Once you realize dilation isn't an accurate measure of your stage of labor, you learn to depend on your emotional signposts as your guide through labor:
Emotional Signpost 1: Excitement
August 7, 2:15am -- I woke up with contractions 2.5 minutes apart and I was THRILLED!!! To say my emotional signpost was "excited" does not come close to summing up my emotions. I was finally in labor 9 days past my estimated due date, my contractions were already very close together and I would be meeting my baby girl soon. Yeah. I was excited. I called my midwife and updated her on the progress, sat on my exercise ball and watch the first half of a movie on Hulu. Taylor got out of bed and began preparing the birth tub. At this point, I realized I was highly regretful that no one was there to photo-document our big day so I decided to be photographer......and exactly one picture later, it was obvious to me that I had entered the next stage of labor.
Emotional Signpost 2: Seriousness
Time is a blur at this point but I remember feeling so thankful for the million birth stories I read during pregnancy and thinking how much I loved this stage of labor but how awful it would be if I didn't know what was happening to my body. Between contractions, I paced our little house thankful to be home and not in a sterile hospital environment. During contractions, I faced a corner next to Liza's bedroom door, swayed my hips, breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth and visualized my baby girl moving lower and lower. I could feel the contractions becoming more intense and I knew transition was nearing. I was scared of the unknown but I trusted my body to safely bring our baby earthside.
Emotional Signpost 3: Self-Doubt
I remember standing in our dining room making a very low tone and telling myself that transition was here. Immediately, I threw up in a bowl my midwife had near and asked if it was okay for me to get in the tub. My body was tense and I couldn't relax. My mind was reminding me that I knew transition would be hard and I must not submit to the pain. It was bad. I could not relax. I could not breathe. I could think perfectly clear thoughts but my logical brain could not convince my emotional brain to calm down. We moved from the tub in the living room to our bed. There, I began to focus and remembered the task on hand was to push a baby out. And, exactly 5 hours from my first contraction, Elizabeth Ophelia was born on her parents' bed.
Did you experience these emotional signposts during labor?