Wednesday, July 31, 2013

transition and whimsicality

 MN Twins Baseball on Tuesday

I have experienced a slllooow descent into the down-below world of midwifery. For many midwives and nurses, it is a decision they make quickly and there are not a lot of "should I do this" wrestling questions for them. 

For me, it was a very slow process of dipping a toe in the weirdwife world and helping administratively for a time before I ever considered putting gloves on and getting in there.

Because of this slow and steady progression and the deliberately paced movement toward this work, I am hyper aware that I should not write in detail about things beginning with v and ending in ina or beginning with p and ending in centa. I am cognizant that my deep and growing love for things related to the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth are conversations best kept to the midwifery crowd. I get that the word 'crowning' is too much gore for some.

Hear me out though, because today I want to talk briefly about transition.

During the first stage of labor transition is very easy to identify. This is the part of labor that most typically happens as a woman goes from 7 to 10 cm and gets ready for the second stage (pushing the kid out). Most women show clear signs of total discomfort and changed behavior during transition.

A UK website describes it like this:
Contractions will be incredibly intense and you may have very little time to rest between each one. You may feel faint, sick, wobbly, hot and sweaty or cold and chilly.
Don't be surprised if you completely zone out during this phase and become unaware of your surroundings. (It's also traditionally the point where some mums lose the plot, decide they really can't be bothered anymore and try to walk out.)
Things to do during transition
  • Take it one contraction at a time - don't worry about the next ones
  • Change position - you might find a more comfortable one
  • Don't push - puff and blow instead
  • Get rid of any distractions - be that the radio or your partner
  • Whatever helps you through - yelling, moaning, telling your partner to "go away" - even listening to James Blunt - are all totally acceptable at this point
(Courtesy Mumsnet)

As I drove a midwife friend to the Port au Prince airport recently, she listened while I lamented about the packing and planning and utter stress of getting ready to head to America, "Well it is called transition!" she said.

As I look at the list of things describing transition in labor, I realize that transition in life is chillingly similar. I do indeed feel wobbly, cold, then hot and sweaty. I have been found zoned out. (i.e. left my phone on a shelf at Target, told my friend a story about Isaac that she had been present for and seen herself just a short time before I told the story, we cancelled plans that involve leaving with the kids because so many plans are overwhelming, etc., etc. - we are zoning out here and there) I have "lost the plot" and, I'm not gonna lie, I've considered doing something about my partner. Especially after he unpacked three bags that I had packed to perfection and weighed in at a precisely 50lbs - he said, "I thought I was helping!". It has been helpful to yell, moan, and tell Troy to go away. 

The kids are also in transition. They are hyper little freaks about strawberries and grapes and unlimited jars of pickles, yes, that is true. They are mainly very happy with all the excitement. They are joy and wonder at everything new they experience and see. But, when we are away from all other people, and it is just our family and we are in the safe place of feeling whatever we need to feel, there have been tears, frustration, and a lot of wailing. Hope and Lydia have both asked to "stop going so much places". This is a tiring adjustment. Transition is uncomfortable for them too. 

Yesterday someone was chatting with me and said, "When I was thinking about what I would do for my career, I chose to have a stable life for my kids." I listened carefully as he went on and described his path. I heard him and I knew that he was saying, "Dang woman - your life is unstable!" It is true. By comparison to some lifestyles, this is instability

I decided not to take his comment personally. It isn't personal. It is a choice. We made it and we recognize it can been seen as unconventional. I don't love the pain of transition for myself or my kids but I don't know that I want stability to be my most important value, either. 

I think there must be a nicer word for instability. Maybe we are unstable, but also, maybe we are just "excelling in whimsicality".  

We assume transition will take a month or two, we will find our groove just in time to prepare to go home again. It is what it is. More than anything, we are grateful to our support-team for allowing us to come work on our midwifery and dentistry education and to be right by Paige's side while she makes her new life in Texas. We truly couldn't imagine asking her to figure this out on her own and we appreciate that those of you that help us live in Haiti are willing to also help us be there for Paige right now. We love and appreciate each of you and thank you for this gift.  

I need to wrap this up. The small people have just woken up, the twenty-third pound of strawberries is about to be polished off ...Yes, they have eaten three+ pounds of strawberries since we arrived. I think it is kind of gross  - but also very impressive. 

...And we are off, another day of transition; taking it one contraction at a time.