Two weeks before my due date I went for coffee with a friend who had just had her first baby. (I couldn’t believe that someone who had literally pushed a human out of her vagina six weeks ago could look so calm and confident and completely at ease with her gorgeous little boy and I was completely in awe of the pair of them!) Naturally, we discussed birth. As we talked, I began to wonder if it was true what they say: that you forget the whole experience immediately after. She made it sound ok. Like actually ok. Hard, yes, but possible. She insisted she hadn’t had a birth plan. Yes, me too I insisted. There’s no point, obviously. You never know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t matter as long as the baby is healthy.
In my head I knew exactly what I wanted to happen. Had done for months. My little girl was going to swim into the world after a few big pushes, some seriously fucking good breathing (that yoga I did as a child would come in handy) and maybe a few puffs of gas and air. I would pull her from the pool I so badly dreamed of for some immediate skin to skin before she found her way to my breast (by herself of course!) and began to suck happily. Then we’d all have a nice cup of coffee and maybe a little cry.
(I should also add my nails – and toenails – would all be perfectly manicured and insta photo ready.)
Of course, none of that happened. My baby girl was in fact vacumned out of my vagina by a consultant – who my husband insists genuinely put her foot up against the bed to help her pull – after a gush of meconium, two hours of fruitless pushing, and a rather big cut very close to my arsehole. Not to mention the fourteen hours spend pacing a hospital ward alone, pleading to be examined and constantly being told I wasn’t in labour enough yet. Oh and I did the whole thing on a couple of paracetamol given to me the night before.
My husband cried at least.
And yet, here’s the thing. It was genuinely the best experience of my life. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t change it if could. Of course I would. And maybe one day (next time?) I will have that dream birth. But there really is nothing better than the moment the doctor/midwife hands you that baby. Even if they have to be rather vigorously shoved onto your (squished) nipple, which they will then reject for at least three days after…
So go ahead, read the books, attend the talks, list your preferences. There is absolutely no harm in wanting it to go a certain way. But it probably won’t. And it doesn’t matter. No matter what happens, you can do it.