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I am a planner. A researcher. A
question-asker. If I have a big decision to make or a new experience on the
horizon, I consider all angles, call upon the experts and read the books; when
I feel like I'm equipped with all the information, I make a plan.
Giving birth was no different. In
fact, the births of my three children were probably the two most meticulously
planned events of my life—perhaps more planned and researched than my wedding!
I worked hard to create detailed birth plans that promised to give me the sort
of experiences I wanted. But both times, I walked into the hospital with a very
specific plan in mind … and promptly threw it into the trash—if not literally,
then definitely figuratively.
With my daughter's birth, I had
planned to labor at home for as long as possible. But when contractions
intensified, home was the last place I wanted to be and we hightailed it to the
hospital. I had packed snacks and planned to eat during labor, but food was the
furthest thing from my mind. I had hoped to labor in the bathtub but after
about a minute in there, I wanted to be on dry land. I spent hours creating a
playlist but ended up wanting complete silence. I had carefully chosen an
outfit to wear during labor, but stripped it off almost immediately upon
entering my hospital room. My birth plan specified that my husband and I would
work through the birth together. But for me, labor was a solitary thing,
something I wanted to do independently without much participation or dialogue
The crazy thing? Even though the
details of the birth looked so different from my birth plan, I still got exactly the birth I was hoping for—a
beautifully intense, unmedicated water birth that ended with my baby on my
chest and nursing right away. It couldn't have been more perfect.
So if I had it to do all over again, would I have skipped the birth plans? Not a chance.
A couple years later, I was pregnant
with breech twins. So we scheduled a C-section and I spent even more time
creating a birth plan than I did the first time around. My C-section research
and planning bordered on obsessive. I was afraid that my C-section wouldn't
feel as special or intimate as my daughter's birth, so I used my birth plan as
a weapon against those fears.
And again, the preferences I
specified on my birth plan were so different from what I actually ended up
wanting during the surgery. I had requested my arms not be tied down, but
during the C-section, I wished they were tied
down because they kept falling off the table. I had asked that both babies'
warmers be kept in my line of sight, but I just kept my eyes closed. I had
wanted to be skin-to-skin with the babies in the operating room, but when they
brought my boys to me, I was feeling nauseous and told my husband to hold them
skin-to-skin instead. And you know what? It was still a wonderfully magical
experience that exceeded my expectations.
So if I had it to do all over again,
would I have skipped the birth plans? Not a chance. Writing those birth plans
was such an important process for me because it gave me a reason to learn about
birth. It gave me a reason to have honest, open conversations with other moms
who had given birth in a wide variety of ways. It gave me a chance to talk and
write through my fears and concerns and to have important discussions with my
medical team. It gave me knowledge and I felt empowered by the process.
And that's just it. I think that
writing a birth plan is more about the process than the product. It's more
about preparing your mind, body and emotions than it is about getting it down
on paper. But for me, there was something empowering about having it all written
down. And there was something even more empowering about throwing that paper in
the trash and letting the intricacies of birth surprise me as I journeyed with
my babies toward that amazing moment when we met face to face.