In my 2nd trimester, I sat down and tried to write a birth plan. I looked up online what they usually included; I asked my mom, and my friends, and anyone else I could think of. "What even is a birth plan?" I asked Danny. He shrugged.
It was easy to be an idealist when I was pregnant. I couldn't imagine a world where I went into labor early; I couldn't imagine a world where I didn't breastfeed; I couldn't imagine a world where I would be induced. It just wasn't a reality for me. I imagined Danny and I pulling up the hospital, me waddling inside the labor & delivery floor for the first time.
As anyone who has read my blog before knows, that's basically the opposite of what happened.
A lot of energy and emotion is put into birth plans. We plan our nurseries and our schedules and our maternity leaves--we assume we can plan our labor as well, or our entire pregnancies. But as good at planning as I may be, I couldn't plan preeclampsia. I had never known anyone who had developed preeclampsia during pregnancy and even though I had fears about it, I never realistically thought it would happen.
But it did happen. In one doctor's appointment, all my plans went out the window. If I had had a birth plan at that point, it undoubtedly would have been mostly out the window.
Since I overthink every situation, I found myself, in the weeks after Forrest's birth, wondering that, if I'd had a better plan in place, would things have been different? I found myself second guessing everything I'd wanted. Did the epidural make Forrest lazier, which made it more difficult for him to nurse? Did the inducement rush his birth? (Later, I would look back at this last question and say to myself, "That's the point.") I found myself asking over and over, did my preeclampsia cause every problem we have?
Nothing I would go back and "do" would change my preeclampsia: preeclampsia begins at conception, even if you don't show symptoms until the end of pregnancy. Preeclampsia isn't something you make happen to yourself; it's just something that happens. There was nothing I could have done to fix my faulty placenta.
At the same time, I realized something brilliant about my lack of a birth plan. Many moms who develop preeclampsia end up hating how they had to give birth. If you have a specific idea in mind (an unmedicated birth in a birth center, or at home, for example) and then medical necessity requires you do something you don't want to, it can be jarring, emotionally. That isn't to say you shouldn't plan for a home birth or giving birth at a birth center, but that you should be ready to have something change at the drop of the hat.
It's very easy to let ourselves get bogged down by the things that went wrong. Even though a plan, I found myself sad about giving birth earlier than I wanted to. I wondered if I'd done everything wrong. But the truth is, pregnancy is just one big guessing game; you can try to get things perfect as much as you want, but the more you plan, the more you're likely to feel upset if things don't go "right."
I'm not advocating for everyone to drop their birth plans--but I do think it's better to be more chill about how your labor & delivery goes than we currently are. There is no shame in a home birth or going to a birth center, but there is also no shame in going to a hospital, getting an epidural, or opting for a c-section. In the end, the baby will arrive. The most important thing is that everyone is ok at the end of it.