It’s been exactly one week now since Ryan opened our recently-declared “life-sustaining” business to the public again, and though that’s great for the people who come to us to strengthen their skeletons, we’ve had to make some tough decisions as a result. In seven days, we have self-isolated, relocated, and completely changed our birth plan.
In my last blog post, which seems like a relic now, I wrote about making decisions like an economist, evaluating the quality of the information you’re getting and weighing the costs and benefits personally before making a choice. When I think back to that Megan—early March Megan, that sweet summer child—I want to roll my eyes so hard at her and her glib decision-making “hacks.” Choosing to cancel a weekend trip, at this point, feels about as easy as choosing which black leggings I’m going to wear this morning.
And I wear black leggings every day.
Real talk: it’s just not a fun time to be pregnant. I’ve enjoyed all of my pregnancies and I’m fascinated with what my body can do on its own, but this time, the wonder is clouded by the uncertainty, doubt, and fear we’re all facing. I hear stories of hospitals and birth centers changing policies on a dime, requiring unnecessary interventions to keep medical staff available, and though I completely understand and appreciate these policies on an institutional level, I draw the line at being subject to them myself.
Ryan and I thought about another home birth and hiring a doula, but the people we spoke with made it clear that plans are all up in the air and everything is dependent on an institution’s policy at 40 weeks. A home birth may not happen. A doula may not be allowed into the room. Pitocin may be required to speed along labor, and Ryan may be forced to leave directly after the baby’s birth.
“Birth plans” get a bad rap, but the numbers simply aren’t in a mother’s favor if she has no plan at all. Fear will get the better of anybody if they haven’t come to terms with how they will manage it, and for me, knowing the environment I will birth in and the people who will be with me matters. Of course, I remind myself that I’ll accept any path my baby’s birthing takes (which came in quite useful when Clark was born and my midwife almost didn’t make it to my house) but putting myself at the mercy of people who might see me as just another fleshy baby prison isn’t a risk I’ll take. And so we transferred care to a place I’m more comfortable with—I won’t give any more details now, but I will say that the choice was hard and it’s not going to be easy for anyone involved, but I took my own stupid advice about making decisions like an economist and landed on something I think could be a much better option, if baby cooperates.
We’re also in Kentucky.
While Ryan attends to the bones of our members, the boys and I are here in Louisville with my parents. Ryan’s been incredible, mailing us letters almost daily and checking in regularly, but something I realized about myself lately is that I crave collaboration, and I miss working, parenting, and writing with him. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be here, but we know we have to stay safe in order to make the new birth plan work.
And now, with the general public getting bored of social distancing, we’ll have to be even more vigilant to get this baby out safely. It doesn’t seem fair, especially when I think of how the US leadership could have handled the outbreak, and how it actually did.
Life isn’t fair, I know. And some days I’m ready to accept that and move forward with my head down and my heart steeled. But some days I need to say it, out loud to a friend or in a blog post or just quietly to myself: this sucks. Sometimes the costs and benefits don’t come out in nice, neat rows. Sometimes they look like two terrible choices, and the one you choose doesn’t have any benefit to you at all. Sometimes the benefit looks more like smoke in the air than an organized, bulleted list. Sometimes it’s all cost.