Over lunch, I did some baby reading. A few months ago, such a task was all-around enjoyable. I read about pregnancy symptoms (and subsequently FREAKED OUT every time I felt ANYTHING going-on with my body for the first 14-weeks… thankfully, I am now intimately familiar with the difference between gas pains (YAY PREGNANCY!) and uterine cramps (p.s. I’m not entirely sure what a real cramp feels like because I don’t THINK I’ve ever had one. Nah nah nah naaaah!! ). Before you curse my existence as a woman, my monthly gift is accompanied by back pain, and I mean BACK PAIN), newborn development and care by week, looked at bump pictures, and day-dreamed about onsies that say, “I love my MOM.” Since I’ve read all the fun stuff of babycenter.com, I’ve moved onto heavier topics. Like episiotomies, enemas, pooping while pushing, natural vs epidural, circumcision, and the like. While these topics aren’t as light-hearted as the ones that came before, they’re necessary reads and decisions.
This is my problem: For a lot of the questions posed, my answer seems to be, “I DON’T KNOW!” Those that know me well know that Betsy + Not Knowing (or not being prepared, or not being ready, or not being on-time (on-time is five minutes EARLY, people!)) are like oil and water - we REFUSE to co-mingle. I’ve started to develop a birth plan, which has conjured-up all sorts of indecision and feelings of not-knowing. I mean, what DO I know? I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE.
Do I want to give birth naturally or have an epidural? I DON’T KNOW – What do contractions FEEL like? Am I as tough as I think I am or am I pain intolerant? Will I be one of the women who react badly to an epidural? Will it slow-down MY labor, like it does for some women? Am I part of the “some women” group? If I do get an epidural, do I want to let it wear-off slightly for pushing? I DON’T KNOOOOW.
Do I want an enema during early labor? I DON’T KNOW – I mean, I’d prefer to not poop during the delivery. But will my body empty itself as labor sets-in? What if I'm induced? Is this something that my doctor requires, discourages, or leaves up to me (don’t worry; I’ve made a list of questions for my next appointment. I’ll make Doc sorry for saying to me, “Wow, you’re easy!” at our last appointment. HA! I didn’t have any questions for him because I hadn’t yet stumbled across enemas or early vs. late clamping).
Do you want to use a mirror to watch your baby’s delivery? I DON’T KNOW. NO WAY! Wait, maybe? I’ve watched a birth video or two, and it’s not for the faint-of-heart. Do I really want to see all of THAT? We’re talking a once(maybe twice or three times)-in-a-lifetime chance here. Me: Josh, do you think you’ll look? Josh: (eyes bulge, heavy swallow): NO. I wish blood made ME queasy.
It’s probably not beneficial to put “TBD” next to 50% of the questions on our birth plan. Right now, I’m trying to focus on the things that I DO know the answer to: YES, I want my coach (that’s you, Josh!) present. YES, I want to listen to music. NO, I don’t want medical students using me to learn (SORRY). YES, I’d like to be free to move-around and walk as much as possible. YES, I’d like the baby to be put on my stomach/chest right after delivery. YES, I want to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery.
The truth is, for 50% of the questions I don’t have strong convictions either way. And I don’t think that I will until I’m in the moment. So maybe “to-be-determined” IS my best answer. For now. For some of these things, how can you know (I mean, really know) as a first-timer? We can read and prepare all we want, but we just won't know until we know.