So….I guess we got to have a trial run of what labor and delivery will be like! First, I’m fine. Baby is fine. Baby is still inside and incubating. But we did have a little bit of a scare last week.
Wednesday evening last week I had some mild back pain that was different than previous back pain issues I’d have. Michael rubbed my low back a bit, I took half a muscle relaxer and went to bed. Seemed fine the next day. Went to work, left early for an appointment and was having some back aches again. It felt like mild period cramps.
I got home from my appointment and it wasn’t raining so I took Bella for a walk before our childbirth class. During the walk the cramps were starting to bother me. They felt just like menstrual cramps–achy, throbbing, waves of pain in my low back and now in my pelvic region (like where the ovaries would be). They would come and go. Yes, yes, I know. You’re reading this and if you’ve had kids you’re probably thinking “those are contractions!” But I didn’t know what they were and I wasn’t having any other signs of preterm labor.
We went out to dinner (slices of pizza) and then went to our childbirth class (more on that in a bit). I asked the teacher about the crampy feelings and she said that could be a sign of preterm labor and that I should call the L&D nurse line.
After class I called and described my symptoms and they said to come in right away. Kind of a freaky moment. My first thought was “it’s too early.” I was almost 33 weeks at this point. We were already at the hospital for our class so we went to Labor & Delivery.
They checked me in and hooked me up to this the fetal monitor. It looked like this:
The nurse was great and the doctor was great. They said the cramps could be a sign of a UTI so they tested for that (I’ve never had a UTI so I had no idea what it felt like if I had one).
It was hard not to feel a little panicked. I kept thinking “he’s only 4 pounds this week” and that freaked me out. Then I thought about how the nursery isn’t done, we haven’t had the baby shower yet, we don’t have any baby stuff we need, the car seat hasn’t been installed yet, I didn’t pack a hospital bag yet…The to-do list was too long for him to come early!
They monitored the baby’s heart rate for about 90 minutes. They said his heart rate was perfect. He was moving around a lot and towards the end of the exam he had the hiccups, which made the doctor laugh and made the heart rate sound weird.
I was having frequent but mild contractions according to the monitor.
They did an exam and said my cervix was complete closed and high, so no risk of labor starting. They also did some test of proteins that can predict whether or not I go in labor in the next week; that was also ok.
The doctor said it was probably an Irritable Uterus. Fun name, huh?
Irritable uterus (IU) is the name given to a uterus that contracts in a disorganised fashion during pregnancy. These contractions do not shorten or open the cervix, and therefore do not lead to labour. However, from anecdotal evidence we know that common triggers for the contractions include exercise, lifting heavy objects, having an orgasm, dehydration, stress, constipation and a full bladder.
Good news! Bad news? There doesn’t seem to be much information about this stuff and the doctor said they don’t really know what can cause it. It seems like anecdotal guesses at best: vigorous exercise, dehydration, stress, constipation, etc. So nothing really firm. Maybe I was dehydrated that day? I don’t know. I find it hard to believe a slow 1 mile walk was too “vigorous” for me.
The doctor said I didn’t need to stop exercising, but to just take it easy and see if these happen again and try and figure out if an activity lead to it. Like if I do the elliptical at the gym and the next day have these aches and cramps again, maybe the elliptical is not something I can do right now. Fair enough. I’m going to slow down a little bit and take it easier and see what my body does. The doctor did recommend continuing exercise because it can help alleviate the typical 3rd trimester aches and pains.
The next day I emailed my regular OB and she said:
It can be normal for the uterus to be “irritable” during the 3rd trimester. If the cramping comes back (which it will), please make sure to rest for about 10 minutes if you are being active by sitting or laying down, drink 2-3 glasses of water as dehydration can also cause irritability. If it continues, call and come in like you did last night.
I’m chugging water and taking it easy and hopefully this was a one-time thing until THE REAL one starts.
I guess the upside to all of this is that we now know what to expect on Labor Day. Even though we did the hospital tour and that helped A LOT with the mystery and unknown factor, actually going through the process last week did make me feel a little more relaxed about checking in, where to go, what will happen when you check in at Labor & Delivery, etc.
I did want to talk a little about the recent childbirth class we went to (that same night). We learned about different breathing techniques for labor and practiced a bunch in the class (which was kind of weird and awkward). The teacher had us do a little practice exercise with some ice. She had everyone in class take a handful of ice, hold it in our fist, for 1 minute. That SUCKED. It was supposed to simulate what a contraction is like and how long they last.
The minute was up and she had us switch hands, she turned the lights off and did a guided meditation where we were supposed to focus on our baby while holding the ice. Supposedly that should have alleviated or distracted us from the pain of holding a handful of ice. Didn’t work too well for me honestly.
Then she had the moms hold a handful of ice while the dads did something like rubbing our backs or shoulders. That made a difference for me. This time we were holding the ice for 90 seconds and it was a lot easier to tolerate. We switched and the dads did the same thing while we rubbed their shoulders, to give them a idea of how much of a difference it makes. It was a pretty good exercise, even if the ice sucked!
At the next class we learn about labor positions. And you better believe my hospital bag is now packed!!