I thought I was going to have my baby yesterday and I was crushed when I realized that wasn’t going to happen. At 2 am, I woke up with contractions that were painful enough to get my attention. I think I was actually waking up every 20-30 minutes for a couple hours before with them, but from 2 am on they were frequent enough that I couldn’t sleep and I started wondering, “Is this it?!” and I was hoping it was. A stark contrast to the nerves and, I’ll admit, full on fear I was experiencing in the last week or so. The contractions quickly went from every 12 minutes, to every 6-7 minutes, to every 2-4 minutes. I still wasn’t in that much pain. I could breathe through them and even talk through most. I knew that was not the norm for active labor, but having just read several birth stories, I also knew that everyone is different and some people said that labor didn’t feel like anything other than bad menstrual cramps and they were able to joke with their husbands in between contractions all the way through. I have always had bad cramps and these contractions just felt like the worst of them, so I thought just maybe. And the frequency of them, plus the fact that they were lasting 60-90 seconds and had done so for over an hour, made me think we might need to get to the hospital (I was keeping the 5-1-1 rule we learned at prenatal class in mind). We have this service here called HealthLink where you can call and speak to a nurse at any time to get some basic health advice. I find they air on the side of caution and more often than not advise you to see the doctor. Keep in mind I’ve only called twice now, but I expect this is the norm because they can only do so much over the phone and they would never want to advise someone against medical care when they might need it. Anyway, I called and the nurse told me that my contractions met the criteria for going to the hospital, even though there wasn’t much pain. Off we went, at about 5 am, into the very foggy morning. For once, the roads were almost empty (seems they never are regardless of the hour here). We made our way to Labor and Delivery and were put in triage so baby could have a non-stress test (NST) and I could have a cervical check.
Our little girl is often quite active, but she tends to be resting whenever we start an NST (we’ve done 2 now) and the nurses seem worried as they ask if she’s been moving ok. The first time they gave me juice and she turned into a ninja and this time the nurse shook my belly and either got what she wanted (I didn’t feel much movement) or took my word for it that she has been making at least the requisite 6 movements per 2 hours.
Then the nurse did a cervical check. This was my third because my curiosity got to me at my last prenatal and I hoped I’d handle it better than the first one I had. Checks 2 and 3 were both uncomfortable, but not nearly as painful or traumatizing as the first. At check 2, I was told my cervix is still high, but lower than it was, and I was a fingertip dilated. I did a google search and apparently that’s about .75 cm. In the hospital, I was measuring 1.5 cm and 50% effaced. Unfortunately this means nothing in terms of being able to predict when I’ll be in active labor or ready to deliver.
I was disappointed to find out I wasn’t anywhere near active labor, but not surprised. The lack of intense pain was too good to be true. So we were sent home and told to come back if I had much more painful contractions that followed the 5-1-1 rule of thumb. We tried to confirm that I was in fact in early labor. The nurse said likely, but it was possible that the contractions would stop.
We went back home and got there around 6:30. I was exhausted and I’m sure J was too, so I suggested we try to get some sleep, reserve our energy. Even though the contractions continued, I managed to fall asleep for a few hours. When we woke up, J and I decided to watch some movies to relax and wait, hoping the contractions would get stronger. We watched Knocked Up, which definitely made me laugh but when the baby was born, I sobbed because I was thinking about how we’d get to meet our little girl soon. I was so very excited!
As the day wore on, the intensity didn’t really increase. There were a handful of contractions that made me stop in my tracks, moan, and cry out, but they were in no way regular and several happen after I got up from sitting, which probably had something to do with round ligament pain. Eventually even the milder contractions became irregular. I was afraid to admit to myself and J that I think it was a false alarm, but as time wore on (over 12 hours now) I couldn’t really deny it anymore. I sobbed again, but this time it was out of disappointment. I was so upset that we weren’t going to get to meet her as soon as I had expected. J reminded me that we would get to meet her soon. I also felt bad that he had used up a vacation day essentially for nothing, so I felt like I had taken a day away from his time with Lyla once she’s born. I just felt like I had gotten people’s hopes up – mine, J’s, and our doula’s (she kept texting periodically to see how I was doing and if there was any progress, and I had woken her in the middle of the night for nothing) – and now I (my body) was letting us all down. I think my fatigue was adding to the disappointment. I broke into tears a few times until my mom called and I filled her in. I sobbed on the phone but afterward I felt so much better. I spent the rest of the evening having accepted the fact that it wasn’t happening and I slept through the night (with several trips to the bathroom of course) without contractions. Today feels like a normal, very pregnant day. So, we wait and hopefully the next time won’t be a false alarm and things will progress as they should.