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.