When Things Don’t Go As Planned

As we waited to welcome our daughter into the world, I was surprised at how much of the pre-op I didn’t remember from my older daughter’s birth. Then I realized it was because we didn’t spend much time in that curtained room. As we waited and waited and waited, I remember thinking, “This isn’t what we planned.”

Finally, it was our turn and I found myself adjusting plans in my head unintentionally. There was still time in the day for big brother and big sister to get to meet their sister. Slight adjustment, but then we would get back to the plan.

As our daughter was born, I was relieved to hear her cry, but I could also tell that it had taken some maneuvering to get her out. I wasn’t surprised, I knew she was nestled down and turned sunny side up. I’ll get to see her in a minute I told myself again and again, but it was taken longer for her to get to us. I knew because I was able to hold our older daughter just minutes after she was born. I knew something was different.

The nurses explained that she had a little fluid built up, nothing uncommon for a 37 week baby, but that she needed a little oxygen and extra monitoring. Then as we continued to wait, they told us that they really needed to take her to the NICU for a bit. It probably wouldn’t be long and she would be back with us soon.

This isn’t what we planned.

They did bring her around to see me and I was able to kiss her head and welcome her into the world and then I had to wait. Wait to be taken to recovery. Wait to hear from the NICU nurse and the hardest part of all wait to hold her.

This isn’t what we planned.

We still decided to have big brother and big sister come to the hospital, hoping that maybe by the time they got to the room, we would have her back with us. They were in their big brother and big sister shirts. They were ready to meet their little sister. But she wasn’t back to us by the time they needed to leave to be go to sleep.

This isn’t what we planned.

Maybe you’ve been here, too. Maybe you have had things all planned out. You’ve even had the outfits ready for what’s ahead and there’s an interruption. And maybe it’s not just one disruption, but a series of things that you didn’t plan or plan for. At some point, if you haven’t encountered this situation, you will. Life is unpredictable and we all get to the places where we realize, no matter how much we plan and prepare, life happens unexpectedly and not according to our plans. In fact, we can’t control or predict just how things are going to go, especially when it comes to bringing new life into this world.

As I felt waves of disappointment wash over me, I also felt a deep gratitude in the beauty and delicacy of new life. As much as I want to bring new life into the world, I can’t. That is something only the Divine can do. After the gratitude came a deep humbling realization, I can plan things all I want to, but in the end life will still be unpredictable and unexpected and if we allow the unexpected to stop us from trying to plan life, we might actually get to savor life.

Maybe when my husband told me she was ok as he sat with her in NICU, I would have felt the same amount of relief if she hadn’t been in the NICU. Maybe when I finally got to hold my daughter, I would have felt the same way if she hadn’t been to the NICU. Maybe the smiles on her big brother and big sister’s faces would have been just as sweet, and maybe because things didn’t go as planned, I was able to treasure each of those moments much more deeply than I thought possible.