Monday, February 21, 2011

12: The Final Phase of Birthing a Grad Degree

In the thick of it. Down in the trenches. Knee deep.

Whatever name you may have for it, we’ve found ourselves here. It has been precisely eleven weeks since I last took tally of where we were on our journey towards that glorious day in May. You’ll know it has arrived because you’ll see me dancing in the aisles of that stadium as my dear husband walks across the stage to receive his hard earn diploma. 

Last time I stopped long enough to think about it we were nearing the halfway point of the year with 23 weeks left until graduation day. Now, with only 12 weeks to go, we find ourselves knee deep in the final semester of this four-year journey that has seen us through highs and lows, excitement and grief.

Over the last four years, among other things, we’ve:

seen our family grow by one

received Celiac Disease diagnosis for two

endured Shingles, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, debilitating Eczema and Asthma

watched our babies turn into school children

welcomed backyard chickens

adopted a full-on gluten-free dairy-free lifestyle

witnessed countless doula babies breath their first breath

attended the marriage of my closest sibling

traded in our beloved Subaru for a vehicle with third row seating (families of five, bring it)

and lost my beloved grandmother.

First things first, I must say that our present situation really isn’t all that bad. There are worse things than sending a husband through grad school while trying to manage a growing family. But from where I stand it feels… hard, impossible, never ending.

Somewhere around the 20-week mark I was chatting with a student in my childbirth class one night as we were folding up the backjack chairs. He recalled his days in grad school (without kids in the picture) and how it started to feel exponentially difficult towards the end.

The pressures of work plus school plus the prospect of the future made him equate this phase of his life to the Transition Phase in labor. (We did just conclude a childbirth class, mind you, where we talk about things like uterine contractions, the fundus, vaginas, the Ferguson reflex, meconium and the like.)

It’s true. The second to last semester of school was feeling so similar to the transition phase of labor when the mother is close to being fully dilated and the contractions amp up in frequency and intensity and a physiological fear overtakes the body. I can’t do this anymore. Can’t we just stop this nonsense and try again tomorrow? Whose idea was this anyway? I give up.

And now that we’re so close to the very end of this seemingly endless journey, I’m starting to get a similar feeling to when we were in the Pushing Phase of labor. Even though the end is so close you can almost taste it, certain sentiments rise up that can be hard to reckon with. Push, push, push. Get ‘er done. I don’t care anymore, I just want to be finished. Are we making any progress anyways? It doesn’t feel like this is working. Am I going to feel like this forever? Just GET IT OUT.

If I wasn’t a childbirth educator, I might be duped into believing that this phase of life might never end. That it will feel like this forever. That we will always be in the labor pains of birthing something new and grand.

But I am a childbirth educator. And I know for certain that Second Stage Labor does not last forever. That the grad school baby will come out, and relatively soon, at that.  That each and every study session that is behind us is another step closer to the end. That once the baby is out, everything will change in an instant.

And... that I will one day see my husband again for more than a two hour time block every few days. 

That one day we will enjoy so much family time together that we’ll get sick of looking at one another. 

That one day we will gaze into each others eyes and there will be a certain clarity there that only comes from getting enough sleep each night. 

Twelve weeks to go my friends. Twelve weeks to go. I trust it will be over in a blink.


In times like these, this song makes me feel really happy! And makes me laugh! And makes me want to dance!

Hair - I Got Life


  1. That's awesome. I can relate. I did end. And getting used to having the husband around has taken me almost a whole year, and some days I wish I was on my own again, but only some.....:)
    Doing P90X so when you birth your husband maybe I'll birth my new body and leaving Boulder. Man could we be more collectively dramatic and chaotic?

  2. I meant it did end not me!!!! ha ha.

  3. Collective chaos, girlfriend. Just the way I like it!


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