I am not necessarily a Type A person in all aspects of my life, but when it came to having a baby, I followed every direction, rule, and bit of advice my OB gave me. You name it, I was doing it. That included signing up for any and every ‘expectant parent class’ available, and creating a birth plan. My husband and I learned about breastfeeding, infant CPR, changing diapers, dressing the child, pet safety, home safety, and a million other valuable parenting lessons. Then came ‘Labor and Delivery’, and my birth plan went out the window.
I remember looking over at my husband within the first 15 minutes of class, mouthing a bunch of explicit words followed by ‘get me out of here’. Not that the information was bad or invaluable, but this was real life. No more staged videos, no more diagrams. We legitimately watched a lady go through the entire birthing process. I had less than two months to go, and I was on the verge of a complete mental break down. I told my husband the whole way home from class that I couldn’t do it (as if giving birth was running a marathon and I had a choice). I called my mom in tears, I had no idea how I was going to get that baby out of me, and that it looked like the worst experience of one’s life.
What is your birth plan?
My newly educated husband was really emphasizing the importance of natural birth. There I was scared to death and feeling like others would think less of me unless I went the natural route. Actually, I thought they would be disappointed in me. Because, you know, if so-and-so could do it un-medicated, surely so could I. Right?! You know petocin is bad for you. You won’t need an epidural, you’re tough.
I think I spent an entire night Googling:
- “pressure to have natural birth”
- “are you less of a woman for having an epidural”
- “how far into labor can you get an epidural”.
Yes, pregnancy hormones make you crazy! Everyone having an opinion on how you should have your baby can make you even CRAZIER. Needless to say, my outlook and birth plan evolved into a total disaster.
What my birthing experience taught me
Fast forward to August – my water broke, and the entire car ride my sunny-side up baby was causing hellacious pain on my back, to the point my legs were going numb. During that 45 minute car ride (which could have been longer had I said yes to my husband when he asked to stop for breakfast!) I didn’t once think about that yellow piece of paper with my birth plan so neatly written on it. I’m not sure if it was when I barfed in the middle of the lobby, or when my IV ripped out that I decided that this was MY birth, and that no one else’s opinion of me mattered. This was not the video I watched in class, and sure as heck not the gentle laboring where soothing techniques would calm my nerves. I was in serious pain that I did not like. TWO epidurals and 12 hours later I held a sweet baby boy in my arms. And to top it all off, my husband still loved me, and my sister with her bag full of natural soothing techniques was still proud of me. Heck, I was proud of myself.
Say what you want: I could of toughed it out, or I shouldn’t have given in to the pain so early. My answer of YES to the epidural, was a great decision. That was the route I chose.
Here’s what I learned after my baby’s birth that wasn’t taught in “Labor and Delivery’: what others say should not affect your birth plan or how you think others will view you. You’re giving birth, and that in itself is enough!
Did you have a birth plan? Did it chance once you went into labor? How did other’s opinions affect your birth plan?