Three things struck me after our son was born:
Leaving home for the hospital is disruptive. Just when we really needed to hunker down, dim the lights and be together we had to leave. We drove, checked in, went to the room and settled in again. It’s like driving downfield in football, turning the ball over, waiting to get the ball back and then getting back on field in worse field position than before. Birth, like consistent offense, needs rhythm.
I could have done a better job supporting my wife and, by extension, my little boy. Books and videos are certainly helpful but experiencing labor & birth in person is something else. It’s hard to do something with no experience and limited practice – just like the difference between a football minicamp and a live game. The best you can do in minicamp is run drills and simulate game conditions – the same thing applies to birth. I needed to focus and prepare better the next time.
I’ll also admit something here – I spent maybe an hour really thinking about and preparing for birth. I spent some more time reading (not too much), but the amount of time I spent thinking and planning how I would be and what I would do during birth was probably 45-60 minutes. And I didn’t spend any of that thinking of what I might need. Had I honestly thought about it at the time, I would have known that I was underprepared.
Experienced labor support would have made the difference. Our doula had limited experience with natural birth but she was the only person at the birth we actually knew. Our OB was away at a conference and our midwife was more medically oriented than we preferred – plus we only met her the night before. We weren’t surrounded by people we knew & trusted – and they didn’t know what we really wanted our birth to be like.