Transition is a stage of labor that is characterized by emotional volatility including anger.  It is the stage between the “passive” phase of allowing the cervix to dilate and the “active” phase of pushing the baby out.

Over two decades ago I was a childbirth educatorpregnant and a doula.  During this time I also gave birth to my daughter.  After a couple days of labor and using traditional methods to stimulate labor (walking, castor oil, etc) it was determined that I was “failing to progress” and I decided that moving to the hospital for an oxytocin drip was in order.

Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that stimulates uterine contractions.  It is responsible for menstrual cramps, nipple sensitivity, and the “bang” in orgasm.  When administered by IV it can induce strong, demanding, and uncomfortable contractions.  Pregnant women that take this route to induce a labor find the contractions come back-to-back, are strong, and frequently unbearable.

My reaction?  I went to sleep.  Apparently I went to the hospital to get a good nap after a couple days of slow and uneven labor.

A strong contraction woke me up from my slumber.  I was confused and angry.  I demanded the doctor shut off the drip. I was impatient while she considered my order.  (Of course I could have just flipped the switch off myself, but somehow it seemed that only the doctor had the authority.)  I was very irritable.  I felt someone had snuck in and turned up the oxytocin drip way up while I slept.

Another contraction was upon me and I jumped out of the bed and headed the three feet to the in-room toilet.  Although my last cervical check had me only 70% dilated, with the next contraction I began pushing propelled by my anger.  I was hoping no one would notice, since I had not been given permission to push yet.

It is interesting to be knowledgeable enough to suspect I was in transition and also be completely swept away by the disorientation of the transition stage of labor.  The somewhat predictable emotional reaction that women have during transition (which lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half) is intriguing.

This last week or so I have been experiencing a great deal of anger and general hostility arising.  I could not put my finger on what the source was when the idea of transition popped into my mind.  It has been my experience that emotionally uncomfortable periods are frequently followed by a lighter and more pleasant emotional climate that feels like a breakthrough.  I had thought that the uncomfortableness was simply stuff arising to be released.  When the releasing was done, I was left in a clearer space.

Perhaps that is what is occurring in transition also, or maybe my previous interpretation of the discomfort was inaccurate.  Could it be that just the change process itself leads to emotional funkiness?  Maybe I am not releasing previously held anger, but instead anger is simply arising do to the change process.

This insight suggests a different line of questioning:

  • What can I be to change with perfect ease?
  • What am I resisting letting go of that if I did let go of would allow me to create a completely different reality?
  • What do I know that I am denying that I know?
  • What can I choose today that will facilitate greater awareness?
  • What am I choosing that is keeping me trapped?


Freedom from fear?

I was reading a book off my shelf this morning while I sat with ice packs on my back. I came upon this quote,
Bill Wilson

The achievement of freedom from fear is a lifetime undertaking, one that can never be wholly completed.

—Bill W.

It just made me shake my head.  I alternate from anger to sadness when I read stuff like that.  I know he is just expressing his limiting belief.  I also know that many people take him to be an authority and may not even question the truth in his statement.  While it may take some work to become free of fear, it is a task that can be completed – and in less time than one might expect.   Enlightenment, which the Buddha taught people how to reach is certainly obtainable in this lifetime. Enlightenment is freedom from fear.

However, what is most interesting to me is how do I get free of my anger and sadness.  Try as I may to root out the misbelief that causes those mental afflictions, I cannot quite get it.  Perhaps I am scared that what he is saying maybe be true?  Maybe, but I can not quite imagine that.  It seems that I may have a deeper fear that I cannot become free of fear as long as others believe it is not possible.  Do I think that everyone must “wake up” in order for me to “awaken”.

Well, no resolution this morning.  The best I’ve got is my awareness of my insanity.  Yes, another reaction that I don’t really like and have no control over.  (See post on reactions.)


Quiet Storm

Yesterday, my post from Saturday, The Coolest Place in Town, went “viral” within the library system.  Apparently, the Monday morning IT people at the library noticed my link to their website.  Forty-four people visited that page, mostly referred from what appears to be the Library intra-net.  I was pleased to think about the attention it was getting and also appreciated the experience of having a page “discovered”.  I enjoy examples of our interconnectedness.

There is also part of me that is anxious about the activity.  Forty-four visits and not one comment.  I’ve filled that empty space with worse case scenario thoughts.  Perhaps the powers that be didn’t like the information I shared.  Perhaps the people mentioned in the post have been fired!  If I go to the library on Wednesday, will the people look at me weird.

I don’t take my thoughts seriously, but the anxiety I feel is no different from someone slowly burning me with a cigarette.  It hurts. Even the thoughts are somewhat of a burden.  They are always there.  Even when I am conscious and in the moment, I can feel a part of my mind thinking doomsday thoughts.  I laugh to keep from crying.  This thing we call a mind seems completely unmanageable.

In Buddhism the process of just being with unpleasant things that arise from within is called purification.  The idea is that if when things come up we view them from a neutral standpoint and do not react to them that they will eventually wear out and be gone.   A Buddhist tenant is that anxiety is not limitless, but finite.  Each time I don’t react a part of my anxiety is permanently extinguished.

My practice is to be anxious when anxiety arises. I also have to be watchful not to act from anxiety.  When anxiety is arising I have a great tendency to want to control situations.  And my tendency to want to control situations makes me want to shout at people that do not perform like I want.  Instead, I take a deep breath and “be” with the part of me that is anxious.