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A birthing plan.
If you’re anything like me as a first time (and even second time) mom, you have a good idea of how you’d like your delivery to go.
You’ve read the blogs, you know what you’re packing in your hospital bags, and you know what outfit the baby is wearing home.
You know how you’d like to manage the pain that you know is sure to accompany this wonderful thing called childbirth.
I get it…because I have been there.
The need to feel like you have a sense of what will happen during your delivery is as strong as the urge to nest at home.
I spent late nights reading labor and delivery stories just to settle my biggest fear.
And it wasn’t really of pain.
It was the fear of the unknown.
Now I am pregnant with my third, and I have very little thoughts about how things will go down in the delivery room.
In fact, I’m positive I have no idea what it will be like.
You may think that since this isn’t my first rodeo I’d be feeling a little surer of things.
But the truth is, I’ve had two very different labors and each of them came with an ironic twist.
Pain relief when I had sworn I’d go natural, and then natural after I spent a whole pregnancy dreaming of another epidural.
With my first labor experience, I was fairly confident in my body’s ability to handle the experience without drugs.
I researched alternative methods to pain relief and steeled myself with the knowledge that women had been going drug-free essentially for forever…save the last 100 years or so.
Pain relief was a new concept, relatively speaking, and I knew my body was built to handle birth without anything.
Experienced moms smiled and nodded their heads at my musings.
I went to bed early one night about 10 days prior to my due date and woke up around midnight to mild but steady contractions.
I slept off and on all night while monitoring them but felt very little pain.
I had a regular appointment with my doctor at 9:00, so I went right on into work that morning.
I still laugh thinking about why I felt the need to work for 1 hour when I knew I was in labor.
At 9:00 my doctor checked me and confirmed I was getting there, but as a first-time mom, it may not be happening too soon.
I was encouraged to go home and move around a bit before checking into the hospital.
So, I ran the vacuum and walked the dog around the block.
I appreciated her calm rational advice and there was no “mad dash” to get anywhere.
But then discomfort turned into pain.
We had no sooner pulled into the hospital parking lot when I told my husband I had changed my mind.
I WANTED THE EPIDURAL!
It ended up taking some time (maybe 2 hours) to get said epidural and I was a grumpy miserable nightmare.
I was annoyed at myself for falling apart like this but I was worse to anyone who entered that room without the meds!
The labor was ultimately a quick one.
Our first son was born about 4 hours after arriving at the hospital and about 20-25 minutes of pushing.
We were told he was born facing upwards or “sunny side up” but otherwise it was normal childbirth, though nothing like I had been planning on for 9 months.
Less than two years later I’d have my shot at it again.
You may think I’d dive harder into my research for special breathing or birthing balls to achieve the drug free labor I thought I wanted.
But oh no.
This time I knew the magic that was an epidural and I was going to go in and sign up for mine before the pain even kicked in!
Easy breezy baby!
I woke up on my due date feeling sick.
I didn’t have any hint of a contraction, but I woke up earlier than normal and just felt “off”.
At work, I began having very sporadic contractions that I said were Braxton Hicks.
Unlike before…and unlike what I KNEW to be labor…these came and went randomly.
I may have 2 or 3 in a 20 minute period then go an hour with nothing.
Interestingly, these contractions seemed to respond to movement, so I walked around the office and wiped down desks to get them going.
But as soon as I returned to my seat they’d vanish.
This went on for 2-3 hours so I called my doctor who encouraged me to meet her at the hospital—it was my due date after all.
I spent the next hour driving home to meet my husband and get the bags.
I was fairly calm thinking how ahead of the game I was.
Last time I had given birth about 16 hours after my very first contraction started.
But this time I was going to be all checked in and ready for my beautiful epidural only a few hours or so after the first contraction!
Only it went nothing like that.
The dog got out, so we spent some time chasing him around the neighborhood for fear we’d never see him again, but the pain was fast approaching and we needed to HURRY.
We arrived at the hospital and by the time we were pulling out insurance cards I had lost my cool and needed a wheelchair.
They asked me how far apart my contractions were and I just said “on top of each other.”
What had happened?!
I was stressing now, thinking how I’d have to suffer through all this again since I knew it may take an hour or more to get that injection.
Well, within 30 minutes I was actually holding my new bundle of joy—not waiting on an anesthesiologist.
He came into the world so hard and so fast.
His little face remained bruised for a week (they say from dropping so fast and hitting the pelvic bone!). So much so, that we had to postpone newborn pictures.
Ah, the irony.
I had finally experienced my all-natural labor!
It was just not what I wanted this time around.
You can’t always get what you want, right?
After the initial shock of his fast delivery, I have come to really appreciate the easy recovery from going drug-free.
I was up walking around the second they let me– so jacked up on adrenaline.
It beat laying half-paralyzed in a room with my legs slipping uncontrollably off the table thanks to a strong epidural.
Or did it?
To think that one injection would have wiped away what was the most painful experience of my life had I arrived on time?
That epidural would sure be hard to turn down if I had my choice.
But, which way did I prefer?
Which option will I choose?
This third time around, the only thing I am confident of is that the exact details of this delivery are not mine to choose.
I couldn’t even tell you which route would be my ideal.
Because at the end of the day, my ideal labor and delivery is one in which I end up with a healthy baby handed to me.
I think it is wonderful for new moms to research and feel prepared about how they’d like things to go.
But not to the point that they may feel disappointment if and when things don’t go exactly as planned.
If anyone asks me these days what my birthing plan is for this baby, I just smile and shrug.
I know that setting my expectations too firmly in any camp only adds to the stress that is being a pregnant mama.
And life is stressful enough as it is to spend nights up late imagining I can control something I cannot.
Our new life with three little ones is going to require a laid back approach…I figure it might as well start in the delivery room.
Check out Taylor’s post Maternity Finds at Amazon.