I recently found my birth plan, three years after bringing my child into the world. I sat down and had a good laugh at how I thought it was all going to go, prior to knowing anything about childbirth. Man, I was clueless. When I look back on that fateful, scary, but ultimately wonderful day, there are more than a few things that still surprise me and explain why labor and delivery doesn't make sense to me at all, even now.
My birth plan clearly stated I wanted my delivery to be unmedicated, unless it was absolutely necessary. Turns out, "absolutely necessary" was about an hour after admission into the labor and delivery ward of the hospital. I said I wanted music playing softly. Ha. The music annoyed me one song in and I banned it. I wrote that I wanted minimal staff in the room, but I ended up with a team of 15, including student nurses, doctors, and surgeons. I named my husband as my birth coach, but he was sent home sick and missed the birth of our son altogether. I wrote that I wanted delayed cord clamping, but my umbilical cord ruptured and led to a dramatic emergency birth.
In short, the birth of my son was nothing like I thought it would be and, as a result, three years later there's still a boatload of things about labor and delivery that don't make any sense to me. Things up to and including the following:
That Nothing Goes According To Plan
It really doesn't matter how many books you read, expert opinions you seek out, or veteran moms you speak to; childbirth is one of those things you have to do yourself to really understand. Of course, even when you do go through the pains of labor and delivery, you still don't completely understand the entire process. What is with that, honestly?
I knew the names of the various stages my body would go through, and I knew what was typically supposed to happen during each of those respective stages. Still, once my body and my baby went off script, I was left totally unprepared. I'm so lucky that I had my mom to support me and amazing health care professionals, that made sure both myself and my baby got through the ordeal relatively unscathed. Still, it would make more sense to have something so meticulously planned for, actually go accordingly to plan. Thanks, universe.
That It's Not As Bad As You Think It Should Be
I had some serious pre-birth anxiety, so I was scared that I wouldn't be able to handle the pain. I read a lot of stories from Birth Without Fear and learned some relaxation tips.
When it came to the big day, and while it was certainly more dramatic than I imagined and didn't follow my plan at all, it really wasn't as bad as I imagined. It was painful, to be sure, but I got through it and that made me feel (and continues to make me feel) strong, empowered, and capable.
That Everything Actually Fits
I still have some trouble getting my head around exactly how a fully-grown baby fits inside a woman. Of course, the actual birth just blows my mind, too.
After my son's birth I would just stare at his head, asking myself how in the hell I managed to get him out of my body. Insanity.
That It Takes So Long
I was in labor for 48 hours, you guys. And by "labor" I don't mean, "Oh, I think that's a twinge," but the, "OMG it's happening right now and this really, really hurts." Throughout my labor and delivery I kept thinking maybe it will be over in the next hour or two, but it just went on and on and on.
That Your Birth Plan Means Nothing
I spent ages writing my birth plan, only to have literally every item vetoed or ignored. In the end I had to try and roll with the punches as much as possible, and it's nothing short of frustrating that so much time, effort, and energy went into preparing for a labor and delivery I didn't necessarily experience.
That The Hospital Is So Strict
I didn't realize the hospital would have so many rules and regulations, especially after our baby was born. My partner and I felt like naughty school children; we were always being told off by the nurses for being too noisy or for sneaking in food. Honestly, we couldn't wait to get out of there and get home.
That You'll Be More Hungry Than You've Ever Been In Your Life
I was a vegetarian for 16 years and known to be somewhat of a fussy eater. However, I guzzled down the first meal I was served after giving birth as though I had never eaten before. I practically licked the plate clean and asked for seconds, I was so hungry. I guess mama worked up quite the appetite.
That Your Baby Will Be Ugly But Still Perfect
When my baby was born I remember thinking he was the most beautiful creature that had ever existed. However, when I look back on his newborn baby photos I realize, like all newborns, he was a bit weird looking.
He had a cone head, abrasions from his dramatic birth, and a squashed up face. Still, to me, he was absolutely perfect.
That You Will Forget It All
I don't know about you, dear reader, but directly after my son was born I forgot about the ordeal I just went through. It's like someone flashed me with that Men In Black memory eraser.
I kept pretty detailed journal notes days after my son's birth, and when I read them I'm shocked at all the details my brain has essentially blocked out or erased. I am sure part of the reason why is purely biological; to ensure the human race continues to procreate. Of course, I'm also sure it's because all the pain and trauma we endure in order to bring our babies into the world, is more than worth it.