By Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher, Clarion Herald
In all of the birthing classes that I’ve taken, the importance of a “birth plan” was stressed. Continually. Over and over, I heard about the necessity of making sure I advocate for what I want my birth “experience” to be like.
But here’s the thing – if anything, my pregnancy has taught me the necessity of flexibility. We can plan all we want, we can have backup plans in place, but ultimately much of pregnancy is outside of our control. Birth plan or not.
Added to the stressors surrounding pregnancy and the impending moment of labor and delivery, we’ve had the additional chaos of moving.
Early on, a friend joked with me that there are three prime stressors in life: 1) new job; 2) starting a family; 3) moving. We’ve managed to do all three at the same time.
Initially, when I found out (almost simultaneously) that I had gotten a tenure-track job and was expecting, my brain went into overdrive. This wasn’t the way that I had intended to begin my first year in a new job, in a new city. Newborns complicated that vision.
But at the same time, we had been trying for multiple years to have children. Surely, this was God’s way of joking.
We all know that God has a sense of humor. “You’ve been praying for things to work out – getting a job, beginning a family. Here you go,” it seemed like he was telling me.
I struggled immensely in the weeks following the positive pregnancy test, trying to figure out how to plan for all of the upcoming moving parts.
All of the research deadlines, the chaos of the spring semester, the many doctor’s appointments. Alongside my professional life, I was juggling reading, research and planning for twins: their care, their appointments, the infuriating frustration of finding child care.
All of this in the midst of planning a move to a new city with a new position in a very different English department.
Much of that stress was relieved, however, after a conversation early on with my doctor. In talking through the chaos of our lives and the likelihood of an earlier delivery, my doctor pulled up the ultrasound and pointed, “They’re in the driver’s seat.”
We can’t control all aspects of pregnancy, labor and delivery – they do. And “he” does, my doctor emphasized, as he pointed to the cross hanging in the room. When they’re ready, we have to be ready. All that matters are healthy babies.
The importance of my plans and trying to make everything fit according to my timeline or my schedule shrank away in that moment.
Now, as I enter my third trimester, my husband and I sat down with the same hospital packet that emphasized that birth plan.
I know of a few people who compiled multi-page documents to share with their care providers. I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down a few bulleted items – our preferences for pain, my husband’s role in the delivery room and breastfeeding.
For the rest of it, we’re placing our trust in God, and in our doctor. It’s all part of his ultimate plan, anyhow. We’re just along for the ride.
Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at email@example.com.