Friday, February 1, 2013

Prodromal Labor and Three Days Past the "Expected" Date

So the last blog I wrote was last Friday. I spent our three days off continuing to have contractions on again and off again. Monday evening--a few hours before we were scheduled to do passdown with our Relief Houseparents and come back on duty in the cottage again--things began to change. The contractions were coming harder and closer together, I was so tired (which I remember being with Blueberry prior to labor starting), and I couldn't help but think we're going to do passdown and then turn around and hand the cottage straight back again! Well, I wasn't entirely wrong.

We made it through passdown. I went to bed. Woke up around 3:30am, Tuesday, still with constant contractions. Over the last few weeks, sleep would generally quiet down the contractions I was having, so this was different. I finally got up and moved to the couch to try to sleep more if I could. Well things kept going. I started timing. 10 minutes. 7 minutes. 5 minutes. 3 minutes. 3 minutes. 3 minutes. 5 minutes. 3 minutes. And these were long contractions too--at least a minute if not minute and a half to two minutes. I could still talk through most of them if not walk, so I figured we would be okay to at least get the girls up in the morning and get them off to school. But in my heart, this was it! Contractions getting closer and closer together, increasing in intensity...all the signs of labor progressing. Right?

Well, got the girls off to school. Called my midwife and told her what was going on. Set up a plan to drop off Blueberry with another set of houseparents, and headed over to the house we're planning on having Baby Q at. All this time, contractions continue at least every 5 minutes, generally more like 3. Again, i can still talk through most (not all) of them, but as we're doing a home birth (or the closest equivalent we can get to one!), I didn't want to be rushing there at the last minute and trying to settle in a new environment while just trying to focus on birth itself.

We met up with Shea and Barbara (the second midwife who will be there and whose gorgeous house we're using for our birth). We got settled. After awhile, Shea took my vitals and checked on baby. All good. So we settled in to wait for awhile. Well, contractions continued but didn't increase in intensity or speed or anything. I eventually asked Shea to check and see where I was at. She had checked me on Friday due to the contractions I was having then, so we had a baseline to work off of. And unfortunately, I really hadn't progressed despite several days of this and the hours of contractions I'd already been experiencing since Tuesday morning.

She did comment that he was really high still and needed to engage more as that would probably allow the contractions to have more force behind them. We talked about some things I could do to try and get him to engage. Shea and Barbara then left us for awhile so we could just be us. We watched a movie and I did kind of circuit of activity trying to get him to move down and position himself properly.

During all of this, we'd been experiencing a dark and cloudy day--a day that just kept getting darker and cloudier and darker and cloudier....and the rain started in. Ominous was the word I kept thinking about the clouds.

Several hours later, contractions still continued, with an increase in intensity. I found I couldn't stand the movie anymore, and was just focused on contractions. I really couldn't move at all through them anymore and while I could grunt out a response if I needed to, that was it as far as talking went.

In the meantime, the rain was pouring and the wind was howling. Tornado warning apparently (which we didn't find out about until it was about over), which sent my sister (who had driven down that day from Springfield to be with Blueberry for us) and Blueberry scurrying to the shelter with the rest of the campus. Branches falling down. Craziness.

Shea came back and checked my progress again. Minor. Two hours and maybe one centimeter. He was, however, a little lower, which was good. But still discouraging. I wound up taking a bath and a benadryl and going to bed. As the storm had mostly died off at this point, it was a little less dramatic at least (the room the bed is in is surrounded on three sides by windows). I slept off and on all night--waking up every half hour or so with continued contractions.

The next morning, Wednesday, I got up and started moving around. Contractions didn't feel quite as strong as they had. They hadn't stopped by any means, but they were just not as regular or intense. After we were all up and moving, Shea checked again. I had dilated another centimeter and a half or so overnight. At this point I was facing having had non-stop contractions for over 24 hours and that was all the progress I had. A more engaged baby, 4ish centimeters, and not being fully effaced. Not nice!

After talking it over, Shea suggested we go home for awhile. Hang out with Blueberry and my sister. Maybe talk a walk. See what happens. So we went home. I wound up crashing for another hour at home, and then we went to the mall and walked around for a few hours. Finally said goodbye to Blueberry and Joy, and drove back to our birth house. My hips were hurting from walking, so I took a bath to relax. Dozed off a little bit in the bath. Contractions had picked up again and even increased in intensity. But unfortunately when Shea checked my progress, she determined I was actually closer to a 3 than a 4 and I had no more effacing than before. Talk about discouragement.

On a good note, all my vitals were showing normal and healthy. Baby is active as ever with a very regular heartbeat. And he is definitely lower than he was. 

Shea finally told us I am in Prodromal labor. A term I'd never heard of before. Kind of prelabor but not just Braxton Hicks. We finally decided to just go home. Be with Blueberry. My prescription--rest and relax and try to eat and stay hydrated and wait for active labor to kick in. I will fully admit to some tears of frustration and discouragement. Along with feeling annoyed that I could have contractions this frequently, this hard, and it not be going the way it "should be". Go figure--classic labor is yet another medical term that prescribes everyone into the same basic scenario and leaves little allowance for those of us who apparently like to take our own paths to labor.

I will admit, I'm glad to be in the hands of a midwife and not a doctor right now. Being right at that 4 cm mark Wednesday, I very well could have been looking at not being sent home by the hospital but kept and having the interventions started on--water breaking, pitocin, that whole scenario that I don't want if I don't have to have.

I have held on to that thought the last day and a half. It is now Friday morning. Contractions continue. They've abated in intensity a little most mornings, but have yet to go away fully. Then they pick up again in the afternoon and all through the night. Still very consistent in timing and length. Consistent enough that if it wasn't for the fact that there is not a major significant increase in intensity (although they are intense enough as is for going on for days and days, thank you very much), I'd be thinking I was in full blown, active labor. I'm not working; just trying to focus on me, my Baby Q, Chris, and little Miss Blueberry who did very well with all the randomness but definitely was missing us and was a major cuddle bug all yesterday afternoon.

The biggest struggle is resting enough (its hard to sleep well when contractions keep waking you up) and eating. My appetite did come back last night for awhile, which I took full advantage of. Currently not hungry again and indeed feel the faint strains of nausea niggling at me. Just keep reminding myself that I need energy and strength for when we do finally get to le grande finale.

I spent much of yesterday reading up on Prodromal Labor. I probably ran across the term in my pregnancy readings of either Blueberry or Baby Q, but it wasn't one I was remembering. Apparently it is a lot more common than I would have ever realized.

Frequently doctors often refer to it as "false labor"--which I think is very unfair and even a little insulting. If i had gone to the hospital over the last few weeks with some of the contractions I had felt which had died down, I could understand the term "false labor." But this. This is not false. This does not go away with a simple change in activity or drinking enough water. It is exhausting and very real. The intensity may die down some at certain times before picking back up again, but its not something you can just ignore. These are the same contractions I felt when I was heading to the hospital to have my Blueberry. They just aren't increasing in intensity--just keeping up a long, drawn out state of discomfort and/or pain.

I have no idea where I'm at cervically. The good thing about this kind of labor is that it can continue to work towards dilation and effacement. And there is a theory that it can lead to short full blown labors when that time comes--we'll see if that holds true!

In the meantime, I do my best to stay positive and not allow myself to get discouraged. There are times I, admittedly, really have struggled with that. I'm active as I can be while trying to not allow myself to get exhausted. Went on a walk Thursday morning with Joy before she left; got her addicted to a few of the stores we have here. I'm trying to cherish these precious days with my Blueberry before she becomes the big sister and not the only child.

There are a thousand other questions and concerns that try to wear down my brain and I do my best to refuse them entry.

We will see what this day holds.

For those who want a really description of this whole Prodromal labor thing, I think this is the best summary I've read of it: Prodromal Labor: What Is It?. There's a lot of information out there when you know what you're looking for, but I just like the description and perspective of what's going on from this particular link. Plus the links at the end of the article to Prodromal Labor stories are really interesting as well.

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