During my first pregnancy, my husband and I signed up for a generalized childbirth class that our hospital offered. It took place over the course of a few weeks and gave us the ins and outs of what to expect during labor and delivery and options for birthing options that we might consider. There was an array of things to consider (see list below), and to be honest, the options for birthing a child stressed me out a little.
- The Bradly Method
- Water Birth
- Home Birth
- Essential Oils During Labor
- Pain Medication During Labor
- Labor Coaching
- Birthing Balls
I’m not usually one to just go with the flow in these types of events. I’m a planner, start to finish, and a list maker. I’m Type-A , and I don’t like surprises. Unknowns freak me out. So, of course, I had some very specific items on my birth plan list during my preregistration appointment at the hospital – no epidural, no induction, no episiotomy, no c-section just to name a few. But after spending some time on pregnancy chat boards and talking to friends and family and strangers, I realized that no matter what the hell I did, there really wasn’t any wrong way to go about it. No matter how much I planned, in the end delivering my baby in the safest way possible was the most important thing. So, for about the first time in my life and for the absolute biggest moment of my life, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and threw my list away before sharing it with anyone.
I stepped into the hospital for an induction at 41 weeks pregnant, 100% effaced and 4 cm dilated with the most go-with-the-flow attitude that I’ve ever had. I was confident that trying to stick to that thrown-away birth plan was not for me. Letting go of my plan and my list was completely terrifying and overwhelmingly liberating at the same time.
After 13 hours of labor – with Pitocin-induced contractions, an epidural halfway through, essential oils to keep me from puking my brains out, an episiotomy, and 40 minutes of pushing – Kate was born. It was a pretty standard birth in terms of birthing another human. There wasn’t a whole lot of excitement, but at some point, I did tell everyone in the room to just shut the eff up so that I could concentrate. It wasn’t what I had originally envisioned, but it was safe and beautiful, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Kate’s birth taught me what I think I had realized before even going in for that induction: childbirth, though the most natural thing in the world, isn’t something that can be held to a plan. It’s full of surprises – good and bad – and beautiful though it is, can turn ugly pretty fast. For the biggest moment of my life, I let go of the planning and what I thought I wanted and needed and just let it be. I had some good surprises and some not so great ones, but the most important thing of all was that my daughter and I were both healthy and safe at the end of our L&D journey.
I’m quickly approaching another trip to the labor and delivery floor (December!), but I haven’t really thought about how I want it to go this time. I’ve been calling it my Anti-Birth Plan. I want my baby to be born in the safest, healthiest way for both of us. Only time will tell if that’s a completely unmedicated natural birth or another induction or a C-section. I can write it all out and shout it to the world, but in the end it’ll happen as it needs to happen. And once again, accepting this makes me feel more prepared than any list.