There's still a big part of me that hardly realizes I'm pregnant, much less that I will actually be giving birth at some point. But that's probably a post for another day.
I know three women who have recently had children. Each of them had a fairly detailed birth plan. Each of them fully intended to have a drug-free childbirth experience. One of them did so, but after a 47-hour labor; the other two ended up with emergency c-sections. All three, particularly the two who had c-sections, have expressed great disappointment and sadness about their birth experiences (while also, make no mistake, taking great joy in their children).
So I've been thinking about those stories. And about plans in general. Because I had a plan too, once upon a time. The plan went something like this:
- meet man of dreams sometime in mid-20's.
- after year-long courtship, marry man of dreams at about age 27. Maybe 28.
- be blissfully married for one or two years.
- have first child at age 29. Maybe 30.
- have second child at age 33.
- potential third child (not own idea, but perhaps man of dreams will want three) 3 years later. Surely finished with having children by age 36. Surely.
- man of dreams gets vasectomy.
- live happily ever after.
- finish college, go to grad school. Finish that at age 26, having met absolutely no dreamy men, except for one, who would have been disastrous husband. But who was fun to kiss for a short time.
- take first job in small-ish city where female pastors are unheard of and everyone assumes I am a nun. Not good for dating possibilities.
- date one guy for a year. Allow him to lead me on until he moves away. Bastard.
- finally meet man of dreams at benefit luncheon at age 31. Bit late.
- marry after one year. Now age 32.
- be married for requisite year. Quite blissful, actually.
- try to get pregnant for four years.
- get pregnant at age 37. Behind schedule. And unlikely to have another, at this point.
Everyone experiences infertility a bit differently. It changes all of us, I believe, but in various ways. As for me, I've learned not to put so much stock in planning. Because, truthfully, those plans may not work out.
This is a hard lesson for someone who loves to make lists, cross things off, get things accomplished. Someone who enjoys housecleaning because it has tangible results; someone who puts a meal list together for the week. Someone who has to plan, months in advance, for various job responsibilities.
This pregnancy could not have been more planned, when it finally happened. There was absolutely nothing spontaneous about it. But, after that, it's all unknown. We're not finding out the gender, so I can't plan too much, too specifically. I'm doing my best to start getting things covered at work, but I can't count on a particular date as the one on which I'll end up in the hospital - I have to leave some things unknown, undone.
I'm not entirely opposed to birth plans. I think everybody handles this experience differently. I have only one strong preference, which is that only my husband and I will be in the birthing room. But that's it; that's my plan. My plan is to go to the hospital and have a baby. I'm sure I'll come up with a few more preferences, but that's all they'll be: preferences. Not plans. Because this is beyond planning. And the last thing I want is to be disappointed by what will be, in all likelihood, my only experience giving birth.
It's possible that I will change my mind over the next few months, that I'll learn something which will provoke me to create a more detailed plan. But I doubt it. I've tried planning this child. It didn't work. I simply want to enjoy this moment, and the next one. See what it looks like when we get there.