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The birth of a child is a wonderful thing. But as my wife and I found with the birth of our daughter six months ago, it can be scary, frustrating, extremely challenging and enormously rewarding. The prize is something you’ll cherish forever. This article is simply meant as a guide for parents who must plan a birth, find out what all the options are and face the hurdles at the hospital.

A starting point as you look ahead to the big arrival is a birth plan – an outline of procedures you do or do not want and other details of how you want the pregnancy to go. While you can try to cover all of the bases – the right hospital room, the right plan of action when labor starts, a sunny day, etc. -- things don’t always roll along smoothly.

No matter what you plan, fate has different plans. The best thing to do is to go with the flow and take an educated step forward. Our midwife, who we relied on heavily throughout the birth, told us that this was the “Zen” birth. We simply had to accept the path at our feet and walk ahead. We still got through the woods, it just wasn’t the way that showed on our map. We don’t regret a bit of it, looking back. We were so glad that we got a beautiful little baby and she and her mother were both healthy.

This is not to say that you should go along with everything they ask of you in the hospital. Get informed. Understand inducement and the things that go along with it. Know why the doctor or midwife wants you to take medications. Never forget that you have the final say in what’s done. When it comes to a medical decision, they probably do know what’s best. But don’t be afraid to question that. Make them convince you why it’s best. You might end up finding an even better solution.

After we had our baby, my wife and I both saw a little humor in our birth plan. As we went down the list of procedures and problems to avoid -- fetal monitor, intravenous heplock, inducement drugs, artificially rupturing membranes and more – we got it all. Our “natural childbirth” ended up being the most technically sophisticated surgical moment in our lives. We ended up having a C-section. That was all OK, though. In the end, it’s simply about doing whatever it takes to get there. Once that baby arrives, the concerns and plans and preparations aren’t nearly as important as the face of your little one (or two or more).