Many moms to-be are eager to download all the pregnancy apps the minute they learn they're expecting. These apps are packed with helpful tips and checklists to prepare for baby's arrival. One of the biggest, and scariest, tasks for me was creating my birth plan. I put it off as long as I could, and then what I finally wrote down was the exact opposite of what I wanted during the main event. Of course I never expected that before birth.
All of my requests seemed fine beforehand. I only wanted a fan, low lighting, pillows for comfort, and Christian music playing from my own playlist. Not a lot to ask for! After researching other birth plans out there, I learned that some moms get their doctor's okay and they eat actual food, not ice chips, during delivery. I definitely wanted to try that too.
I wanted to walk around and move whenever possible. I'd taken a birthing class and watched online classes, so I'd seen how it was done and knew that I could do it too. After all, I'd had a completely healthy pregnancy. I couldn't have asked for a better time, aside from morning sickness.
Let me tell you how it actually went down. I was scheduled to be induced, so we checked into the hospital the night before. I was nauseated by contractions even then. A fan would've been helpful, but we didn't bring one. Instead, my brother was visiting, and he (thankfully!) covered my face with wet paper towels. I looked like I was at a low-class spa. My nose was stuffy because I was so warm, so my dad left and went down the road to buy Breathe Right strips. Overall, not a good look for anyone — let alone a mom in labor — but it kept me cooled down and able to breathe, kept me from puking, and made everyone laugh, including me. So far not so good with the birth plan.
The pitocin started pumping at 7 am sharp. If you've been induced, you know what this means: intense labor pains. Time to dim the lights and turn on the music, right? Wrong. My contractions were terrible — right on top of each other from the very start. It was an out-of-body experience for me. I wanted the lights on and practically begged my husband to turn off the music after the second song. I needed silence. The pillows in my bed were used to prop me into different positions to help our baby drop down, not necessarily for my comfort. Birth plan desires: 0 for 3.
There was absolutely no comfort until my epidural came 3 hours later. Thank goodness for that. The relief was immediate and made me feel like I was sitting on a fur rug, wearing fur boots, in front of a fireplace in Aspen. (Can any mamas relate?) Even before then, though, my baby was hooked up to monitors, and there were so many wires and leads that I couldn't get up and walk, or really move a whole lot. I didn't expect that. Didn't they know this wasn't part of my plan?
As far as food went, I never asked my doctor if I could have a snack, and I'm glad about that. Food was the last thing on my mind, and he would have told me "no" anyway, with good reason; I ended up with a C-section. I'm glad the epidural was already placed, because the CRNA was able to put the spinal block medicine directly into my epidural catheter. My C-section wasn't an emergency, but who wants to wait longer than they have to? No time was wasted getting me ready for surgery.
When I finally sat down to write my birth plan, I saw where it was good to have an "If I Need A C-Section" Plan. I didn't want to include that. Deep down I knew I was going to have a surgical birth but, truthfully, refused to even consider it and did no research on it. I was totally unprepared. Completely caught off guard.
Everything that actually happened, aside from the epidural that I wanted all along, wasn't included in my plan. My body didn't follow my protocol, and it wasn't going to. I just didn't know that. If there was ever a time that I was 100 percent not in control, it was during labor and delivery. That's when I had to surrender to God and leave my care in the hands of my medical team. They are trained professionals. They know what's at stake and how to handle it. If you love your doctor like I love mine, you can rest assured that you'll be in good hands too.
Our next delivery will be a repeat C-section. Even if I didn't know that, I'd still be a lot more open to going with the flow just based on the circumstances of our first delivery. I probably wouldn't spend a ton of time crafting the perfect birth plan either. My plan was, unfortunately, a waste of time. All the moments I spent worrying about writing it were wastes of time. If only someone had told me that paper wouldn't dictate any of the events of our daughter's birthday. If only they had told me not to get hung up on writing it. I could have enjoyed certain parts of my pregnancy a lot more.
While it's comforting to go into labor and delivery with some expectations, you shouldn't get so caught up in creating a plan, and you shouldn't be surprised when things don't go exactly as you think they'll go. You really don't need that piece of paper. You don't need to stress about printing it out and making copies for everyone on shift. Instead, you should realize that, really, anything goes on what is sure to be one of the biggest days of your life, and no matter what, as long as you and your baby are healthy in the end, you will be okay. You might even come out on the other side stronger than before.