Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Getting Real

Right now, I'm currently alternating between two panicked worries. 1) That I won't know when I'm in labor and 2) That I'll think false labor is real labor and won't be able to handle the pain of either one.

Let's talk about the first one. Every time I have this worry, I think it's ridiculous. This is supposedly the most painful event in a person's life. And I'm worried I'm just going to sleep through it? No - I don't think I'm going to be one of those women who's baby just gushes out while she's on the toilet or in the shower. I'm not that lucky. I fully expect to spend a good 9,000 hours in labor - at least 12 of them solid pushing. My body has done nothing to convince me that it's going to be kind to me and give me one of those births that leaves me saying, Would you look at that! A baby just fell out of my vagina. How effortless and convenient.

No, what I'm worried about is that I'm really good at ignoring pain. There have been a few nights where I've had really terrible cramping (don't worry, it turned out to just be poop) and I've thought...I wonder if I should be more concerned? I haven't had any trips to labor and delivery for pain or suspicious activity. I haven't even called the nurse line. Every single mom friend I've talked to said they did these things multiple times. Most of them went in at one point for Braxton Hicks contractions or for not feeling enough movement or for pain that turned out to be RLP, or for cramping that was just constipation. Whenever I wonder if something is wrong, I just ignore it instead. Maybe do some light Googling.

Maybe it's because I had pretty terrible menstrual cramps growing up. I tend to be able to ignore stomach pain pretty well. I once had a UTI that I let go long enough that it turned into a kidney infection. I let that go for a good 24 hours until I was in so much pain I was throwing up and barely lucid. When I finally got checked by a doctor, they couldn't believe I had driven myself and was still walking. After passing a few kidney stones, part of me thinks that pushing out a baby is going to be easy. According to a pain-rating chart I saw recently, most women do put kidney infections/stones higher on the pain scale than even natural child birth.

I'm not worried I'm going to "miss" labor and end up delivering at home, but I am worried I'm not going to know if something is wrong soon enough to do something about it. I'm worried that I should be better at knowing my body and not ignoring when things are painful. I'm worried that I'm going to be too stubborn about not wanting to get to the hospital too early that I get there too late and it negatively affects my baby.

Which leads me to the second point. My goal is to not go to the hospital until I'm around 5-7 cm dilated. I want to labor at home before that, so that I'm comfortable, able to eat, and manage pain in my own way. When I'm in pain, I like to be left alone and deal with it (ignore it)- see kidney infection story above. I'm afraid that in a hospital, I'm not going to get that option.

I'm afraid that labor's going to start, I'm going to wait it out a few hours and finally think I'm in so much pain I must be close to transition. So I'll pack up and go to the hospital--and find out I haven't even started dilating. Or I'm 1-2cm. That my pain tolerance isn't even close to what I thought it was. They'll send me home and I'll spend the next 8,500 hours in absolute agony before my body even starts laboring for real.

So - how do you balance these two things? How do you "manage" early labor on your own and know the exact right time to go to the hospital? How will I know if something's wrong if everything is so painful anyway? I get waiting for contractions 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour - but how do I know my body isn't just going to stall at some point during those, or after, or once I get to the hospital? Do most people just not worry about this sort of thing and trust their "mother's intuition?" Because I sure don't.


  1. I remembering that I worried so much and kept asking the doctor how I would know I was in labor and he kept telling me that I would know and it would be different than the things I was experiencing up until that point. The morning I went into labor with the girls it was different and I knew I was in real labor.

    Good luck and you will do great regardless. After seeing your baby, it really does make the whole experience worth it in every sense.

  2. I really did just know with both my kids. I'm sorry that's a crappy answer--I remember getting that answer and having zero faith in it. With my daughter it was sudden and it woke me up out of a deep sleep. With my son, I had contractions for days, and on the third day of it, I had a feeling that labor would start for real by the end of the day. I wish I could describe the feeling. It was just that I was having fewer long breaks in between bouts of contractions and they were more like every 10-15 minutes rather than every 20-30. I started timing them. My husband and I took the day off to relax and eat sushi.

    As far as when to go in, I planned to do the same, but with my daughter, my water broke almost immediately and I had to go in earlier. With my son, as I said, I'd already been waiting days, so when they got intense, we went in. By intense, I mean we were out at a late lunch (the aforementioned sushi) and they were getting painful enough that I didn't feel like being in public anymore. I've heard other people say, "Go in when you can't smile in the picture you take on your way out the door." I definitely worried about when to go in, but unfortunately, all you have is "mother's intuition". A great way to manage early labor is basically to stall. Do things that need to get done, take a shower or a bath especially, eat something light. Try to keep your mind occupied and move around gently. We went for a walk in a park and DH took pregnancy photos. My OB said she and her husband would go for a walk around the block. There will be a time when the contractions will not allow your mind to be distracted, and then you will go in. Chances are, you'll decide to go in some time before that. You don't know whether you'll stall or not; that one's just a gamble. But remember, you do get to say no if you do stall and they want to put you right on Pitocin or do something else similar.

    As far as the pain, I also have terrible cramping pain--it's loosely associated with menstruation, but either way, in retrospect, it's not unlike contractions. I think that helped me deal with my contraction pain. After all, that hurt just as bad as at least the first part of labor pains, and labor lasted longer, but there was actually a purpose! So I think that made it easier for me. Not that it was easy, necessarily, but it was good.

    1. Good info - thanks, emily! I have a friend with pretty bad IBS who reassured me that really bad cramps (like mine) are really similar to labor contractions, at least early on. She actually didn't think labor was that bad. Her words: I've taken shits that hurt waaaay more than pushing out a baby.

  3. I've never really had menstrual cramps (I know, you hate me) and I haven't really had much Braxton Hicks either, so I'm on the other side of this worry. As in, I'm wondering how in hell I'm going to handle labour when I've never felt anything like it! Copious amounts of drugs is my plan. :) Our hospital gave us a handy-dandy flow chart to use to determine when we have to go it. Part of me wonders if it will really be that easy to follow, or if we'll still have questions. Oh and by the way, I haven't called my OB or clinic for a single thing either this whole pregnancy. I've met my OB all of three times. So you're not alone there.

    1. Ooh a flow chart sounds fancy! I have just a sheet to time contractions on, and then when they get so close together for so long, you go in. But what happens if my body doesn't follow the pattern...cuz you know, it's me. And my body likes to do it's own thing.

      Good to know I'm not the only one that doesn't call or go in, since all my friends have. And they're in the "you'll just know" camp - um...no. You didn't "just know" you went in for everything and just got lucky one time.

  4. Yikes, just thinking about the real logistics of all of this is scarey!