Since I was a freshman in college, I’ve been in awe of the beauty and magic of natural childbirth and was adamant about having a natural birth. I knew that when I would become a mother, I would have a beautiful, peaceful, natural birth to transition myself and my baby into our new partnership.
So when I became pregnant in 2016, the first thing I wanted to do was craft my most perfect birth plan. I reread many books that I had read before and found new ones to help me construct the ideal birth plan. I identified what I wanted to have happen at each step of the birth process, starting with OB triage; the tools I wanted to use; the monitoring and interventions I was willing to accept versus those that I wanted to avoid, how I wanted to approach pushing and bonding with the baby. At the urging of my doula, I added a section on the requirements if I were to have a c-section. I really struggled with adding this, as I was adamant that I would not have a c-section because it was totally avoidable if we followed everything in my birth plan. But in the end I did, because she said if I don’t consider it and it happened, it would be more stressful and uncomfortable for me to go through.
Each item that I listed in the birth plan helped me picture the path that I would follow to make Charlie’s entrance into the world and my transformation into motherhood a natural, blissful and spiritual one. The birth plan process allowed me to cultivate all of the excitement and energy I’d put into my passion for childbirth into something real that I would enact. It was an incredibly important activity for me.
At each visit with my midwives I eagerly asked when we could talk about my birth plan. And they responded each time: we will get to that. Finally around week 32 I got to bring it in and start the conversation. They looked at my two pages of text (reminiscent of Amy Poehler’s birth plan in Yes Please but not at all funny) and very kindly suggested that I consider making it shorter so that it could be more easily digested by the staff helping me on the day of my birth. My doula provided me with a template that she had other clients use and I made my own modified version, which you can see here:
At my appointment around 35 weeks, the midwives and I talked about my birth plan again and I gave them the updated one page version, and we talked through each area. They placed it in my file and then we all just waited for it to become a reality.
If you’ve read my birth story, you’ll know that it didn’t. While I didn’t have to have a c-section, much of what I listed in my plan did not become a reality. In the moment and in the weeks following my birth, I struggled with the fact that my birth did not go according to my plan. I felt like my lack of ability to control the situation was a reflection of my overall lack of ability to control anything, and I wouldn’t be a good mom because of it.
And then with each day of being a mom, I’ve learned over and over again that I have no control over this thing called motherhood, and very little control over my daughter; she’s her own person with her own thoughts and feelings and no one should have control over her. And that lack of control is ok. And normal. And beautiful. What I do have control of is how I react to all of these things outside of my control.
So with this newfound knowledge and mentality, I have written my plan for my second birth. It’s a lot simpler than the first but it feels exactly right.
I’m fine with whatever needs to happen to make sure that I and Romeo are healthy and safe throughout the labor
If I am able to birth vaginally, I’d like to avoid pain medication
As I reflect on this change of perspective, I am reminded of the work of Viktor Frankl - an incredible man and author of one of my favorite books: Man's Search for Meaning. And I want to leave you with one of his quotes:
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms -
to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." - Viktor Frankl
Care to share your birth planning experience? If so, I'd love to hear it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org