When my OB nursing instructor asked me a question, and I answered “What is a birth plan?”, I knew I’d been multitasking too much again. You see, somebody thought it’d be a fantastic idea to have every lecture in a dark, quiet, and cold computer lab. To fight off afternoon naps, my friends and I began playing online Jeopardy while also taking notes.
Y’all, if you’re ever in a position to schedule where classes take place, please skip the computer labs! In any case, at least I got the answer right. Even if the professor was confused about it being in the form of a question…
In any case, then we went back to our lecture on birth plans, and how they’re both wonderful and unreliable because sometimes Murphy’s Law takes over.
A Birth Plan and Parenting both Emphasize an Idealized Simplicity.
Keep. It. Simple. It must be human nature, when we’re planning something totally new and unfamiliar, to simplify and idealize it beyond all reasonable expectations.
Before kids: “Oh, my kids will eat what I cook for them. They’ll be perfect little angels, complete with dignified Southern manners, yessir’ing and noma’am’ing. And they’ll help me cook and clean, because this is my daydream, so why not?”
And then, reality hits. And it hits hard. Almost as hard as natural childbirth itself.
For each of my children, I’ve had a very simple birth plan. Delivery would be limited to myself, my spouse, and our support team. I’d get to choose an epidural – and I’d probably choose it because pain management is amazing. Oh, and I’d get to eat and drink, because nobody wants a hangry ginger in the delivery room.
Unfortunately for our simple, ideal birth plans and parenting goals, though, Murphy had a few tricks up his sleeve.
But Reality is Complicated, y’all.
Maybe it was because I’d gone through two whole deliveries without experiencing natural contractions or the full brunt of childbirth. Or maybe I was just too tired to notice. However it happened, I woke up late one night completely unaware I was in labor. Luckily, I clued in at about 3 AM – when I realized that I wanted to push this baby out. And that he would totally oblige.
I barely made it to the delivery room. There, my nurse kindly informed me, “Well, I hope you weren’t planning on having an epidural. You’re having this baby right now.” I think I burst into tears at that point, then delivered our third son.
And you know what? It hasn’t changed much since then. Being a parent is a lot of hard work! It’s complicated and messy and rewarding and amazing. You make plans that get thrown out the window by 5 other personalities who disagree with your really-quite-wonderful ideas of eating dinner at the same time or baking homemade wheat bread together.
A Parent’s Superpower is in their Action and Attitude.
But you know what?
Even though life is messy, crazy, complicated, convoluted, and far from how we imagined it, it’s still amazing, wonderful, rewarding, and joyful. And I’ve learned that the difference between bad days and the good ones isn’t how well my kids are behaving. It’s my choosing to act instead of react. And it’s in choosing to have the best attitude possible, no matter what’s going on around us.
Because life will keep throwing curve balls, y’all.
I was fully expecting to get an epidural with my third son’s birth. But that didn’t happen. Sure, I took a moment to cry. But then I saw the support of my husband, the nurses around me, and I owned the decision to accept a natural, painful, wonderful childbirth.
You see, as we learn to adapt and make an intentional decision to welcome those curve balls, we’re going to find greater success and happiness. And who knows? Maybe one of these times we’ll knock that sucker out of the park. And in the meantime, we’re learning, adapting, improving ourselves, and enjoying life in spite of Murphy’s Law.
And because life is crazy complicated, being able to teach these superpowers to our kids? It’s an amazing gift that will help them every single day of their lives.
And it All Works out in the End.
Having a baby and being a parent is a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of planning, guesswork, flying by the seat of your pants, prayer, and support. In fact, maybe childbirth is just an amazing glimpse at what’s to come of parenting.
You plan as best as you can and you pray a lot. You do the best you can, whether you choose an epidural or natural childbirth; free-range parenting or helicoptering the heck outta your children; living a minimalist lifestyle or embracing the chaos of toys everywhere; and you do your best while supporting other parents who are doing their best, too.
Life isn’t all lemons or lemonade. It’s complicated, messy, and wonderful. So embrace it – because you’ve got this.
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