Before I gave birth, people often asked me about my birthing plan. I thought it was the most absurd, idealistic thing ever.
The only plan I had was that I wasn’t taking anything off the table – including inductions, pain relief, drugs, and epidurals.
The only outcomes I absolutely wanted to avoid were forceps and c-section.
When my waters were broken under gas after a lengthy induction, I had a hunch that it wouldn’t be smooth sailing. After hours of labour, I received an epidural due to the intensity of contractions brought about by induction hormones.
When I developed an infection, the whole thing went tits-up and I almost bled to death under general anaesthetic. I had a c-section and my son was delivered with forceps. As I spent the next week in hospital, I had a lot of time to ponder my own mortality through a somewhat traumatised lens.
There is something about waking up with the after-effects of having breathing tubes down your throat that is incredibly sobering.
After two days in hospital, I was sleep deprived. I was dealing with the physical effects of a significant blood loss and trying to persevere with breastfeeding. At one stage, I had a bad dream that I couldn’t feed my baby and my limbs were falling off as I melted into the lawn. When I woke up, I felt like the whole room was filling with smoke.
This was the beginning of C-PTSD which was brought about by my birthing process.
Although the birth in and of itself was physically and psychologically traumatic, the part that disturbed me the most was that when our son was born, I had no will in place. So if I had died, nobody would have known what my wishes were.
It had always been on our list of things to do, we had just never done it. Part of the reason was that we felt fit and healthy, but the other part was a sense of dread about considering the end of our lives. As I spoke to more people about this, I realised I wasn’t the only one.
And why is that?
Despite all of our best efforts with our health and personal safety, the human mortality rate stands at 100%.
In other words, we are all going to die.
My son’s birth made me acutely aware of my need to do something about my end-of-life-plan. Although people celebrate birth and my son’s birth was no different, I spent those first few weeks of his life organising my will, making sure my address was up to date with the university that will receive my body for science when I’m done, and deciding who would fulfil my wishes in my absence.
It was depressing – but it was completely necessary.
If you are reading this, I want to encourage you to act now if you haven’t already. Speak to the people who you think should raise your child in the unfortunate event that your child loses both their parents. Organise your will. Get plans in place.
If you need to, get a folder and label it ‘My End-of-life Plan.’ Add your will and instructions to it, and make sure people know where it is.
It would be the worst thing ever if the world lost you – but it would be harder for the people you leave behind, in their grief, to deal with a logistical and organisational mess.
Sometimes it pays to have a plan, even if it seems absurd.