First of all, I'm a little late to the game on this. I found out about a week or two ago that I have been nominated for this supercool list (thanks to whomever threw my name in the hat!) I would love it if you would take a second and vote for me by clicking this sweet little button. You can do it once a day until April 14.
At my first prenatal appointment ever, my doctor said to me, "please don't make a birth plan." I was all, "wait, huh? I have been studying all of my mommy books that tell me how to be the most perfect mother on the face of the planet (perhaps in the entire universe), and I will be making a birth plan per their advice, thankyouverymuch." Instead of saying that, I just asked the very simple, "why?" My doctor and I have this type of rapport. He knows he can be pretty candid with me, and that I won't take offense if he accidentally steps on my delicate toes. He said to me, "when women make a really specific birth plan, things almost always go the exact opposite. So, just have a general idea of what you want/need, and then be open to the rest, you'll be happier." I chewed on that for a second. The truth was, I was just busy being pregnant, I had not yet gotten to imagining how this little person was going to make an exit. So, no birth plan? Cool, one less thing for me to do while getting ready for this baby!
For so many reasons, I am glad that I wasn't attached to any plan. The most attached I ever was to a plan was the plan I'd made prior to the birth of the Twinstroms which you can read about (and how it all went awry) here. I knew some general things like how I felt about drugs (for the record, I felt good about them, which is a perfectly acceptable way of going about things... the other way is perfectly acceptable, too), and who I'd like to have in the room, but I tried not to attach too much to the experience, and just get good with the fact that it would be what it was, and it would reveal itself at the proper time. The good thing to know is that babies always come out. To date, I have not heard of a woman carrying a 20 year-old around in her uterus. Babies come out. They just do. The miracle and wonder is in the how.
And here's a how that I am fascinated with. Just two days ago in my hometown of Minneapolis, MN, a woman gave birth on the side of a well-traveled interstate in the back seat of a car during rush hour on the way to the hospital. Wow. I am pretty sure none of that was in her birth plan.
I don't want to give the birth plan a bad rap. It's good to know how you feel about different landmarks during the experience of labor and delivery. Where you want to labor, for how long, what kind of drugs do you or don't you want, who you'd like by your side, what position you'd like to be in for the birth. All of these things are good to explore, and wonderful to hold close during the experience. However, part of the planning is being open to the journey. I don't say this from a place of authority, because I still grieve the fact that I was unable to have my last birth vaginally due to a couple of disobedient infants. I STILL GRIEVE IT - and have not yet reached a place of true acceptance. Instead, I say this from a place of life experience (in birth, and beyond), when you allow yourself to roll with the punches a little, and remember who you are and what you value through it all, life is a whole lot easier. Even the tough parts.
Birth is possibly one of the most profound lessons in losing control.
Parenting is another lesson in the loss of control, but in such a different way. I often wonder why there is so much talk of birth plans, and very little (to none) about postpartum plans. Perhaps once the main event (the grand exit) is over, we think we'll just naturally grow into our parenting role. That is, after all, what the culture expects. And yet, when you stop and really listen to women and men talk about their first days with their children in their homes, it sounds anything but natural. We rarely have the conversations about how we're going to make sure the new parents are fed, who is going to act as the support network, who can the mom and dad call in the middle of the night when they can't possibly take it anymore? The postpartum plan is a plan I can get behind, but it's not toted at all in the "be the perfect parent" manuals. Here's the thing, whether you're on your first baby, or your 19th (Hi, Michelle Duggar, thanks for stopping by...) having a baby rocks the world you're used to.
This last time around, I got wise to the gig, and made a postpartum plan. Sure, "you're expecting twins" is a really good way to prod a girl into figuring out how the heck this is all going to work, but I always wished I'd have done so with my prior births. I'd have avoided a whole lot of self doubt and depression. My postpartum plan included the engagement of a Postpartum Doula (from Welcome Baby Care), but postpartum plans come in all shapes and sizes. The purpose is to make sure you have a plan for this transition. It's a huge one, and wouldn't it be nice to make it as easy as possible?
For some resources on birth plans and postpartum plans, check out Welcome Baby Care's It's My Baby Blog!
Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!