The trouble was, I had wanted at least two kids my entire life. And even though it was easy to pretend I didn’t, I still really wanted a second baby. Eventually. At some point. Like maybe when I could entertain the idea without automatically crossing my legs and feeling a wave of nausea wash over me. I figured when the time was right, I would know. So I waited.
In the meantime, I found great comfort in telling myself how easy and convenient it would be to have a scheduled c-section the next time around. Too posh to push? You bet your ass!
Then sometime last summer I noticed I had stopped gawking at pregnant women like, You fool! Do you have any idea what fresh hell you'll have to go through to get that baby out? I knew this was a sign I was healing. And by the time I got pregnant with Finn, it was almost as if I’d had a full blown lobotomy. Sure he would have to come out at some point but he was only like the size of a sunflower seed. How hard could it be?
Weeks passed and my little sunflower seed grew into a grape and then a tangerine. But instead of getting scared at the inevitability of labor and birth, I was almost…excited. It was like pregnancy had forced me into in a perpetual state of amnesia and optimism. Instead of saying things like, "I don't know what's so wrong with a c-tuck" I was switching from my OB/GYN to a midwife and watching The Business of Being Born like it was my job.
Still. When I first met my midwife and she asked if I was planning to deliver naturally I was like, "Woah, lady. Woah. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. My plan is to take this crazy thing one step at a time, okay? I mean, geez! Ever heard of playing it by ear!?!"
But then I watched The Business of Being Born a few more dozen times and checked out Pushed from the library and started to change my tune. Before you could scream, “Epidural!” I was telling my midwife that I wanted to do it naturally and knew that I could if only I had the right support. Hiring my doula and plowing through the stack of books she lent me (HypnoBirthing, Birthing from Within and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to name a few) sort of sealed the deal in my mind. While I knew I would absolutely go with the flow come birth day, I also knew that I had all the tools I needed to find out once and for all if natural childbirth was really all it’s cracked up to be.
As my due date approached, all of the information I had been gathering over the months (combined with all the experience, emotions and memories from over the years) formed what can only be described as my birth plan. Unlike the birth plan my midwife had me type up for my chart (no my husband would not like to cut the cord - please don't even ask him), this birth plan was just for me. I guess it was sort of like my philosophy. It consisted of two basic ideas:
- My body and my baby know better than I do. Toward the end of my pregnancy I realized that while my brain may very well be helpful in some situations, it is not necessarily helpful in all situations. Just imagine if we had to know how to turn an egg and a sperm into a human being in order to have a baby. Most of us would have no idea how to make that string of miracles happen and yet perfect babies are born all the time. Amazing! I started to see birth as part of the process instead of the time for little ol’ me to take the reins from my body. I knew that if I could get my mind out of the equation, my body and my baby would know exactly what to do. Trust my body; trust my baby.
- No expectations. This didn’t come into focus for me until right before I went into labor. For most of my pregnancy, I was full of expectations. Mostly along the lines of, This time is going to be SO MUCH BETTER than last time! But one of the books I read confronted me with something that really made me think: What if it’s not better? What if it’s worse? Longer? Harder? More painful? Then what? While at first I wanted to slam shut the book and watch some bad TV to clear my mind, after I sat with it for a moment it actually made me feel better. Because there is absolutely no way to know how a birth is going to be until it happens. If I went in thinking, “This is going to be great!” and it wasn't, that would only add insult to injury. So I recommitted to playing it by ear. I also stopped thinking about what a “good birth” would look like. Why pigeon hole myself into what I “think” would be ideal (quiet focus, laboring in the tub, pushing in a squat…) when my body really wouldn’t know what it needed to do until it needed to do it? Once again, I knew I would need to get out of my head and just take each and every moment as it came.