On themes and plans

Before we got married, I was asked a few times by people in the industry and a few of my friends what the theme for our wedding was going to be. I’d never thought of weddings as things that needed to be ‘themed’ – what do people choose? Alice in Wonderland? Baywatch? Goths-in-a-forest? I never came up with a good response, but a friend of mine tells people that the theme for her wedding is going to be ‘lifelong commitment’. Which I think is fantastic – that’s what the wedding’s all about.

She’s inspired me to respond to questions like ‘Do you have your birth plan ready?’, ‘What’s your birth plan?’ and ‘Have you given the hospital your birth plan yet?’ as follows:

My ‘birth plan’

1. Check into hospital on the relevant date.

2. Do everything the nurses tell me.

3. Trust the professionals (surgeons, obstetrician, pediatrician and nurses) to do their jobs.

4. Have a healthy baby delivered.

5. Follow the doctors’ advice on how to keep the baby alive.

The end

Some women, apparently, have very specific ideas about what they want to happen leading up to, during and after the birth – like, how many hours after birth they want the baby to latch on to their boobs, when they want the baby to be bathed, how many minutes after birth they want their partners to cut the umbilical chord, the exact distance they want their baby’s crib to be from their bed while they’re in hospital, and which tools the doctors should or shouldn’t use on them and their baby.

My opinion is that having such detailed, specific ideas on what you want to happen around a highly volatile procedure, over which, let’s be honest, you actually have very little control (even in the most ‘natural’ of births, you don’t know what the baby’s going to do or where it’s going to decide to put its head) is setting yourself up for disappointment. My take on the whole birth thing is that the professionals in the hospital have delivered hundreds and thousands of babies, and they will know better than I, as a brand-new mother, what is best. Obviously, if I take issue with something they do to me or the baby, I’ll ask them to stop, but to set my hopes on things going a certain way seems like a pretty good way to guarantee a sense of failure.

You might think I’m putting a lot of trust in other people, and that writing a ‘birth plan’ will at least give me the illusion of control – but, to be honest, this is one scenario in which I don’t want to be in control. It will be the first time I get a baby lifted out my belly, and frankly, I don’t have an opinion on what will and won’t work.

It’s quite a lot like having very specific ideas about what you want for your wedding, actually. If you are set on having guests all ringing little silver bells as soon as you walk out the church because it fits in with your perfectly coordinated Elegant Silver theme, say, and it comes to the moment and 10 of them are flicking through their photos of the ceremony on their cameras, half of them miss the cue and carry on standing around chatting, and another group of them are trying to brush off the pollen that’s stained one of the bridesmaid’s dresses – when you walk out of that church, you’re going to be pretty pissed off. Which is really, really not worth it, considering that your wedding is only the first in a lifetime of moments with your partner.

And birth is just the first few moments of the rest of your relationship with your kid. I hope to get them out the way as painlessly as possible so that we can get on with the business of getting to know and love each other.


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