"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Diary of my Prodromal Misery

Day 1: The dress rehearsal
After weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions, and a few days of good pre-labor signs, I was thrilled when I started having regular and painful contractions Wednesday afternoon. They were getting closer and closer and not letting up, so I began to suspect that they were the real thing. I cleaned the bathrooms, wiped down the kitchen counters, and called Mike to make sure he had left work on time. He fed the kids dinner while I worked on getting our bags packed, and I called both my mom and my sister, who headed down to our house. The contractions were 5 minutes apart by then, and getting stronger. When my sister arrived, Mike and I went for a walk around the block to get things moving, and by the time we got back my parents were there as well. We sat around and chatted into the evening, and I thought about how nice it was to spend early labor at home with loved ones, instead of being bored pacing the halls in the hospital. Kind of funny in retrospect! When the contractions were around 3 minutes apart - around 10 PM - we kissed everyone goodbye and headed for the hospital.

When we got to triage, they had me put on a gown and put me on a monitor. It showed a happy, healthy heartbeat, and strong contractions that were indeed coming regularly every 3 minutes. The nurse examined me after about 20 minutes, and I was shocked to hear that I was dilated to a 2... the same thing I'd been at my OB appt the day before. It wasn't a big deal at first though... I had a good pattern of contractions, and they were getting more and more painful. "Let's get you up and walking," the nurse said, "and see what happens." Off we go to walk the halls for an hour. The contractions intensified tenfold while I was walking, and I was CERTAIN that I was in full-blown labor. I'd never felt anything like that when I wasn't in labor. After an hour it was back to the triage room, back on the monitor.... and after another disappointing internal told us I was still only at a TWO, back to walking for *another* hour. This.time I wasn't so cheery, or optimistic. Despite the contractions that were still getting more and more painful, for some reason I wasn't progressing. I was exhausted by then, and grumpy, and my legs were killing me (This is what happens when you go an entire 9 month pregnancy without exercising!) Back at our little triage room, I was happy to hear that the last hour of walking had finally yielded some progression - I was a whopping 3 centimeters. It was 2 AM by this time, and I was ready to get on with the show. They don't considered it full-blown labor until you reach a 4 though, so I was sentenced to another hour of walking before they decided whether or not to admit me. That last go-around was honestly a blur. We passed lots of other laboring moms, heard a few crying newborns, and eavesdropped on many a gossipfest at the nurses' stations. One more time on the monitor, and one more exam. The nurse conferred with the doctor then, and came back with the news I'd been dreading but didn't really think I'd hear. "We're going to send you home." I just wasn't progressing. We got home at 3:30 and went to bed, disappointed and exhausted. At first the contractions kept me up, but they eventually died down. I passed out and woke up at 7:00.

Day 2:
I wasn't a fun person to be around on Valentine's Day. I thought I'd be given a gift of a new baby... instead I was still very pregnant, very sleep deprived (both from the night before and 2 previous nights of gall bladder attacks) very sore, and very frustrated. The contractions had picked up again once I got up, but were going nowhere. At times they were 5 minutes apart again, and at others they were spaced out to half an hour. I napped off and on, which I really needed; but it only served to depress me since the contractions tapered off every time I laid down. My sister had gone home, and my mom had gone to work. Mike and dad stayed with me, just in case, and kept the boys entertained. I wallowed in a funk for the vast majority of the day, watched Survivor and went to bed near tears.

Day 3:
I finally woke up in better spirits, despite the fact that I still had no baby. I'd needed the rest. Everyone returned to work, and I was given instructions not to be afraid to call. I kept myself busy with the boys, and paid the bills. I called Mike to come home at 1:00, when my contractions were once again coming one on top of the other. They continued all afternoon and evening. We got takeout for dinner, which made me feel almost instantly sick to my stomach, and the contractions raged on. When I went to bed to watch a movie at 8, I was feeling hopeful once again. This time my contractions weren't slowing once I laid down. They continued on as I flopped from side to back to side again. I slept off and on until midnight, when I was awoken with a contraction that literally took my breath away. I was 2 minutes away from calling my sister and having her come back down to stay with the boys, but decided to give it a few more contractions. I came out to wait, and watch tv on the couch... and at some point they must have died down - again - because I woke up a few hours later and headed back to bed.

Day 4:
Fourth day of labor-strength contractions. Neither Mike or I wanted to spend the day sitting around just waiting for real labor to start, but we ended up doing just that. I was in no condition to go anywhere, either physically or mentally. I didn't even want to go outside for fear that a well-meaning neighbor would make a dreaded "No baby yet??" comment. Even an innocent question about how I was feeling would have sent me over the edge. Everything on my body hurt, my stomach was a wreck, and the contractions were still hard, strong, and coming every few minutes for much of the day. I watched a movie, played a couple of rounds of Don't Break the Ice with Everett, and caught up on a bunch of neglected emails. The contractions were close enough together at one point (AGAIN) that I returned to my restless mode of frantic cleaning, and made sure the bathrooms were clean, the last load of laundry was done, and the living room was vaccuumed. Ironically, instead of making them pick up, the activity actually slowed them down this time, and I went to bed another night sans baby. I think I started to go a little bit crazy from the stress and lack of sleep. I woke up in the middle night having had a strange doctor dream, and couldn't go back to sleep until I'd felt both a contraction and good movement from the baby. I eventually felt both, and slept fitfully for another couple of hours.

Days 5 & 6:
See days 1 through 4. Contractions getting stronger, more painful, lasting for several hours, and keeping me up all night.... and still petering out eventually. Swept and mopped the floor, made cupcakes, watched lots of TV, took lots of walks and lots of naps. Read something that made me feel a little more hopeful:

"Prodromal labor is usually managable and it does not require the same attention that active labor requires. You could still go about your day, but you are really encouraged to rest up for the big event. Think of it this way. **The more work your body does now, the less work it will have to do in active labor**



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