Labor or Not…

During the last month of my pregnancy, I had a ridiculous amount of doctor’s appointments. My OB needed to see me weekly. So did Maternal Fetal Med for Non Stress Test monitoring. Cardio still needed one more echo before birth. And my Neurologist needed to meet with me so we could plan how to tackle my MS post pregnancy. My calendar had something on it every day!

One of these routine appointments was on January 27th. Dr. Schemmer, our Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, officially scheduled us with the U of U for induction on February 16th.  Jason and I immediately freaked out because it was so soon! It was still three weeks out but having an official date made it feel so much sooner. For the rest of the night we were giggly and babbling away about how close it was.

The next day I had another routine appointment, this time at Valley with Dr. Drewes. I was at 34 weeks at this point and Dr. Schemmer had asked me to get some tests done that normally weren’t done until week 35 just so we could get the results up to the U quicker. One of those tests was to check to see if I was dilated. Well…surprise, surprise. I was already dilated to a four. A FOUR?! We were shocked. How did that happen?! We couldn’t believe it and once again a freak out ensued. Dr. Drewes let us know that he personally didn’t believe I would make it to the 16th. I jokingly said I just needed to make it over the weekend to be in February (my sister got the girls birthstone gems for Grandma’s necklace and she gambled they’d come in February)  and Dr. Drewes kind of thoughtfully nodded his head and in all seriousness said “I think you might make it that long.” Oh man, only might? Cue Jason hyperventilating in the corner. Noting Jason’s panic, Dr. Drewes quickly feebly added “But who knows, some women hang out at a four for weeks, maybe you’ll be one of those…” The rest of the appointment mainly focused on game plans for getting me to the right hospital in time.

How would I know if I was really, truly in labor? The U is about an hour to an hour and a half drive. I wouldn’t want to wait too long and risk not getting there in time but I also couldn’t afford to race up to the U for every false alarm. Since this was my first pregnancy, the odds were that I’d be in labor for hours and would have plenty of time to get to SLC but what if it progressed faster? Keep in mind, I had never once been able to distinguish a contraction, either Braxton Hicks or any real ones. Even when I was hooked up to a monitor and it showed I was having a contraction, I couldn’t tell! Sure I had lower back pain that felt like cramps but it was pretty consistent  lasting at least 20 minutes at a time, never coming and going or accompanied by tightening and loosening of my stomach or anything like a contraction should feel like. And of course, the pain I was feeling wasn’t even showing up on the monitor so the doctors attributed it to the fact that I had a giant watermelon straining my back muscles. Anyway, since I wasn’t sure when I was having contractions it was terrifying to me when I was told to base my departure to the hospital off of contractions. Dr. Drewes wanted me to go to the U if they were 5-10 minutes apart and/or hard to breathe through but not so bad that I couldn’t breathe in between contractions. If they were 3-6 minutes apart or I was huffing and puffing without a break in between, I was to go to UVRMC. Worst case scenario, I could deliver there and Ella could be life flighted. No one was a fan of this scenario because splitting up the family would make things much more difficult for us. If I wasn’t sure if I was in labor or not, I was told to go to UVRMC and they could to see. And finally, if my water broke I was to go to the U still because I should have plenty of time to get up there.

We went home in a bit of a daze. We hadn’t quite wrapped our minds around the three week wait and now being told that our doctor didn’t think we’d make it through the weekend? My oh my. We knew we were ready as far as having to make an immediate trip to the hospital. Bags had been packed and car seats had been installed for a while at this point. But mentally, were we ready for this? No…

The next day I started having new symptoms. Maybe I only noticed them because I was on high alert after the day before, but they were new all the same. I did not feel like the change warranted a visit to the hospital but I was extremely emotional and upset because I just felt like I wouldn’t know when I was in labor and I was sick of people assuring me that I would “just know.” Not everyone knows when they’re in labor! It’s rare, but there are cases when women show up at labor and delivery because something feels a little off and then it turns out they’re dilated to an 8 or 9 and what they thought was a little extra urine was actually their water breaking. It happens! And not ever woman’s water breaks with labor either. The movies lie! In reality, only about 17% do. I was convinced I would not have that sure fire sign that I was in real labor. If I know one thing about my body it’s that it does not like to be normal and loves being in the weird 1%.

I told Jason and my nurse sister my concerns and frustrations and they both were immediately more concerned about the present situation than I was. At Jason’s insistence we went to Labor and Delivery. As luck would have it, Dr. Drewes was on call. He checked everything out and there was no change from the day before. (Oh but this time when the nurse checked my dilation she mentioned how she could feel Ella’s head distinctly because Ella was so low. Whoah. So weird and crazy!) I felt really stupid…I felt like I was turning into the girl who called wolf. The admitting nurses had made me feel like I was paranoid and that I was wasting their time and I was pretty embarrassed. It was the exact reason why I hadn’t wanted to go to the hospital. But Dr. Drewes assured me that I had done the right thing and to never feel silly about coming in. He told me he thought it was likely I would probably come in at least three or four more times before it was the real thing and that I would be completely justified to do so, what with Ella’s situation and the fact that I wasn’t feeling my contractions. He reiterated everything Jason and my sister had said to me earlier, but hearing it directly from the doctor made me feel better about coming in for a false alarm.