The plan is there ain't no plan
A few people have asked me about a birth plan recently. Haven't the foggiest, if I'm honest. I'm rather hoping for an 'it'll be alright on the night' approach, although the closer my due date comes, the more I feel like someone who's signed up for the London Marathon without even going for a jog in training. But I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to want when push comes to shove. Pun very much intended.
There is no definitive answer from me as to how I want to do this and I hope that having no plan is the best plan to mitigate some of the stress.
I haven't had my heart set on delivering him naturally or in water... really, I don't have my heart set on anything other than getting him out in one piece.
At this stage in pregnancy, I've had some ideas. So far, I've been quite keen on an epidural, despite the raised eyebrows it gets. When I read Giovanna Fletcher's 'Happy Mum, Happy Baby', and read her lovely account of hypnobirthing, I looked into that. With mixed results. I like the logic behind hypnobirthing; it's all about regulating your own hormone production through breathing, lowering the adrenaline and raising the oxytocin. I think focusing your mind and shifting your perspective on labour from a stressful experience to a peaceful and positive one is a great thing to be able to do. I've watched videos, I've booked a class, I've practised my breathing... just something isn't quite sitting right with me about it all. I want to be good at it. I want to shift my focus and breathe slowly and calmly, but I can't.
I breathe too fast for starters, slowing my breathing right down ends up in two minutes of wheezing out the lengthy exhales like Darth Vader in yoga pants before frantically gulping in a load of quicker breaths to catch up.
I've said before, I'm rubbish at meditation and when I watch the videos on YouTube of women lolling in pools, surrounded by positive affirmations on postcards and candles, I turn into a harrumphing Victorian man who'd really rather just wait outside with a cigar and a stiff drink until the whole birthing nonsense is over. Shame I got landed with the uterus. I'm sure it's beautiful for the women who manage to do it, but the idea of breathing through contractions with my toddler hovering around the pool and extended family on Skype is not for me. I'm much too British - stick a needle in my back, pop on Fawlty Towers and let me crack on.
I don't want to become a lowing cow in a pool, or have lavender oil rubbed into my temples or a softly spoken woman coaching me through... When you get to the chapter on labour in the baby books, suddenly the woman doesn't sound like a woman anymore, more like a creature that is passed over to the hands of the professionals. Maybe it's from reading too much Sylvia Plath as a teenager, but the idea of becoming this passive vessel whilst everyone fusses around me makes my chest clamp.
There's also the issue of Sam. We spend most of our time together behaving like Statler and Waldorf, there's no way I can take him seriously enough to get my zen on with. That's what you get from ten years of piss-taking and mocking your surroundings.
Come to think of it, I don't think there's a single member of my family that I could take the whole business seriously with. We don't do very well with 'seriousness', but that suits me rather well.
Then there's the question of music. Spa music makes me uncomfortable. At no point in my life have I listened to whale songs and I don't think the sound of Dory from Finding Nemo trying to converse with an Orca is going to bring me into a state of relaxation.
That isn't to say music isn't important for when the day of birth finally rolls around... I've been fiddling away with a Spotify playlist for the last two months, tucked away with track lists from summer BBQs and Halloween parties. I've discreetly named it 'June 2017' as opposed to 'HERE ARE THE SONGS YOU WILL TRY AND BIRTH YOUR CHILD TO UNTIL YOU GET PISSED OFF AT YOUR PAST SELF FOR THINKING 'PUSH IT' BY SALT'N'PEPA WOULD BE FUNNY AND THROW YOUR SPEAKERS OUT OF THE WINDOW - 2017'.
It's a surreal thing to do, creating a playlist for something like childbirth. It seems quite trivial, putting so much effort and thought into what is essentially, a few songs to accompany pushing a baby out. Whilst Sam doesn't think 'You Shook Me All Night Long' by ACDC is an appropriate choice when giving birth, it will have a far better effect on my mental state than Enya will at that point. I hope.
A few more tracks that I've included are: We Run This - Missy Elliott
Proud Mary - Tina Turner
Apply Some Pressure - Maximo Park
Happy Hour - The Housemartins
All Star - Smash Mouth
Tough Lover - Etta James
Golden Brown - The Stranglers
99 Red Balloons - Nena
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight & The Pips
Mess Around - Ray Charles
Pretty Fly For a White Guy - The Offspring
Work Bitch - Britney Spears
Countdown - Beyonce
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
Not Giving In - Rudimental
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
Friday I'm in Love - The Cure
And for if I do feel like something chilled would go down well:
Catch & Release - Matt Simons
Mushaboom - Feist
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
Quelqu'un M'a Dit - Carla Bruni
Me And You - She & Him
Wagon Wheel - Huckleberry Flint
Traveller - Chris Stapleton
So I'm practising my breathing. I'll go to the hypnobirthing class. I'll read more about pain relief and come up with some vague idea of how I want to go about it. And then, because I'm a fickle bitch, I'll arrive at the hospital and those plans will likely go right out of the window.
For now, if I can learn to stay calm and keep my zen with some clever breathing techniques before I get to the hospital, where I can ask a nice doctor to pop a needle in my spine so I can't feel a thing, listen to some Motown and spritz a bit of Chanel Coco Madamoiselle in the room, then that suits me just fine.
If the speakers are broken, Sam's stuck in traffic and they have to slice me open at the last minute to pull the little sod out, so be it.
Sometimes plans just don't go to plan, so my plan is to have no plan. Once it's over, we're all home and I've got a wedge of brie in one hand and a (hopefully) sleeping baby in the other, it really won't matter how we all got there.