Moving is Like Childbirth, and I Have a Book to Prove It

September 27, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Filed under:

I’ve given birth five times with no drugs, so I know a thing or two about pain. Packing for a move has got to be the emotional equivalent of giving birth. It HURTS. You go through the exact same stages as you do in labor.

Like this

(from Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg):

The First Emotional Signpost: Excitement

…contractions start off short and easy, with rest periods of five or possibly more minutes. You could have an hour of this or several hours….

You feel quite happy and excited; you have been waiting for this day for nine months and maybe longer. This is it at last, you feel with some elation. Of course, you may feel a tiny bit of stage fright too. You feel both eager and anxious.

Adjust the time span a bit and yup, that’s pretty much where I was two weeks ago.

The Second Emotional Signpost: Seriousness

…Excitement gives way to concentration…You work diligently because you do not want these contractions to get ahead of you.

You are working hard, and you will be for the next several hours or more…

The serious emotional signpost is total absorption in the work and the need to be undistracted. It is a do-not-disturb and get-to-work attitude.

Now we’re up to last week. Of course, experiencing a NEED to be undistracted doesn’t guarantee NO DISTRACTIONS, and really the idea of my ever doing anything without a zillion distractions is

(HA! The baby just woke up! Case in point! I was about to type the word laughable but I can’t because I am laughing too hard.)

(We’re back. And may I just interject that she could not possibly be sweeter? Distractions don’t get better than this.)

Anyway. What were we talking about? Oh right, second signpost, the get-to-work attitude. Check. That’s me armed with my Supply Basket: six rolls of tape! Fancy tape dispenser thingie that doesn’t work and causes much aggravation but by golly I will use it anyway because I paid for it! Notebook for logging boxes! Big fat Sharpie for writing on boxes! Regular pen for writing in notebook! Three Legos and a Polly Pocket shoe! Wait, how did those get in there?

The Third Emotional Signpost: Self-Doubt

Your uterus now shifts into high gear and speeds by the centimeters from seven to ten. You begin to wonder why you haven’t reached your destination yet. You wonder if you are going to reach it. Are you really as far along as you thought? You are nearing the end of first-stage labor.

Oh no. FIRST stage. No, seriously, we have got to be around fifteenth stage by now, right? Okay, okay, I know there are only three stages, and the third one is the big happy payoff at the end where you’re holding the baby (or standing in your new living room) and everything is messy and sweaty and you’re crying because you’re so relieved it’s over and isn’t she the sweetest little room you ever saw? Look at those big windows! Honey, she’s got your crown molding!

So fine, I’m still in first-stage labor. FINE. I’m NEARING THE END, right? The book SAYS so.

At this point you will be quite absorbed in yourself and your body so that you might not even notice, but your coach sees that you have become uncertain, indecisive. You don’t know quite what you want to do, and even when asked you cannot say or explain.

I think that’s where I am now, but I’m not sure.

At this point, if you are asked any question, the most common reply is, "I don’t know." You are not sure that you can do this, and may even say so aloud.

Aha! Yes! I did this! Last night! On the phone! I said it aloud! VERY aloud! I think I also said "I don’t know" a lot. Okay. YES! I’m ten centimeters! This is good! Right? I think it is. Oh, shoot, I don’t know.

Coaching the Self-Doubt Signpost

In the last emotional signpost, the laboring woman is uncertain; she doesn’t know what she wants to do. She experiences self-doubt. Although to you [the coach] she looks like she is doing a great job


and dealing beautifully with the contractions, she may not be sure about that at all.

(She totally isn’t. Sure about it, that is.)

She looks to you for support; she depends on you for confidence and reassurrance.

(And chocolate! Good move with the chocolate, coach.)

That’s it for the first stage. The second stage is the pushing (oh no not the pushing), which I guess is what happens when the moving truck comes. Or maybe it’s this weekend in the last days BEFORE the truck comes. I don’t know. I’m not sure. See? Textbook third emotional signpost! Quick, someone get me some ice chips! And where’s my backrub?

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Cheryl says:

    This was so funny!! I loved the comparison. And those legos and Polly Pocket parts can just show up anywhere. We moved 4 months ago and I remember what a great feeling it was waking up the first morning in our new house. We didn’t HAVE to do anything. The deadlines and stress were over. You’ll be there soon. Good luck with the pushing!

  2. Love2learn Mom says:

    Too funny Lissa! I really admire what you guys are doing – glad to hear the end is in sight. I have no desire to move again, whatsoever. That might be partly because the last time I moved, I was 39 weeks pregnant (though we only moved across town, you’d think that would have been enough to put me into labor, but Frank, rather mercifully came as late as most of his other siblings at 42 weeks). Anyway, praying for a safe and smooth move for you all.

  3. prov31wisemom says:

    Hilarious! What a wonderful analogy! I used that book with the delivery of both second and third, and I wish I would have had it for th first; however, since all three came out “natural”, I guess I did alright. My move from Oregon to Texas came out alright too, so I guess Bradley is the cure-all!=)

  4. Jennifer G. Miller says:

    Great analogy, Lissa! I’ll be your doula for verbal support. You can do it!

    I moved one year ago and although it was almost across the street, my husband would find me sitting in piles crying over some sentimental memory I came across. And doubts — oh my. Dh would come home every day and wonder if I was going to make the deadline. Because you know, whatever goes into a box by Mommy, must be taken out to inspect by the 2yo!

  5. Queen of Carrots says:

    All too true, except that the postpartum recovery time is more like for a c-section than for natural childbirth. In other words, it’s a pain both ways. 😉

  6. Theresa says:

    Hilarious, Lissa! I LOVE it!

  7. Karen E. says:

    What a great post!

    I just have to add that sometimes, being the one left behind hurts just as much … I’ve been *there* too many times!

  8. Mary M-O says:

    Oh Lissa, As I sit in my kitchen separating plastic containers from glass containers, I am right there with you. I’m probably in the 1st stages, which can’t be good, since I’m moving tomorrow. I think the hard contractions are about to begin….Do you think I could get an epidural for this?
    Your website is a great break from packing so nice to read.

  9. Mary Beth P. says:

    You can do it! (Let’s hope nothing gets “stuck”)

  10. Angela,Mother Crone says:

    To have such wit while in the midst of labor, I applaud you!

  11. Alice says:

    OK, now every time I think your writing just can’t get any better, it just gets better and better and better and better. This post had me laughing so hard I woke the baby–don’t feel bad though, it was worth it, well worth it.


    (Oh, but sorry your going through such a rough time–not sorry enough to want you to stop writing about it though! I can’t wait to hear about the pushing. : ) )

  12. Alice says:

    >>er, I meant to say “you’re going through” not “your going through.” You have me laughing so hard, I’m barely literate anymore. I’m surprised I didn’t type “can’t weight two here about the pushing.”