I loved her description of what her labor felt like, especially as she approached transition. I can very much relate to labor being "so purposeful that it feels overwhelming. It triggers the feeling of action - that you need to DO something." Just 30 or 40 minutes before Dio was born, I remember having incredibly intense contractions. I felt that little hint of pushiness and had an almost irresistible need to drop down on my knees. And a feeling of urgency and forward momentum.
I continued to have Jeremy rub my shoulders, and during this time, the contractions started changing from strong and powerful to painful and purposeful. I said to Jeremy, "I have no idea how women transport to the hospital in active labor. You could not pay me enough to get me down those stairs and into the car right now."At the end of her birth story, Emily compared and contrasted her emotional experiences of giving birth. You don't have to have a candle-lit, romantic birth with Enya playing in the background for birth to be amazing and perfect. It can be raw and painful and overwhelming and even a bit scary in parts--and still be wonderful and just what it needed to be.
It is an interesting and indescribable sensation, transition contractions. It is usually at that stage most women have the feeling that they can't go on, and often the stage at which women begin begging for pain medications. Now, it can be very painful during that time, but more often, it is so purposeful that it feels overwhelming. It triggers the feeling of action - that you need to DO something. If you are at home, and have freedom of movement, it is easy enough to listen to that feeling. I can imagine that for women in the hospital (as it was for me in previous births), being strapped into a bed at that moment would be frightening and create a "caged animal" feeling. Well, in my case, they were definitely painful. I knew now was the time to just hang on and relax, and try my best to get through the contractions until it was time to push, which I also knew would not be long, if I was in transition.
I couldn't have asked for a better birth. In a way, emotionally this birth wasn't much different from my hospital births. I had always ignored the staff around me and done my own thing anyway, so I already felt very confident in listening to my body. But the difference was NO HASSLE. No needles, tubes, machines that go Ping!, nurses, doctors, strangers, vitals, meds, beds, smells, stupid questions or irritating orders.
For a long time after Ruby's birth, I felt as if I did everything "wrong." The labor was fast, it was painful, I made a ton of noise, and nothing about it seemed particularly spiritual or life-changing. I had none of the usual cultural rituals surrounding childbirth, such as going-home outfits, footprint certificates, or official visitors. And on top of all that, I could not share my birth story with anyone without getting that, "Are you crazy???" look. It is a sad statement on the state of birth culture in our country when a woman who births naturally, in her own environment, following her human instinct, surrounded by her loved ones, is considered the weirdo.
In any case, it has taken me a good while to understand that a birth experience doesn't have to be anything but what you want it to be. My birth doesn't have to be new-age-y, magical, ethereal or painless for it to be meaningful, and it doesn't have to be supervised, technological, or professionally observed to be safe and successful. In other words, my birth was exactly what it needed to be for me: normal.