What do you wish you knew about pregnancy?

Did you attend a class to prepare for the birth of your child? Did you read books, watch videos, and stay up to all hours on Pinterest?
I know I did. But each child brought me down a different path of pain and labor management. And there was always something more I wish I knew.

My first delivery was at home with a midwife. I had my daughter standing up, like a powerful goddess, though I didn't feel like one. I felt like my body was just doing what it needed to, and felt totally uninvolved in the process. I was young, hadn't planned or read any books, and YouTube didn't even exist.  While I listened to my body and felt like I had a great birth, I was just along for the ride.

My second delivery was planned at Austin Area Birthing Center, and promised to be a lot like the first, but with more sacredness and focus. We took their group prenatal classes, called "Centering", and enjoyed it thoroughly. We were one of 3 couples with more than one child, and I loved passing knowledge and stories on to the new mamas. I was excited to go through labor again. As a couple, I felt like we were ready. Then, once the day came, I needed an emergency c-section. I wasn't ready for that. None of my planning had included a trip to the hospital. I didn't receive my daughter on my chest. I didn't see her vernix or smell her head. I sat alone in a recovery room for an hour before I even really met her. I found out later that my husband cried in the hallway while I was getting my spinal block (I had an infection of the kidneys) and most of what I can remember about him from early labor was his eyes in the rear view mirror as he drove us to the hospital.

My third delivery was a VBAC at the same birth center. I was determined. I was prepared.  I was older and wiser and really ready this time. I knew exactly what I wanted, and what to ask for at the hospital if I ended up there. I was prepared for the fact that anything could happen, but I felt like I was so internally supported that I could handle whatever came my way. I could make anyscenario have my 'ideal' qualities. I was empowered. And my birth was fan-freaking-tastic.

But do moms have to give birth three or more times to have the birth that they want? It shouldn't have to be that way. There are too many of us that want do-overs, mostly because we didn't know then what we know now. Birth is unpredictable. It is filled with variables and split-second decisions. It deals with everything from science to philosophy, and from mindset to microbiology. So how, then, can we really have an ideal birth?

I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, and that the more we can do to plan, the better our experience will be. And I am NOT a planner. But with birth, the more you can visualize as the experience that you want, the more it is likely to happen. And the more you can morph you ideas in the moment to meet the experience you're having.

It is a dance of flexibility and flow. Of holding on and letting go. It's something you can't fathom until you're in the moment. So how do you teach preparedness?

I'm in the process of developing birthing classes to help to do just that. And the questions I keep asking myself (and my husband, and my friends, and my clients) is what do you wish you knew? What did you learn that you would have benefitted from before you were in the thick of it?

Please feel free to answer here, or in a private message. I welcome all responses. They will help me to craft my curriculum, and will give me invaluable insight.