Whole Parenting Family

Planning for Birth, and Preparing for the Unknown 


I love to plan. Not because I’m type A (more like B+), but because I love to know where I am going so that little anxious part inside of me can take comfort. At least I made a plan, I’ll think. Even if it goes awry. At least I wasn’t caught unawares. At least I had some chance to brace myself for it, whatever it it may be.

Babies and birthing are one of those mysterious areas of life where preparing and planning, while crucial for informing our reactions, are somewhat negligible.

I firmly believe in taking a childbirth education class, unless you were raised around midwives and picked up on birth stuff. Most of us never have had any exposure to anything remotely birthy beyond a “rush to the hospital, scream, and push” scene in a movie.

I’m a big believer in doulas, a hired labor support person above and beyond your partner.

I’m a big believer in writing out a birth plan, reading as much as you can, watching documentaries, and asking women about their births.

Yet. And yet. All that planning and preparing and honing your instincts and setting your expectations to a much lower dial doesn’t mean things will go as you ever imagined them.

So while I sit here, 39 weeks pregnant, in deep anticipation of this coming labor, I still have to tell myself that ultimately, I’m not in control. I’m just not. My capable midwife, the nursing staff, the surgeons if I need them down the hallway, my loving husband who is the best birthing partner, we none of us are in control. We do our best, but birth is its own beast. We hope, we pray, we trust with an open heart.

Maybe our daughter won’t survive birth. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have a c-section. Maybe we will both have major health complications. Most likely everything will be just fine and as smooth and ordinary as my other labors.

So instead of worrying and wondering, I’m trying to actually clear my mind this round. We’re practicing our Bradley Method breathing. I’m warning that I want directed pushing so I don’t just blow through crowning. I’m facing the excruciating pain of labor as my job, my part to play to bring her into this world. It’ll happen. And then it will be done. It’s a finite activity. And nothing can be harder to recover from than my last baby’s birth, nor has any pregnancy felt more physically taxing than this one, so either way, no matter how she comes out, it will be done.

It’s Advent, a time of preparing and preparation. A time of stunning joy and sheer gratitude at our amazing Creator God Who sends His Son to save us. A time of true blessing for my little family as we prepare to greet our littlest member. I have no idea what it will be like to have four kids. I have no idea what her personality will be like. But I’m embracing the unknowns here, and simply waiting without a firm plan but with a lot of faith.


  1. Patty on December 13, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Praying for you, Anthony, the kiddles, and baby I these final days…
    I have to imagine this is so cool to experience in the time of Advent 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      If I had a deeper spirituality, I’m sure I’d be more in touch with BVM and our parallel journeys. It’s so cool to be pregnant around this time, though! Praying my Rosary that I can appreciate it.

  2. Sarah on December 13, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I will be praying for you as I remember in these next weeks. The arrival of this baby around Christmas will be SO sweet after all you have endured in pregnancy. After having had a huge almost 10lber with my third also, and a natural birth, I know your tunnel toward labor now. So I will be praying your mind will be clear and unafraid until you’re just in the midst of the work, doing it. Finite! Yes! And then lovely baby!!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you! You know how it is after a big baby, then!!

  3. Christy on December 13, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I remember being pregnant in Advent and feeling at the same time both extra anticipatory, and also extra aware of how the sacrifice of carrying a child is a sacrifice from beginning to end like it was for Mary. It all made things seem so much bigger than me, and I felt so tight with Mary. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and see her sweet little face as you share a picture on instagram, I’m praying for you Nell!

  4. AnneMarie on December 13, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    You look so fabulous, Nell! I’m very excited for you and your family, and you will be in my prayers.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Your prayers mean so so much!!

  5. Margie on December 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I’m so happy for you and your growing family! With both pregnancies thus far, I’ve been nearly third trimester at Advent/Christmas; it’s a beautiful experience, and gives a whole new window into the meaning of both. So much added anticipation and joy in which to partake, too, in this already anticipatory and ultimately joyful season.

    Also, your approach to labor being a finite experience is the mark of a wise, tested mother. I, too, found that comforting and helpful with my mental endurance. I used to run marathons and longer distances (many moons ago, now – ha!) and found that labor, similarly, was as much about mental endurance as it was physical. Although for me, labor was both longer and far, far more painful than ANY marathon! (Makes me think running distances might seem like a breeze again, once my kids aren’t exhausting my energy supply completely someday…)

    I am praying for you and your baby girl, and ask that the Blessed Virgin and Sts. Gerard and Gianna pray for you both, and carry you both to a healthy and happy delivery, along with many, many good years ahead for all.

    P.S. I’ll have to check your blog to see whether you talk about natural parenting and getting pregnant beyond the first one or two kids. We did ok going from one to two. Now, as we’re thinking about number 3, I’m realizing (still without my menstrual cycle) that getting my cycle back in order to get pregnant may take more thought than I had imagined! Or, a realization of how much of this truly is not in our hands, but God’s.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 16, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Way to go, running mama!! And thank you so much for the prayers. I need them! I do talk quite a bit about NFP and pregnancies on the blog so try searching “NFP”?