to "speed" labor.

Congratulations on EC, Leah. Great writing.

Judith Gayle Smith07/28/13
Being barren, I cannot quite identify (I have had kidney stones and are told it is quite similar in pain).

What a depiction! Thank you for showing me what I have missed. gurgle.

Hugs, Judi

Praise YHWH. Hebrews 10:26-31, Revelation 12:17