Sometimes it’s what you least expect

In Paul’s birth story (two years ago!) I talked about how I originally thought “ride the wave of the contraction” was a really stupid labor coping mechanism. Like pretending I’m a surfer is going to help when I’m in LABOR. Can we not do better than that? But when you’re in that much pain, you’re willing to try just about anything. I remember thinking I can’t believe I’m actually trying this, but at least I’ll be able to tell everyone definitively it didn’t help at all.

Up to that point, I’d been trying to take my mind off the pain. It’s obviously not possible to completely ignore it, but I thought focusing on it would only make it worse. So I focused on anything and everything around me. I was pretty much employing the “focal point” method and…it didn’t work for me. It felt like I was arguing with my brain. One side is all “la, la, la, look at that monitor over there, let’s pretend it’s the most fascinating thing we’ve ever seen – really focus on it – and block out everything else.” Meanwhile, the other side is going “you IDIOT, there’s no way you can block THIS out, it hurts, it hurts, it huuuuuuuuuurts. Weren’t we supposed to have an epidural so we’d never hurt like this? WHERE’S THE EPIDURAL?” I got increasingly frustrated at my own brain for refusing to shut off the pain commentary. I mean, really, I KNEW it hurt. I did not need constant REMINDERS that it hurt.

I also tried shifting to every position imaginable to relieve the pain. I thought maybe if I just found the magic, juuuust right position, the pain wouldn’t be so relentless. I also thought maybe if everyone around me would just shut up I could, I don’t know, meditate or something.

When all that failed, I finally half-heartedly tried picturing the contraction as a wave. I didn’t think it would work better than anything else I tried. Instead of focusing on a focal point, I’d be picturing myself in the middle of the ocean. But I drew all the way into myself and it wasn’t so much surfing as it was floating down a lazy river. Actually, it was more like I was floating in space, as I wasn’t picturing anything around me except nothingness. I concentrated on making myself weightless. I gently went up and down, sort of like a slowed-down kiddie rollercoaster. Sounds weird, I know, but honestly it was lovely and I’m dying to feel that kind of deep relaxation again. Maybe I should try yoga.

How did you cope with labor? I should stock up on things to try in case I ever do this again:)

Comments

  1. With my son I eventually got an epidural, but it took a long time for the doctor to come (like 2 hours, which is an eternity in active labor) and didn’t work the first couple of times. So I had plenty of pain, and even though I didn’t use the “ride the wave” terminology, that’s probably what I was doing. I didn’t try to ignore it but instead tried to breathe slowly through it. I thought of it more like treading through deep water, if that makes sense. But I also wanted everyone in the room to just be quiet and rub my back!