Preparing for Birth The Second Time Around - The Game Plan

Everything about this second pregnancy has been so different from my first. I can't believe how excited I am to meet this baby girl, so much more than I ever was with Eli. I feel like I'm just in limbo right now, excitedly waiting for an entirely new life to start, but also trying to soak up these last few days and weeks of just having one. I've been getting a lot of questions lately asking if I'm feeling ready for this birth, if I've completely "worked through my feelings," a la the traumatic birth post and what my "game plan is" for labor and delivery.

And that's such a loaded question, it's really hard to answer.
Per the pic above - isn't it crazy how lopsided your belly starts to get as baby gets bigger and there's hardly any room for them? I just want to poke her and say, "Look sharp baby girl, we're taking a pic and I need my belly to be symmetrical!" One can wish ...

For a while, I was thinking that I'd just go straight for the epidural. That I'd walk into that hospital, hand them my birth plan and all it would say in huge, bold, capital letters was, "EPIDURAL ASAP." There's part of me that thinks if I get the epidural right away, they'll have time to fix it if it doesn't work again. That by preemptively easing the pain of the contractions, I can avoid flashbacks and just watch Hulu and nap and play Sudko while I meet baby girl.

But there's another part of me that wants to prove to myself that I can do it again. That I can birth a child naturally and not have it be such a negative experience. To at least try to go natural as far as possible - knowing I could get an epidural if it becomes too much. But the thing is, I'm scared that if I choose an epidural later in labor, it might not work like last time, so I'll be stuck again. Then like last time, I'll have to lie there, with all the cords and needles and everything in me, still feeling all the pain and not able to move around or labor how I'd like to. So then I don't want to get one at all, ever, ever again because I just hate epidurals.

(Please hear me, I have nothing against epidurals - I just had a bad experience when mine didn't take so my feelings about them are so mixed, convoluted and confusing that I likely don't even make sense when talking about them.)

But I knew if I even wanted to try to go natural, I'd need to actually deal more with my emotions and prepare for birth in a way that would give me the best shot I could at making it to the finish.

So I decided to get a doula for this birth. Part of me was scared to get one, simply because I was nervous that getting one was sending a major signal in favor of a natural birth and that I'd feel pressure to go natural all the way - just because I was paying her to help me do so. But at the same time, I knew I likely wouldn't have the wherewithal to even attempt to do it on my own if I didn't get one.

We've met a couple of times lately, and it's been really healing. Not only because she seems smart and confident and has all these little techniques and tools for "comfort measures" during birth, but also because she, Mike and I have talked backwards and forwards about my first birth, and she's been really helpful in helping me understand some of the reasons why things unfolded like they did and how to (hopefully) avoid the same things happening this time.

When she asked me what my wish was for this birth, I told her it was to not want to die in childbirth and actually like my baby when she arrived. Eventually we changed that to having "birth be a more positive experience," and while at first I hesitated to even put the word "positive" next to "birth," I've had time to think about it and I think that's exactly what I'm hoping for.

Not to go natural. Not to have an epidural that works. Not to have a short labor.  Not to stall out for hours on end. Not to have baby in optimal position, rather than sunny side up. Not to avoid back labor. Those hopes are too specific. For me, I just hope it will be a more positive experience - however it looks. Maybe it will be longer than Eli's birth. Maybe I'll nearly have a home birth. Maybe I'll go natural, maybe I won't. I don't really care, and my doula and midwife don't either. I just hope to come away from it with a few less flashbacks than I had last time.

And so I suppose, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I feel like I'm on this ledge, just waiting to tip over the edge. Not really sure when or how I'll fall, but just ready to get going. Like studying for a test, there's just this point where you know it or you don't and you simply can't study any more - you just need to take the test. That's where I'm at. I don't really know what I know or what I don't. Just that I'll love the end result. I'm nervous for the process to get to that end result, yes. But I'm also strangely excited to just have another crack at the process.

It's a weird feeling. But it's so much better than how I felt at the beginning of this pregnancy. And really, I've come a long, long way. And so we'll see. The game plan is that there really is no game plan. Just a momma wanting to meet her baby - however it looks. And that is game plan enough for me.

psst. The winner of the Dana Decal's giveaway is Rachel Rohde. Rachel, check your email for a note from me to claim your prize!


  1. Great post! I love your newly worded birth plan- to have a positive birth experience this time. I have a lot of the same feelings, and although I know I will be attempting a VBAC with a second baby and that is VERY important to me, I just want the rest to be positive, whether that be natural/epidural/at home/etc.

  2. A doula was the absolute best decision my husband I and had made in regards to labor and birth and I recommend a doula (and chiropractic care!) to every pregnant mama I know. Best of luck to you -- I can't wait for you to introduce us to your little lady!

  3. I'm so glad to hear you loved your doula so much! I'm already loving mine - so I'm sure I'll feel like you when it's said and done!

  4. Yes - I'm so thankful for my doula for figuring that one out for me! And it relieves so much pressure and expectation. Best of luck in your next birth, that's awesome you're going for the VBAC!

  5. Yay Laura!! Glad to hear you're already feeling supported by your doula, and empowered for this birth! I've been thinking about you and praying the birth of your daughter is a healing experience!

  6. Thanks Brayta! It was great having a doula and now that Colette is here, I can definitely say it was a healing experience! I had no idea how different it could be. Thanks for your prayers!