Do You Believe in Birth Plans?

My due date is less than seven weeks away so how this baby is going to get out (and how I'm going to handle that journey) has been creeping into my conscience. Or it should be. Because it's happening....The truth is, I could talk birth stories all day long whether I'm pregnant or not. It's the first thing I want to know when a friend has a baby (after hearing that all is well and what she named said baby). I'm fascinated by the process and how totally amazing/cool/crazy it is to give birth. But as someone who's about to do it, I really don't want to overthink it. Or overplan it. I'm far more interested in overthinking and overplanning how we're going to function after we add a newborn to our already-chaotic house. And fantasizing about the first giant cocktail I will enjoy. That feels like a better use of my limited mental capacity at this point.

I've seen friends map out their births (both home and hospital) down to the music they want to be listening to when the baby emerges. Sometimes it all goes according to plan (or close) which is great, but often reality or mother nature or the baby get in the way and things can go very differently (e.g. no time for the drugs she really wanted, the doula got stuck in traffic and never arrived, water broke and labor didn't start so Pitocin was necessary, emergency C-sections, baby delivered in the parking lot of birthing center, etc). With birth, there are unknowns and you have to be willing to adapt to those without unraveling because it wasn't part of your plan. I've learned this first hand (I really wanted an epidural with Nora but there was no time and I had to be talked off a ledge by a tough-love nurse). That said, I do think it's incredibly important for women to educate themselves on the process and discuss with their doctor/birth team what they are/aren't comfortable with. Because we do have a say in how it all goes down, even when obstacles do arise.

I've heard way too many stories of women who walk into the hospital with no real opinions and let the doctors take over and simply follow standard operating procedures. They wind up going along with things they maybe wouldn't have if they'd really thought about it (inductions, extra pain meds, intervention, even lying down laboring on a bed when they could be walking around if they'd only asked). I feel pretty confident in my knowledge base--and my doctor, who I adore--and I plan to advocate for myself (or make Nick do it) if need be. One of my best friend's is a doula who I plan to text/call as needed. She helped me assist my sister (via text) through 30 hours of drug-free labor and delivery back in March. My sister had asked me to be there to support her and her husband and I was beyond honored. I was there for everything and it was awesome. And I learned a lot. My friend had me read The Birth Partner, which was a great resource (I was flipping through it quoting passages as my sister labored).

I've also, quite literally, been there and done that twice so I feel pretty good about just letting nature take its course (I am lucky and have had very straightforward labor and deliveries so far). Nick and I have been incredibly laid back about this kid--e.g., we have no nursery, no name, no clue what we're getting ourselves into--but since birth is imminent it seems like a good idea to at least map out how I might like things to go. So here is my loose "ideal" plan:

1. Go into labor on my own. I did with my first two pregnancies (both times I went into labor on my due date and had my kids the day after-pretty good for a control freak/planner like me). I am very opposed to being induced for non-medically-necessary reasons and I've made that clear to my doctor. I want the baby to come when the baby is ready. I think some doctors create medical reasons just so they can induce and try to control the timing of things. I think this because the doctor who delivered Nora told me as much after I gave birth (he said that his colleagues will often suggest induction because they think it will mean they won't have to get called in to deliver a baby at 2 a.m.). Interesting, right?

2. Labor at home as long as possible. I'll take walks and keep myself busy but I'm not a big zen-birth kind of person. I took Lamaze before having Alex (super helpful and educational) and they suggested ice pops and lavender neck pillows and soothing playlists. I'm more of a walk-around-get-er-done, cringe/puke/complain if I need to. I know some people would disagree with this method but it works for me. Basically I want to avoid showing up at the hospital too early because once I'm there they'll likely put me on monitors and might suggest interventions--which I don't want unless absolutely necessary (that said, my sister delivered in the same hospital and the nurses and docs were very cool about respecting her wishes--she labored in the shower most of the time!). Plus, my doctor's office is right around the corner from my house and he said I can go there to check my progress instead of going to the hospital (I've been known to think I'm close to 10 centimeters and only actually be 2--d'oh!).

3. Not get an epidural. Yipes! I don't have some big political reason or any well-researched medical thoughts or lofty opinions on this. I do not judge people who get epidurals (I had one with my first, though it wore off and was entirely useless for the two and half hours of pushing which is probably why I'm anti), but I really want to have this kid drug-free. I've done it before and I know it's possible. I didn't have one with Nora (there was no time-I gave birth 45 minutes after getting to the hospital after laboring easily through the night/in and out of sleep and then having things progress very quickly once I woke up and started walking around). And that birth was awesome. I mean pushing--though very brief the second time--sucks (sorry to my birth-loving friends but I do not care for it at all) but overall it was 100-percent better than my first. And the recovery was practically nil compared to Alex (I was able to leave the hospital 24 hours after delivery). It was also a moment of extreme pride for me. Giving birth is an amazing experience and I felt like a rockstar and in the large scheme of parenting challenges, having a baby come out of you-know-where (when there are no medical issues to deal with) is so not the hardest thing we face. Just ask a new mom who's struggling to breastfeed.

So I guess I do have a plan. Of course I realize all of this is subject to change and I'm OK with that. But I feel better at least having talked it through. I saw my doctor this morning and he's pretty confident that I will go to 40 weeks again and that things will progress quickly as they did last time. His only concern is that I don't wait too long to get to a delivery room (he's had babies born in parking lots). And he's on board for all of my wishes and told me not to even think about it it's all going to be fine. Done! Now back to fantasizing about that dirty martini…

Did you have a birth plan? Did it go accordingly to...plan?