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Letting go of the Birth Plan

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

I’ve been practicing the art of “letting go” since I became a parent three years ago. These days, “letting go” normally consists of simple things like which crayon drawings to take off the fridge, or saying good bye to social plans because my kid is having a breakdown. However, my first experience of “letting go” was arduous, and it occurred the very moment I became a parent.

During my pregnancy, I spent a lot of time imagining what my birth would be like. Although I didn’t put together a written birth plan, I did have a vision that I shared with my support team. A birth plan is a way to communicate your wishes about your birth to your hospital, birthing center and ob-gyns and/or midwives. You can view an example here.

I love birth plans because many first-time mothers are unaware of their options or the simple things they can request. For instance, giving birth in a hospital and asking for the lights to be dimmed for a softer ambience.

I imagined my birth would be pretty standard; I would be in labor for around twelve hours, mostly at home before being taken to the hospital and getting an epidural. I knew who I wanted present at my birth: my husband, my best friend/Doula and my dog (who couldn’t be there due to a prior commitment.) Instead, it turned out I was in labor for thirty-six hours, had an epidural before pushing for three long hours and then was told by our doctor - after all of that - that a C-section was necessary, because my baby was stuck and there was no other way she was coming out.

It was incredibly difficult to let go of my wish of a "normal" birth. I probably pushed myself too far because I was holding on and refused to consider a C-section being an option from the beginning. In the moment, I was also really scared, as I had never had a major surgery before. Thankfully the excitement of knowing I would be holding our baby soon took over.

Several months after my birth, in between “baby bliss,” guilt would sneak up on me. Every time I saw my scar I felt it. Each time I washed my stomach in the shower, I would have a brief moment of thinking I was a failure for not being able to do one of the most natural things that my body is built for. Accepting how my daughter's birth went down compared to what I had envisioned was tough. But, it led me to a realization. My baby and I were both healthy and the way she made it into my arms did not matter. The fact that she is here, and healthy, made the process really beautiful. I learned that knowing when to let go is just as powerful as having the strength to never give up.

Giving birth, much like parenting, is about being spontaneous, making quick (and sometimes very difficult) decisions, being flexible and, most of all, living in the moment. No matter how much you prepare for something, life always has a sweet way of surprising you - if you just let go.