I have recently written (here and here) about my birth experience, and in particular about how I felt and was unprepared for “off-plan” contingencies.

I had written a detailed birth plan, and specified how I wanted it to go. I was fully aware that things might not go as I hoped and that complications might arise – yet my contingency planning was practically zero. I had spent almost no time thinking about the “What if..?” questions.

Why is that?

In antenatal discussions, I had been told that I shouldn’t necessarily expect everything to go to plan so I should be prepared for the possibility that things might end up differently. I had been told that it was unwise to set up absolute expectations because, until labour was actually underway, I would not really have much idea about how well I would cope with the pains or what complications might arise.

I think this advice, to be flexible and open to changes of plan, made me think that it didn’t really matter a great deal about what choices I made before labour because, once I’d got started, I wouldn’t have any control over it anyway.

Another point is that the birth didn’t seem that important at the time. It was something to be got through. A hopefully short, intensely painful transition from pregnancy to motherhood, but not in itself important.

Why didn’t anybody tell me how important it was? Why didn’t anyone explain that this was a profound, life-altering event that I would live and relive time and again, that I would tell and re-tell to anyone who would listen? Why did I let myself slip towards it and through it without ever fully, consciously relishing it? Why didn’t I prepare for it as for a true, unique experience of a lifetime? No mere wedding could be as life-altering, yet women spend months and even years planning and preparing for their weddings. Why not their birthings?

If I am ever fortunate enough to get a second chance at this, I will seize control and heaven help anyone who tries to stop me. I will plan, and prepare, and be the most empowered woman you ever saw.

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