So, at week 20 I’m firmly past reading about What Pregnancy Is Like and into reading about What Birth May Be Like (which will be followed by What An Infant Is Like). Not surprisingly, a friend of mine who’s a few months ahead of me is talking online about birth plans. She and I have a similar perspective on the women who freak out when birth doesn’t go as planned. I just don’t understand it.
I do understand wanting it to go a certain way: we all have medical wishes, desires for our own experience, demands about our own autonomy, expectations of respect and care, and reasonable requirements for what we’ll consider a “successful” birth. But when I hear that people are deeply depressed because it didn’t go as planned… I wonder. I wonder what they thought they were in control of.
I’m not in control of when the baby comes.
I’m not in control of how long early labor lasts.
Or when my water breaks.
Or when transition hits.
Or when it’s time to push.
Or for how long.
Or if it works or doesn’t work.
Or if the baby gets stuck somewhere in the process.
Or if I need a c-section.
Or if there are other unexpected complications that require medical intervention.
I can be in control of how I approach all those potentialities, and my own learning, and my own desires and education, and my conversations with my doctor and my husband, and our approach to induction and pain management and specific requests about procedures, and the choices I make at the hospital. I cannot control how the circumstances play out. There’s a baby and a whole lot of biology involved, and I don’t control those.
All we can choose is how we react to what life throws at us — before, during, and after.