I’ve read a lot of pregnancy books over the last nine months, and now that I’m on the home stretch, I’ve been reading up on labor and delivery. It’s fun stuff! Words like stripping membranes, episiotomy, and internal monitoring really make me look forward to the big event.

One thing all the books have in common is that they all seem to assume I’ve written out a detailed birth plan, had it professionally typeset and then printed and bound in leather. I’m apparently supposed to hand a copy of it to my practitioner as well as anyone and everyone Steve and I come into contact with while I’m in the hospital.

Call me a slacker mom, but … I haven’t done that. My only objective once I arrive at the hospital is to leave with a baby.

You won’t be able to hide your face from us for long, baby!

I do, of course, have some preferences for the ideal world I wish I lived in:

  • I would prefer to avoid being induced, if possible, although I think I am really focusing here on an elective induction, which I won’t do on principle. My doctor wants to induce if I haven’t delivered by around April 15, and while it wouldn’t be my Plan A, I’ll defer to his wisdom — after all, he’s been delivering babies for about as long as I’ve been alive, while I’m a rookie here.
  • Barring some unexpectedly fast and dramatic labor, I am 100% ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY GETTING AN EPIDURAL. No question. I feel good about my pain tolerance in general, and I have been practicing breathing through discomfort and mildly painful experiences, but I have no interest in enduring an unmedicated labor. Many women feel strongly about this but it’s just not something I’ve ever aspired to, so: epidural, take me away. I’m actually planning on bringing some knitting to work on while I’m in the hospital.
  • I want to be able to labor as long as it takes without being whisked away for a c-section just because I’m not progressing fast enough. Fortunately, my doctor and I are on the same page here and as long as I make progress, I can labor as long as I need to. (That being said, I hope my labor isn’t exceptionally long! I’m trying not to compare myself too much to Leah, who had an unusually fast first labor and a somewhat unique second labor that involved just two hours or so of painful contractions … I know my experience could be totally different. I’m just hoping it’s not a 36-hour ordeal.) That being said, if I don’t progress or the baby doesn’t tolerate labor well, or if my (again, experienced) doctor feels it’s necessary, I’ll be off to the OR — and that’s fine. I won’t look forward to the recovery, but eh.

… but I think hopes are a very different thing than plans.

I am really trying to not have too many expectations for what my labor experience “should” be like; again, my only real objective is to leave the hospital with a healthy baby. (He can even cry if he wants!) I don’t want to set myself up to feel disappointed if my labor doesn’t go the “right” way, or like I’ve failed or “wimped out” for having pain medication or a c-section. I think motherhood in general is going to involve a lot of expectation management, so I might as well start here.