I already announced this on Facebook the other day and would’ve here as well, but I’ve gotten lazy.
Wednesday morning I had my 37 week check-up. My weight was good (36 pounds gained), my blood pressure was good (110/75), even my pee was good (no sugar and very little protein)! The doctor asked about contractions, and I assured her that ever since she put me on work-restriction and told me to slow down that I went from having a very irritated uterus pumping out 30+ contractions per day (just during waking hours), to around 15 or 18 per day. Also mentioned that while I had a lot less of the Braxton-Hicks type contractions, I was getting a few more of the painful ones…usually radiating up my back to my shoulder-blades, but even those were few and far-between. I reminded her that last time we chatted three weeks ago, Justin was tentatively going to Alaska, and now he was actually there and that in itself ramped up my activity levels at home since it was only me and the kids. She raised an eyebrow at me, asked when he was coming home, double-checked my chart, and said, “alright, lets check on this little guy”.
She poked and prodded him, got a good grip on him, declared him to be still head-down (anyone else think it’s kinda cool when the doctor can grip the baby’s head from the outside?), listened to his heart, and then did my cervical check.
Wow! I had forgotten how uncomfortable that can be!
As I gripped the sides of the table, squinting and wishing I had paid attention to how big her hands were, I saw her eyes widen, which got my attention. She asked “are you sure you’re not contracting?” I usually did not get that kind of response from my cervical checks since I was “almost 1cm” when I was induced at 41 weeks with Gavin, and “2-3cm” at the hospital to induce Cooper at 39 weeks. I grasped my belly, which had stiffened slightly in response to the medical procedure, answered “a little…but it’s stopping now, even”.
The doctor looked away from my questioning gaze quickly, and asked “when is your husband due back?” I told her “May 6th. You’re going to give me bad news, aren’t you?” She answered, “yeah, he’s gonna wanna come back sooner or risk missing the birth. You’re 4-5cm dilated.”
I was so floored that I’m pretty sure I called her a liar. I’ve never been that far without a pitocin drip, had already gotten my epidural, and had been in a considerable amount of pain just prior to seeing my best friend, the anesthesiologist. I mean, I know the pitocin ups the intensity of the contractions and helps you actually have “real” contractions, but 99% of the ones I had been having up to this point usually just slowed me down to a shuffle while walking, or after a long day, just flat-out wore me out like I had been exercising. But very little pain. In fact, the 20-30 min round ligament pain I would get (dr. said it was like a charley horse), was excruciating and would bring me to tears, but those didn’t do anything and I had never had any contractions thus far that garnered more than a whiney “owwwww”
The doctor let me know that she had a few patients that walked around that far dilated for a good week before having the baby, but most of her patients usually had the baby within a few days. She offered me a few options: go back home and wait for Justin to arrive, hoping he makes it in-time with the 20-or-so hours it takes to travel back from Kotzebue; or go ahead and get induced now, and I could have the baby probably by dinner-time. I shook my head and said, “my emergency birth coaches are both working…I don’t want to be THAT by myself!” So we agreed I would go home and try to stay off my feet as much as humanly possible with two small children that insist on eating.
So I emailed, then left a voicemail, and finally texted Justin in an attempt to reach him so that he could get his flights changed or take a dog-sled or something to get back right away. Then, because I and everyone else, was convinced I’d have a good 8 or 9-pounder at around 39 weeks and only had size-2 diapers, I ran to the nearest store and bought some Newborn diapers (supposedly he’s around 6-1/2 pounds), picked up some nursettes in case I need to supplement, grabbed a few other odds and ends and then came home to sit on my butt working and alerting my co-workers, friends, and family about the start of Baby Watch.
After resting in front of the laptop for a while, I slowly started gathering items I’d need for my bag, and a bag for the boys. I picked up the kids, we had frozen waffles for dinner (don’t worry, I toasted them first…heh heh…oh…I’m the only one that thought that was funny. ahem), and I got them to bed early. At one of my bathroom breaks I noticed that I had lost my mucus plug (I know it’s natural and a part of life and stuff, but still…ewwww). So I folded some laundry (while sitting), read a little and went to bed.
Thursday was quiet, partly because I had parked myself in front my my work laptop, and just tried to remain calm and hydrated. As the day progressed, however, I just kept feeling worse and worse. So I grabbed the infant car seat and the bottles from the basement, double-checked the bags I had packed, texted Justin that I was really feeling ill, that I seemed to be leaking some fluid (possibly amniotic?) and went to bed early with a Neat Sheet and a beach towel underneath me.
At 3am I really started to feel sick. I was a little hungry, thirsty, but still nauseous. Went to the bathroom and realized I was still leaking some sort of fluid, and I was contracting every 15 minutes, with a new symptom: menstrual-like cramps in my back and lower abdomen. I drank some water and layed there trying to relax and sleep, but the contractions (still not very painful) and the cramping was making it difficult to doze…plus, I was keeping track of them on an app on my phone since I was too tired to mentally note how far apart they were. Finally around 5:30am I had had enough and got up, got dressed, and ate. I made the final additions to our bags, got the kids up early, brought their breakfasts to the daycare and child care facility and dropped them off a good hour earlier than usual. Then I made a few calls and went to the hospital while I still could drive myself. Figured since I had failed my GBS test, getting to the hospital now also afforded the doctor enough time (four hours!) to give me the antibiotic I need prior to delivery.
After three hours there, where I wasn’t any further dilated or effaced than I was Wednesday, had a negative amniotic fluid test, and had walked around the birthing center for an hour trying to see if that would restart the regular contractions I woke up with, or see if I’d dilate further, they finally said, “well, you aren’t contracting regularly enough yet, they aren’t increasing in intensity, and you’re not dilating further. Since you’re just 37 weeks now, we would rather send you home than give you pitocin or break your water since little boys are more likely to have breathing problems before 39 weeks.” And while it all made sense in my head and I was relieved that he’d be staying put at least long enough for Justin to get back into town (he was somewhere between Anchorage and his Seattle layover at that point), and I know full-well how much better and healthier the babies are the longer they stay, in my heart I was a little disappointed to not see his little face yet. I also felt bad that I had alerted a lot of folks that I was going in the hospital and now I was coming home…I had worried a lot of people for no reason, it seemed. So I let as many folks know as possible about the false alarm, picked up some lunch, and went home to rest before the kids and Justin arrived.