You think you know what you're getting into when you choose (and hope) to deliver vaginally. You do all the reading, Google all the things, ask all the questions, take a birth class (maybe), and start to feel pretty confident in your preparation. Unfortunately, no amount of planning can prepare you for the real deal, my friends. I know there were so many things I wasn't prepared for when I had a vaginal birth, you would've thought I was going into labor and delivery intentionally clueless. Instead, I was just blissfully unaware of what a pushing a baby into the world actually entails.
When I gave birth to my now 18-month-old son, and even though he has an older brother, I felt like a total noob. So many aspects of vaginal childbirth were unexpected and completely foreign to me that I didn't know what to think. Between what I considered to be unbelievable pain and, as a result, my uncontrollable screaming, I was a confused and surprised mess. Even being close friends with a doula hadn't prepared me sufficiently.
So sure, I thought I knew what I was in for but I had no idea what was in store until I was in the throes of constant contractions. In the end, "not knowing" is kind of par for the pregnancy, labor, and delivery course, though. There's no one-size-fits-all experience for childbirth, so definitely keep in mind that what I wasn't entirely prepared for but ultimately lived through, might not even happen during your labor and delivery. Regardless, hold onto a few keys facts and you'll be OK: ignorance truly is bliss, you're more powerful than you realize, and it'll all be worth it when your baby is in your arms. Even if you end up not being prepared for the following: