You can prepare yourself for things. You can read, study, and write down your plan. You do all you can, and then you just get on with it. That’s labor. Preparation and then real life. So here’s what I learned during transition (the second stage of labor) in childbirth. It’s what I like to call a “near death experience.”
Transition is that crazy phase of labor where you are going from contractions to push time. All kinds of things can happen during it, but it’s safe to say that when you think you simply cannot take it anymore – you are in luck. When you think you can’t take it you’re usually right where you don’t have to take it anymore because it’s almost over.
It’s called transition. I’ve gotten convulsions, screamed for drugs, and thought a bowling ball was trying to tunnel its way out of my body. Since I’ve only done natural childbirth I’m not sure how others experience transition, but I have to say that it is truly the most intense part. I wonder why on earth I’m more worried about a needle in my back than I am about the pain. Then I have a familiar phrase that goes through my head.
Seemed like a good idea at the time…
When I was pregnant with Pickles a friend told me that childbirth was like a near death experience. I laughed. Then I had my daughter. Then I wondered how she hadn’t smacked me.
1. Just when you think you will surely die…
I will be the first to admit that I am somewhat dramatic. It isn’t that I mean to dramatize, but that I feel things intensely. Don’t be mistaken, I’m definitely not a drama queen. I just think and feel with superlatives. It’s an only child and first-born quality. When I was having my daughter my water had broken hours before so the contractions during transition were particularly strong. I asked and was informed I was at 6cm. I freaked out, thought I was going to die and begged for relief.
Little did I (or my midwife) know that I’d gone from 6 to 10 in a few minutes. In much of my adult life I’ve found – and eventually taken comfort from the fact – that things do indeed seem darkest before the dawn. Usually when I think that something simply has to give or I will (in some fashion) die, things give. Or, I grow to accommodate them.
2. The way you “need” people will vary
Every single child we have my husband comments that it is always a shock to him that I don’t want him, or anyone else, to touch me while I’m in labor. Or at least during contractions. He says growing up watching all those movie where pregnant women wanted to scream at their husbands and squeeze their hands until they cut off the circulation, that is what he always expected. Initially he always tries to give me a back massage or put a hand on my shoulder and see how I am and, though I stop short of smacking him, I am very very averse to being touched while in labor.
Now, that does not mean I want to be alone. I absolutely don’t want to be alone. I simply don’t want to be touched. Other women are different, obviously, and I realized that like in labor, we all need people in different ways. Sometimes we need a hug. Sometimes a phone call will do. And sometimes we might just need someone to sit by us while we persevere.
3. This too shall pass
While in transition if one were rational and able to think clearly (which is obviously not the case) they would see that all they have to do is push through for a few more minutes and it’s over. (Note: I know this is not always the case medically speaking and don’t mean to discount that) I think the pushing portion is easy, relatively painless and gratifying. After a few contractions you have a baby and at least you’re working with the pain instead of simply trying to relax through it.
Transition is where you start losing your mind, thinking this pain will last for the rest of your life and on into heaven and then everything becomes panic-stricken. You were calm and now you’re screaming. You were relaxing and now you’re convulsing. You may throw up. There are any number of behaviors you do that – in normal life – you’d probably avoid.
However, it passes. One way or another it does. In life there are times when we think we simply can’t go on how things are. That is often true. You couldn’t go on in transition indefinitely. We often get so deeply entrenched in the moment that can’t see that somehow, someway, it will surely pass.
Transition is the worst part, in my experience. Though I’ve been blessed and none of the transition periods have actually lasted that long (no more than an hour) they were intense and I was absolutely sure that I might possibly die. But, it passed. All the times in life where I thought I was going to die, whether emotionally, physically or mentally, they passed. They might not have passed straight into green pastures and endless Diet Coke and Reese’s… but they passed.
What have been some “transition” points in your life?
PS – I have done only natural labors basically because I’m more worried about a needle in my back than I am about the pain. Then I always regret my choice and by that point it’s too late. So this post is NOT about some kind of natural vs. medicated birth AT ALL IN ANY WAY. And I realize that for many women labor does not actually transition naturally or in the timeframe that doctors feel comfortable with so please know my heart is not to offend or assume that everyone has labors like mine. I know they do not. My goal for this post was simply to draw some conclusions that I learned from my own experiences and relay them to life in general.
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