During your first pregnancy, you have so many ideals in your head. You read every pregnancy-related article, you strategically put together your birth plan, and you make lists of what you are going to do and what you are not going to do during pregnancy, labor and delivery. I was no exception.
I bought all of the pregnancy week-by-week books, I took a Bradley Method course, and I watched every baby documentary I could find. Slowly, I began formulating my ideals. I desired to have an all-natural birth, because I thought that was the only correct option. I was going to have a water birth at a birthing center, I was not going to have interventions of any sort, and I was not going to entertain the thought of pain relief because that is surely of the devil.
During those 9 months (more like 10), I proudly defended my choices to any and all who questioned them. Some called me a hippie, and I took it as a complement. As absurd as this sounds, I thought I was better than all of my other pregnant friends because I was going the all-natural route. I judged every woman who went to the hospital for their labor and delivery, and I most certainly judged every woman who boasted about their epidural plans. Believe you me; I was in for a rude awakening.
When I finally went into labor, absolutely nothing went according to my birth plan. After laboring through two nights, and 10 hours after my water broke, my midwife made the call to transfer me to the hospital. I burst into tears, feeling defeated and like an utter failure. I had traded my cozy birthing center environment for a hospital room, and I had to chuck all of my plans out the door. My little one’s birth was no longer about my wants, but about her and getting her out in the quickest and safest way possible.
The thing I’ve learned about ideals is that we formulate them from our perfect-world scenarios. We generally have no true experience when we create them, and so they simply exist as fantasies, that then fail in practicality. What ideals inevitably do, is set you up for failure. And that is certainly what my ideals did for me.
Eventually, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby girl, who couldn’t have cared less how she entered the world. She was just happy to be in it. And the truth of it all is, regardless of whether I was in the warm, homey environment of a birthing center, or in the hustle and bustle of a hospital, my daughter would have had the same outcome; which was joining an unconditionally loving and happy family.
I realize now that I had no idea what pregnancy or labor and delivery was like. Even though it was good for me to have a birth plan, once I made the mistake of turning my birth plan into my birth ideals, I set myself up for failure. I then became a rigid machine, unwilling to accept any deterrent from my projected path. The reason why I felt so defeated is because of me and only me. My body did not fail me, I did. I forgot the age old wisdom that life does not always go my way.
Now, over a year later, I find myself in the same position; I am pregnant. But, I refuse to fall victim to ideals this time around, because I want to set myself up for success. I also refuse to judge other’s birth plans, because every woman deserves the right to choose what works best for them. But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through all of this is that my children’s births are but a blink of an eye in comparison to the rest of their lives. I should focus more on how my children live, rather than be fixated on how they are born. So, from this pregnancy on, I am choosing to allow myself the freedom to plan whatever birth best suites my family, and also the freedom to divert from that plan when needed without fear of judgment or feeling defeated.