When I was young, I heard many traumatic birth delivery stories, both about natural birth and C-sections. Most notably, my mom spun tales that started with an insertion of a 10cm needle in her back, and ended with a dramatic flourish – she’d lift her shirt to reveal that long, angry vertical scar on her belly and her eyes would flash that warning of danger danger DANGER. She was always explicit, and terrifying, and why was that scar so flippin’ long?
She made me never want to consult anybody about it again. So, when I got pregnant six years ago, I thought, “Who needs a lamaze class anyways?”
What I’m about to tell you, my dear first-time mother, is what my mom never did. I got to experience this without any previews to get me ready. Yes, true believers: I’m going to let you in on the glorious and spectacular process of dilation.
Here I present you what I call the Five Stages of Dilation.
Stage 1: DENIAL
Mild discomfort starts to poke you where the sun don’t shine, as if you were having your period. Things are a little sore and tender, but it’s nothing to worry about. You get optimistic and hopeful, and even think your delivery will be pretty, even glorious. You know, like what childbirth might look like if the tampon commercial people were to film it. You consider the thought that it might not even hurt at all. Perhaps that mild discomfort is just your positioning. I’ll just adjust my legs over there. Or run through a meadow, Julie Andrews-style. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Stage 2. ANGER
You’re lucky if you even finish the sentence. Contractions spike into a whole new motherfucker of intensity level. You aren’t – can’t be — prepared for this. Like when you eat so much, and so many different types of food, that it’s all going rotten in your intestines. You want to scratch the wall, your breath is shallow and you can’t wait to shit it all out, because a pain a hundred times worse than food poisoning creeps out and around you. It’s a migraine in your gut, all-powerful, all-consuming. One pain to rule them all. Frickin’ ouch, mother fucker.
To aggravate matters, after hours of begging, pleading, swearing and sweating, you’re told you’re only dilated about one centimetre. Nine more to go, sweet cheeks, but hold in there. You’ve never felt more desire to punch someone more than in this moment. Wait, did I say punch? I meant to say rip the beating heart out of the chest of an unsuspecting, innocent human being. You croak out, “Honey, could you come here a minute?”
Stage 3. BARGANING
You start questioning the integrity of the measurements. They’re subjective, even lazy. They’ve gotta be. C’mon! How can two fingers put together know that you are barely one centimetre dilated? You demand a re-count. Those fingers are huge! They’ve gotta be five or six centimetres, at least. Get a damned protractor up there. A tape measure, something. The ripening pain in your abdomen makes you think that a fallopian tube just exploded. “I know I said I didn’t want drugs until the last possible minute. But yeah, I want ‘em. Gimme.”
Hopefully you are in better luck, unlike me. My midwife, she said I should wait until at least four centimetres. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T HAVE DRUGS YET?”
Demand a recount.
Stage 4. DEPRESSION
You’re not progressing as your delusional self thought it would happen. The pain keeps increasing, as if someone is reaching inside your abdomen through your vagina, trying to detach your uterus with rusty, jailhouse-sharpened spoons. Repeatedly. Every four minutes.
By now, you feel there’s nothing you can do, other than… wait. Squeezing your eyes might help. Those massages, that breathing pattern, those pressure points, are your only help.
Stage 5. ACCEPTANCE
You realize you’ve managed to make it for close to 12 hours under all that shitting-fallopian-explosion-uterus-extraction pain. You don’t know if your body has given up or gone numb.
You know help will come, you will only need to stay focused until that happens. Because it HAS to happen. It HAS to happen.
Months from now, you’ll hear stories about yourself. Stories that you have a starring role in. Stories that are vaguely familiar, but you don’t. Remember. Doing that.
Like when you release your husband’s ears and order him, on pain of death, to fetch the epidural guy.
Anything else worth sharing about dilation with those first-timers?
Note: I submitted this post to ScaryMommy because let’s face it, this is something scary to be used as contraceptive.