Prodromal… I feel like that word mocks me.
I spent the majority of New Years Eve thinking I was in labor. It finally ended at around 2 or 3 am New Years day with a shot of vodka (with expressed consent from my midwife) and no baby.
From what I’ve read online, prodromal labor is often thought to be synonymous with pre-labor or Braxton Hicks contractions. This isn’t always necessarily true. What I experienced two days ago progressed and was painful. While I did spend a good part of the day in denial, in the end I truly thought I was in labor. I even felt an urge to push (though that may have been in my head, I’m not sure).
Contractions started at 10am and I mostly ignored them. I didn’t time them or anything of that sort, but they felt different. There was pain in my lower abdomen and rather than being an uncomfortable tightening like Braxton Hicks, they felt more like menstrual cramps. Possibly like a bad stomach ache. I thought possibly I just needed to use the restroom, so I tried that a few times with no relief. I also noticed a significant increase in urination. If even the tiniest bit was in my bladder, I needed to go immediately.
After around an hour and a half of contractions, I started to wonder. We went for a walk around the block to see if it would slow things down. They were coming regularly (though I still wasn’t timing), so we decided that we should run out to get some last minute things (read: hose and adapter for filling the birth pool) just in case this was really it. While we were out, I felt an intense urge to be at home. I wanted my nest. We called the midwife to say this might be it so she’d be forewarned and she said to call again when they were five minutes apart.
After eating lunch, I put Peanut down for her nap. Nursing made the contractions stronger, but they calmed once she unlatched. I started timing contractions on an app I downloaded so I could tell my husband about them since he wasn’t in the room and they were around 6 minutes apart. I tried to nap myself, but couldn’t, so I took a bath. It didn’t slow things, though I will admit it’s difficult to really relax when my tub is so pathetically small. By this point I had tried all five things to tell if I was in real labor according to The Bradley Method: drink, eat, take a walk, take a bath, nap (though I couldn’t nap through the contractions).
By 8PM, I was thinking we were having a baby that night. Things were progressing slower than I had anticipated, but they were getting stronger and closer together. I called my mother and had her come over to tend Peanut during bedtime and sleep and she arrived a while later with some food I asked her to grab at the store. They went to bed. We called the midwife when they were 5 minutes apart and she told us to call when we wanted her to come. I decided to rest for a while since I figured I wouldn’t have another chance any time soon. It took a long time, but I finally started falling asleep, only to be woken by an incredible antsy feeling like I needed to get up and move.
I tried the birth pool, which we had filled earlier, but it was too hot. I decided to go downstairs and watch Arrested Development while bouncing on the birth ball. By this point the contractions were around 2-3 minutes apart. After a little while I started feeling incredibly annoyed by the show, so we headed back upstairs. I tried to rest again, but to no avail. I started feeling incredibly shaky and wanted to get in the pool again. This time it was very nice. My husband determined that I was in transition and that we needed to get the midwife to our house.
She arrived and set up her supplies. My husband was in the pool with me helping me through contractions and I started feeling an urge to push. I even pushed for a little while before requesting the midwife check my cervix. When she did, I was still at the exact same dilation as I was five days earlier.
She explained to me that this sometimes happens with prodromal labor. These weren’t Braxton Hicks, but rather something in between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions. In hindsight, I can see that they should have been more intense. They were progressing, but I guess I just assumed I was having an easier-than-normal labor. They were painful, but nothing in comparison to my last labor, but I had decided that was because this baby is in the correct position. It was progressing slowly, but I figured that progression that doesn’t stop with change in activity is still progression.
I felt devastated that I wasn’t meeting Twig that night. I felt humiliated that I had thought it was the real thing. I felt sorry that I dragged the midwife out of bed in the middle of the night. While my husband and the midwife cleaned up the supplies and drained the birth pool, I sat in the bathroom and cried. I felt so silly. Like the woman that rushes to the hospital at the first twinge in her abdomen.
The midwife told me to take a shot of vodka (which she said was essentially what they’d give you in a hospital to stop contractions) and get a good night rest. She hugged me and told me over and over how she had the exact same thing happen with two of her babies. Throughout all of this the contractions continued, which felt like my body was betraying me somehow. How could it still continue when I knew it was fake?
I fell into a deep sleep that night and didn’t wake until 11am the next day. Since I had written her a note before going to bed, my mother knew what was going on and took Peanut to her house. It felt so good to hug my Peanut when my mom brought her back shortly after I woke. I felt teary-eyed all morning (or I suppose afternoon given the time I woke) and slept with Peanut for 2.5 hours during her nap, which made me feel much better. I still feel upset about the whole incident and how it made me feel, but I’m sure that will lessen even more once the baby really does come. I feel foolish even sharing the story here, but when I went searching for information on prodromal labor I felt like the internet was missing information on what I went through. So I want you to know that if you’ve gone through this, you’re not alone.
I am now 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. If I sit for too long, my ribs kill kill me (though according to all those pregnancy sites I should be getting some relief from that since the baby is low now, uh NOT). If I stand for too long my feet kill me. My tailbone hurts. I can’t sleep in because my ribs are killing me by the time that I wake up in the morning. I spend all night tossing and turning. My heartburn kills.
Nevertheless, I’m happy to have a little extra time. We’re getting some stuff done around the house that I know we won’t want to once the baby comes and that makes me happy. I’m also getting rid of all the small things on my pre-baby to do list. I’m certainly not doing anything to hurry this along if just to not go through that whole fiasco again.