At the beginning of this current pregnancy, I was more prepared, more focused, and much more ready than I was for the birth of my daughter seven years ago. Rather than the pregnancy itself being the focus of my life as it was then, I was already thinking ahead to the arrival of the baby, and working out the logistics of birth and newborn care. I wasn’t very proactive about the birth of my first child, my fear of the entire process led me to just do as the doctor told me- and while I in no way felt he misled me or did a poor job — I felt strongly that being more active in the process could have saved me some pain (and possibly a few extra stitches) in the end.
Long before we made that ‘end-of-the-first-trimester-safe-zone’ announcement, I set out to arm myself with information. I bought twenty or so different books, ranging topically from c-sections to homebirths, joined every pregnancy website I could find, pored over every birth story I could get my greedy little hands on, and began deciding just how things would go this time around…
I would be in control. I would be one of these powerful, birth-goddesses I kept reading about. I wouldn’t let people bully me about my ideas, I would be strong. I would be ready.
I talked with my husband about each aspect of the plan, just in case something were to happen and I needed him to speak up for me. Everything was clear, from the point at which I would consider pain relief to the amount of time spent on perineal massage, to the absolute necessity of rooming in. Every aspect of the entire process, from check-in to discharge, was clearly decided and backed up with my own extensive
As I discussed ‘birth plan’ plans with other expectant parents, I began to notice a trend. While none of these mamas went into labor thinking they knew exactly how it would go, many were shocked when the course of events necessitated great deviations from ‘the plan’. Some even felt they had failed at childbirth, despite bringing beautiful, healthy, thriving babies home with them. Depression over not achieving their ideal birth followed women who I had seen to be brave, strong, and otherwise reasonable about their expectations.
Logically, we know that a plan is just that — an idea of how you would like things to play out under ideal circumstances. Then there’s back up plans, and contingency plans, and alternates… sometimes we think we can cover all our bases and avoid the element of surprise.
But babies have a special way of dodging all your best-laid plans, by entrenching themselves in a breech presentation, arriving early, or even making their debut in the backseat en route to the birthing center.
So I sat down and thought about it for a good long time, and deleted my birth plan from the interactive planner, tore up the copy waiting to go in the hospital bag, and expunged it from my hard drive.
I still have my ideas about what I want, and my husband and doctor are aware of them. I still have choices and options, and know which way I’ll likely decide in a given situation. But I have given up the idea of planning from beginning to end something as intrinsically spontaneous as labor and childbirth.
My birth plan? To have a baby, of course.