To The Mama Whose Natural Birth Plan Fell Through

You spent countless hours throughout your pregnancy dreaming about your birth. You researched all your options thoroughly and decided you wanted to labor as naturally as possible. Maybe you picked out a midwife for your care, maybe you hired a doula, maybe you chose a birth center or home birth. You started practicing prenatal yoga to learn how to control your breathing. You drank gallons of red raspberry leaf tea. You saw a chiropractor and did all the right exercises to get your baby in an optimal position for birth. You carefully made your birth plan and you were oddly looking forward to labor. You were prepared.

But then along the way things got a little tricky. Maybe your baby was breach. Maybe your water broke but contractions would not start. Or you were two weeks past your due date. Your blood pressure spiked. Your baby was estimated to be quite large. Maybe contractions came on strong and 2 minutes apart when you were only 3 centimeters dilated and they never slowed down. Or you stopped progressing at 5 centimeters. Maybe you were just not ok with how out-of-control your body felt at 7 centimeters. Maybe your contractions stopped altogether at 9.5 centimeters. Or you pushed for hours and the baby did not descend. Honestly, maybe the pain was just way too much and you simply couldn’t do it anymore.

So you transferred to the hospital, you were given Pitocin, or they broke your water, you took narcotics, or you got an epidural, an episiotomy, or you delivered your baby via cesarean. You experienced first hand the dreaded cascade of interventions and your natural birth plan fell through.

At first, you’re relieved that it’s all over. You made it through, you’re holding your baby, you fall in love and just as they said you would, you forget all the pain. It becomes a distant memory. But then you start to wonder if it was really that bad. You start to think about everything you could have done differently. You question the decisions you made and you start to grieve for the loss of the birth you had been dreaming about. It’s the happiest day of your life and yet you feel sad at the same time.

When you open up to people about these feelings they recite that overquoted line: “All that matters is that you have a healthy baby and a healthy mom.” And then you feel guilty because that’s not all that matters to you. You aren’t content, even as you hold your perfect newborn that you love so much. You had a dream but you didn’t achieve it. And it hurts.

In this picture, I am in a hospital, dressed in a gown, hooked up to continuous fetal monitors, on Pitocin and an IV. The lower half of my body is numb and immobile due to an epidural and I am being coached on how to push while laying flat on my back. None of this was in my plan that I literally spent years dreaming up and yet its all part of my oldest daughter’s birth story. I know those feelings, mama. And I’m here to tell you, it’s ok.

It’s ok that you didn’t birth according to your plan. But it’s also ok that you feel the way you do. A healthy baby may be the most important thing, but it’s not exactly all that matters. Your feelings MATTER. The fact that you’re grieving right now MATTERS. Talk through these emotions with someone who will listen because your well-being MATTERS.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to master a process that we will only actually experience a handful of times in our life and there’s no way to truly practice for it. Be gentle with yourself. Remember that you sacrificed your desires to get your baby in your arms which is really what mothers do day in and day out. Maybe you need to reframe your mind to be grateful for medical interventions that got you through. And while natural childbirth is usually safe and it’s totally valid to continue to desire a natural process, maybe you need to remember that without many of these interventions, there were women and babies who died in childbirth. Interventions have a rightful place. Maybe you need to take this experience and use it to better prepare for a natural labor next time. We live and learn and grow and evolve and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There are women all over who are experiencing the same grief that you have. Reach out to them, let them encourage you, and build them up as well. Help them see that women are not defined by how they give birth. You will move on from this. Remember most of all, you matter and you are not alone.

Did your birth experience go differently then you had planned? Did you have trouble dealing with it? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Homemade Bone Broth and Garlic Onion Tea

Bone broth is one of the most delicious ways to boost your immune system, it’s so easy to make, and it’s way better for you than store bought broth. It’s a wonderful replacement for morning coffee or evening tea and it makes soups that much more nourishing. Bone broth is also a great first food for babies as it’s so good for their gut health. I started taking broth when I was pregnant and couldn’t take other medicine but it works so well that it’s always my first option now. Whenever I start to feel the tiniest bit sick I drink a cup or two a day and my symptoms just quietly slip away. I love it!

You can make bone broth with chicken, turkey, beef or really any animal bones. I personally think turkey gives the best flavor but today I used chicken. I start by cooking a whole chicken in a crock pot with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can omit these if you’re cooking for a baby. I usually start this around noon so the chicken is ready for supper.

While that’s cooking I prepare my vegetables. First, I wash whole carrots and celery but I only use the carrot peels and the celery tops in my broth. I then cut them up and put them on a sheet pan to save for dinner.

Then I cut an onion in half but I leave as much of the peel on as I can, as long as it looks healthy. I treat the garlic bulb similarly although it can be a little tricky to cut in half so if you have issues you can cut each clove in half instead but again, leave the peel on. There’s so many vitamins in vegetable peels that will then be in your broth.

About twenty minutes before the chicken is ready I put olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on the carrots and celery I reserved and roast them in the oven at 375 degrees.

Once the chicken is cooked through I take it out of the crock pot, leaving all of the juices inside the pot. After it rests a bit I start to take it off the bone. I will be honest, if you want a nice tutorial on how to beautifully carve the chicken, you’re going to have to look at someone else’s blog. I haven’t mastered that so I just cut and pull as much off as I can. I use about half of it mixed in with my roasted veggies for dinner and the other half I use throughout the week for chicken salad, soup, or casseroles.

All the bones and the entire chicken carcass go back into the crockpot with the juices and the celery tops, carrot peels, onion, and garlic go on top. You may add more salt if desired. Then I fill my crock pot the rest of the way with water and turn on low for the next 12-24 hours. Personally, I think it fills my house with a nourishing aroma although I know some do not enjoy the smell. Hopefully you do!

Whenever I have a convenient time in that 12-24 hour window I turn off the crockpot and strain the broth. I like to store my broth in a variety of different sized mason jars so I have the right amount for whatever I’m making. I even put some in ice cube trays for when I just want to add in flavor or for feeding a baby. The majority, however, goes in pint jars because I think it’s the perfect size for a drink. This batch made a total of 15 cups! The jars can then go in the freezer pretty much indefinitely.

Ideally you would then thaw your broth in the fridge but I never think that far ahead of time so instead, I fill the sink with hot water and place a jar in it just until it’s thawed enough to pour out into a sauce pan to heat on the stove. Get it just to the point of boiling and then turn the heat off. Do not microwave your broth. That destroys most of the vitamins and nutrients in it, leaving it basically useless.
You can drink your broth just like that but I often like to take it a step further and make what I call Garlic Onion Tea. When my husband’s Amish family gets sick, they boil onions in water, call it onion tea, and drink it. I couldn’t quite stomach this idea when I was pregnant but then I read about garlic lemonade in Aviva Jill Romm’s The Natural Pregnancy Book and she suggested boiling garlic and a bouillon cube in water to make drinking it more palatable. I thought that was brilliant so I combined homemade bone broth, garlic, and onions in one drink to make a kick arse, illness fighting solution and honestly I think it’s delicious (although my husband refuses to put garlic in his). I just mince garlic and onions and put them in the broth as it’s heating up. Sometimes I even add a few red pepper flakes to really combat congestion. Then I drink it down garlic, onions, and all and within a couple days I find that my congestion never turned into an actual head cold or other illness and my runny nose goes away rather than lingering for weeks. It so amazing what the human body can do! I so hope you enjoy this as much as I do!