With my three previous births, the transition from 7 to 10 centimeters took me deeper and deeper into the inner recesses of my consciousness. As I pulled further and further into myself, I would dig for any reserves of strength and endurance. Simultaneously I would be taken up and outside of myself to distant spaces somewhere between earth and heaven, almost completely oblivious to my actual physical surroundings and anyone in them. Between contractions, I was typically extremely relaxed and motionless with my eyes closed. Basically, during transition, I’m usually simultaneously high and sedated from the influence of massive amounts of natural opiates (endorphins).
But there I was… nine centimeters with baby #4… and my head was still firmly on this planet? I’d never experienced anything like this before.
After checking my cervix, Mary suggested that I get up on my knees, leaning over my birth ball, to encourage the baby to descend, and do some nipple stimulation to get some good “mean” contractions coming. In retrospect, I can tell you how wise and merciful it was for her to encourage those “mean” contractions. Endorphins are an important part of the birth process, and they’re released in response to pain. Minimal pain, in my case, translated to minimal endorphin release—not the ideal way to prepare for a mini-person to squeeze through my lady parts. Pushing has always been the easiest part of childbirth for me because I’m usually swimming in natural opiates. This time, Mary could tell (and I could tell) that I was most definitely not swimming in opiates. So, nipple stim we did. That’s when my doula arrived with her camera and started snapping pictures.
Knowing how soon the birth would be upon us, we also called for my five-year-old daughter to come upstairs. Before I even became pregnant, she told me she wanted to be my doula the next time I had a baby. She’s my little “birth junkie” and could watch birth YouTube videos with me all day long.