The phase that every natural laboring mother dreads. It's the point of no return. Basically, too late for an epidural, contractions overlapping at times, the most strenuous part of labor but blessedly, also the shortest. Typically "transition" is when you go from 7 to 10cm dilated and lasts 45min-1 1/2 hours. Yup...you spend anywhere from 4 to 24 hours going from 3cm to 7 and then...whammo! You get to go the last 3 cm in an hour. It's crazy fun!
It's also where our birth story got a little interesting. To help understand it, let's just remember how we kicked off this labor. A really powerful laxative. So, even before the contractions hit there was some...erm...cramping going on. Well, pretty soon after I not so subtly asked Wilson to take a back seat to this labor process I started feeling that same type of laxative-induced cramping again, along with the contractions. I didn't think much of it. I mean, I'd been having these cramps earlier in the evening so why wouldn't I be having them again? Well, that was all until Ashely, my midwife, strolls in and says in an amazingly sweet and soothing tone,
"So, when you get that urge to push, just try not to. Ok?"
Um...come again? Urge to what? PUSH?? I can't push! I'm only 7cm dilated! Cue freak out moment. My thoughts raced...If I push on a cervix that's not fully dilated, my cervix will swell and stop dilating and I'll need an emergency C-section. I CANNOT PUSH. That became my mental mantra. I cannot push. Whatever happens, no matter what it takes, I absolutely positively cannot push.
Easier said than done. For those of you who've never been through natural labor and felt what the medical community so blithely calls "the urge to push", let me give you a corollary. Bear with me, it's kinda gross. We've all had diarrhea before. You know that uncontrollable feeling that you MUST go RIGHT NOW? I want you to imagine that. Now multiply it times 10. Now...just for kicks....do it again. That's pretty much what it's like. And they're telling me to not bear down. Riiiiigghht... Folks, this is not an "urge" to push. It's a physiological incapability of doing anything else.
So in short, I tried not to push. Wilson and I breathed deeply like they told us to in our birth classes and it just wasn't working. And every time that little push broke through my deep breaths, I panicked a little. Then my brilliant midwife came to my rescue again. She said "Honey, try to breathe efffs." So we did. With every contraction, Wilson and I held hands and said "Ffffffffffffffff" over and over again. I remember sitting in the bathtub (which was a monumental help, btw. Seriously), staring at the grout in between the tiles on the wall. There was one intersection of grout that I squinted at and focused all my "fffffffff"s on. And so it went. As best I remember I succeeded in resisting the urge to push about 2/3 to 3/4 of the time. Not too shabby.
At this point, my contractions had 30 seconds or less time between them. Every once in a while one would start before the previous one had finished. I can honestly say that I don't remember much pain during this time. It was just so incredibly intense. I find I'm clenching my jaw and getting a little headache as I type this, remembering how intense it was.
I don't know how she decided it was time, but at about 6am, before the birth assistant had arrived, the midwife wanted to check me and see how dilated I was. I opted to let her check me out of the tub for more accuracy. Getting from the tub to the bed was an ordeal (remember...still no time between contractions) and right as I was sitting down, I felt something. I remember thinking clearly, "I don't know if I just peed or if my water broke." Of course, in my present state of mind, all I could actually say aloud was, "I don't know." Haha, real helpful. And then...it felt like I was suddenly trying to hold a ball between my knees. Something was THERE. So I said, "Something's there!". Ashley was trying to get me to lay back so she could check me but I was still contracting and wanted to lean forward, so she reached up and pushed me back against the bed. And then she said the magic words.
"You're 10 centimeters."
I said, "I am? Can I push?"
"Go ahead and push."
Oh man, was I ever ready to push. It was just me, the midwife, and Wilson, and I was about to have a baby.