I thought a lot about labor and delivery during my pregnancy. I looked forward to it with a lot of excitement, though I felt the apprehension of the unknown as well. I had a pretty good understanding of how labor progresses and my husband and I took childbirth prep through the hospital, but having never experienced the physical feelings and sensations I wasn’t sure how my experience would play out. I had the desire to have a “natural” childbirth, for many reasons, but knew it was important to be flexible in my plan. I hoped all would go smoothly, but knew most things would be out of my control. In the months before my due date I wrote out two lists; my best case birth scenario and my worst case birth scenario. Aside from a completely healthy mother and baby, the most important thing in my best case list was the desire to maintain a calm mind; to not give in to panic and distrust of the process. I visualized laboring and calming my thoughts.
On my worst case scenario list was me panicking, becoming claustrophobic in my own fear of the next contraction, giving way to a consuming mindset of suffering through contractions with no end in sight, instead of just living in the moment, dealing with what was happening now and not worrying about what would happen next. When I finally did go into labor and was admitted to the hospital it was apparent that I would not get everything on my best case scenario list, but also that there was little likelihood that the worst things would happen. I had to have continuous monitoring because of my blood pressure, my doctor was out of town and I had to have the on-call doctor. Now that it was time and there was no changing these things, they became less important. All I had to do was focus inside and allow my body to do what it was going to do. I went with the pattern my body was giving me: breathe and groan through the contraction, breathe and sway during the break. My body was so tired, I just wanted to rest, but I had to hold on to the pattern and not overthink or give in to fear. Letting myself follow my body’s cues was the most helpful; I wasn’t sure that I wanted to deliver on my back, but in the end that was what felt best. I thought I would want to get in the tub, but during labor it didn’t sound good so I didn’t end up using it. Labor certainly didn’t last forever and I had a beautiful baby daughter on my chest after the peak of physical intensity when I pushed her out. The rush of emotions of holding my child for the first time was incredible, but what I wasn’t expecting was the physical rush of completing childbirth. My body felt different- I felt so fulfilled. I felt like I had reached a new level of wholeness. I would never go back to the way my body was before pregnancy, I’ll even keep the stretch marks! My body had done something incredible.