It's Saturday night and here I am writing my journal (which I usually don't do till Wednesday or Thursday). I wanted to get a jump on it for two reasons, 1.) There are things I want to say that I don't want to forget about and 2.) I could be headed to the hospital at any time and I want to make sure I say everything before I go.
This past week, since Wednesday, has been another roller coaster. This time it's my body that is going through so many changes. Reading about going into labor and learning about it in class is completely different from the experience of it. The doctors, nurses and books tell you what to look for and what the signs of labor are but when things are going on with your body it is so hard to figure out what is happening. Every time I go to the bathroom I look at the toilet paper for signs of my mucus plug or bloody show, hoping that something is there but not even knowing if I'd recognize it if it was there. There is also the whole contractions thing. How do I really know what they are if I've never felt them?
I know what Braxton Hicks contractions are but there is a whole other realm of real contractions and the feeling of the baby dropping. I heard about “dropping” or “lightening” as the baby moving into the birth canal giving mom and easier time of breathing and more frequent peeing. Well, I never had trouble breathing and I already have to pee every two hours, so I wasn't sure how I would know when the baby dropped. Believe me, you will know. It doesn't just happen all at once, it's a long, slow and uncomfortable process. For me it feels like really bad period cramps that radiate into my vagina with almost a burning feeling. There is also this pressure inside, on my cervix while it happens. Most of the dropping I've had happens in the evening so it's an interesting thing to feel and then in the morning look at my stomach and see that the big belly bump that is baby has moved down.
So not only have I been having the Braxton Hicks contractions and feeling the baby drop but the other night I had 4 REAL contractions. My first one happened as everyone was finishing dinner. I felt this pain that started low, like cramps, then radiated throughout my entire abdomen. It started as a mild pain and increased in intensity, then went away. At the table I suddenly got really hot and my face got flushed and I kind of zoned out of the conversation. My father-in-law noticed what was happening and asked if I was okay. I told him I was but I thought I had just had a contraction. He told me it was only “one of those Braxton Hicks contractions, false labor, not a REAL contraction”. I told him that it felt pretty real to me and maybe he should have some, then tell ME how “real” they are. He didn't say anything after that. Then Sean and I went out for a walk. While we were walking I had 3 more contractions, about 20 minutes apart, and nothing since then.
Today is Tuesday, I had my NST and OB appointment yesterday. It was quite a day. Our NST (non-stress test) was scheduled for 7:45 but didn't complete until 9:00. At the NST I was hooked up to a contraction monitor and a heart rate monitor for the baby so the doctor could get a good take on how many contractions there were and how the baby was dealing with them. During our test, the nurse had trouble getting consistent readings of the baby's heart rate and the monitor couldn't keep track of the baby so the doctor sent us over to the hospital for an ultrasound and an OCT after my exam. My exam did show that I was 1 cm dilated but the doctor said my cervix was still very long. So, we have made some progress over the last week.
Sean and I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 and were sent to triage to have the ultrasound and another NST. The ultrasound showed the same level of fluids as last week, so things are okay on that front. The NST results came back pretty good but the doctor on-call from our doctor's office still wanted to see how the OCT went. An OCT measures contractions and the baby's heart rate, like a NST does, but with the OCT the mother is given drugs (usually pitocin) to force contractions. I had to be admitted to Labor and Delivery for the OCT and the doctor in triage and the nurses told us not to expect to be discharged since I was past my due date and already being admitted for tests. They said the OCT would likely be used to diagnose whether or not we'd be having a c-section or have labor induced. Right now I'm at home so obviously we didn't have a c-section or an induction.
We were admitted to an L & D room around noon. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, contraction monitor and an IV. After a few minutes the nurse started the pitocin and we waited. Every half hour the nurse increased the pitocin levels and checked the monitor. After about 4 hours I was having enough contractions, 1 every minute or two, to get a good reading. The doctor was so pleased with the readings and the baby's heart rate that we were allowed to go home to wait for labor to start on its own.
I've been feeling pretty good since leaving the hospital. I had very mild, irregular contractions last night but was able to fall asleep easily and I slept great. This morning I lost my mucus plug and have been having mild and irregular contractions again. I wasn't sure I'd know what the mucus plug was but when I saw it, there was no doubt what it was. It's really just this huge glob of mucus, like a big sneeze from the worst cold you've ever had. I'm not expecting to go into hospital today but I think that we'll be having the baby sometime in the next few days. Sean and I have another appointment for a NST and an exam on Thursday, if the baby doesn't come on her own before then. For now, we just wait.