I'm now 17 weeks along with my third baby. And while it's my third-time-around, preparing for the upcoming birth is anything but routine. My first two births didn't fall into the category of a traumatic birth by any means, but I also wouldn't describe them as what I wanted. Without getting into the nitty gritty, step-by-step details of each birth (another day, another time), the bottom line is that I ended up having an epidural (each time) that I really didn't want.As I think back on each experience and ponder the whys and hows, I come up with an explanation that involves inadequate support and a major lack of confidence. My husband, who is a wonderfully involved father and the type of guy who shares nearly all of our household responsibilities, was not comfortable with supporting me in a natural birth. So many people talk about women fearing the pain of childbirth, but in my case (and I suspect for many women), it was my husband who feared watching me deal with the pain. And while he never pushed me into having an epidural, knowing his thoughts on the issue was enough for me to lose confidence in my ability.This time around, before we even started to conceive, my husband and I had a long talk about birth, what it means to me and how I need more than just his undying love--I need his full support in preparing for an epidural-free birth. You know what they say about third time's a charm... He's behind me 100%. That being said (and it truly feels wonderful, like a weight has been lifted), my husband will not magically turn into a natural birth supporting guru overnight--nor do I expect him to. And so, we're hiring a doula. And we are both thrilled--and relieved.More to come with details on my first doula meeting and what I'm doing physically to cope with pregnancy and prepare for birth.