With my first birth, it seemed as if I was going to move into the hospital. I had 3 massive pillows, 2 suitcases full of my clothes, toiletries and baby things. I had a CD player and 2 miniature speakers to play my homemade list of songs, one of which was Eminem’s Lose Yourself, which seemed like the ideal song to push the baby out, even though I had never had any experience in pushing a baby out.
If I thought something might come in handy at the birth, I threw it into our Toyota Sienna. In times of uncertainty, I tend to rely on “my things” to help me through. So the car got stuffed and more stuffed and more stuffed.
When it was time to go to the hospital, there was just barely enough room for me and my doula to squeeze in the back. At that point though, I couldn’t even consider sitting down. I draped myself over the seat and was shocked to hear the sound of a bullet and my pants ballooning out behind me.
“That was your water breaking,” said my doula. I just stared at her. I pictured water trickling down my legs whenever I heard the term water breaking, but this was a plug shooting out of me before the trickling happened. Nothing could have prepared me for that gunshot.
We got to the hospital and parked in an emergency spot and Derek left all of the doors and the trunk opened, so he could go back and easily bring in my stuff for the birth. But that never happened. Things progressed quickly and in between contractions, Derek asked if he should get any of my things.
“Do you want to hear your pushing song?” he asked, while I was pushing. I just glared at him. None of my things were going to make me feel better or make me get a hang of this pushing thing. I was on a rollercoaster ride and it was all I could do to hold on for dear life. I had me, my doula and my husband and there was no way I was going to let any of them out of that room and abandon me just to get some stupid song that while in a non-labor state thought it might help me in birth. This felt like an all out war and I needed my troops with me and not a bunch of what I now saw as junk.
After hours of labor, our Sienna was still parked in the 20 minute emergency zone with all its doors open and all of my stuff luckily intact.
With my second birth, I had a small bag packed and a few pillows. Our Sienna sat on the curb with its door opened and the engine running to warm up as it was the middle of winter. I never made it to the car as I ended up in an unexpected home birth. We completely forgot about the open and running car until after the baby was born. We figured it didn’t get stolen because there was so many ambulances and firetrucks parked outside our house.
With the third, I had a tiny bag ready. And with the fourth, I only packed an emergency bag as I planned a home birth.
But the question remains: What do you bring to your birth, whether it be home or hospital? If bringing everything along with the kitchen sink makes you feel better and you have the space, bring it. You might use all of your things and you might not use a speck of them and that’s ok. But most importantly, bring your supporters if you can, bring those people that lift you up, help you dig deep. Bring those people where you can be your true self to the core of you, the ones who will stand by your side and keep cheering you to the depths of your being.
And, of course, don’t forget you. I know that sounds strange, but I found that often during my births, I wasn’t really present, not quite all there. Too busy worrying and wondering, which is easy to do when you are in an uncertain and often scary time. Take a millisecond, which is often as much time as you will have when riding the birth roller coaster. Find yourself, your center. Take a breath, find your inner self, give her a high five and a pat on the back. She is doing a fabulous job. Then get back in there, squeeze the hand of your greatest cheerleader and labor on, baby.
(And maybe lock your car doors, too).
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