I started having a lot of contractions yesterday afternoon around 3pm. They weren't particularly consistent--many as close as 3 minutes apart, some closer to 8-10 minutes apart. They weren't particularly painful, and mostly seemed to cause me to use the restroom. I called my husband from the parking lot at Charlotte's daycare, after a drive with mostly 3-5 minute contractions, and asked if he could skip his weekly wallyball league game and come home instead, knowing that things weren't painful enough to mean that the baby was minutes from birth, but nor did I want to be home alone with a toddler and have a hard time reaching him by phone.
We went home. I walked around. I started packing bags--one for me, one for Charlotte in case she needed to go visit a friends' house for the evening. Nothing really got worse. We had some dinner--cans of soup. My husband and Charlotte had popcorn and strawberries later in the evening. We all sat around on the couch and watched tv. My contractions were still in the 3-8 minute range, seeming to slow a bit if I actually lay down instead of sitting straight up. We went to bed around 10. I was able to mostly sleep--still getting up to go to the bathroom probably every hour or so, until about 2:45 in the morning.
After a trip to the bathroom, I noticed that the contractions were back at about 5 minutes apart, and were a bit more uncomfortable than before. Not really painful, just uncomfortable. I timed them for an hour or so in bed--3-5 minutes (there were a couple of 6 minute gaps where I either lost counted or started to doze, but really 3-5 minutes). My husband woke up to use the restroom and I told him what I was feeling. Finally I got up and went to call my OB, as I'd hit the 5 minutes apart for over an hour stage. He told me to head on to the hospital and get checked out.
At that point, it was about 4am and we had a sleeping toddler. I took a shower and gave my husband the unpleasant task of choosing one of two sets of friends in the neighborhood to call for assistance. He called, and one of the guys--the father of one of Charlotte's playmates, and a good friend of ours since college--came up. We packed things and headed to the hospital. My contractions were still there, and still merely annoying, so I probably looked a lot better than many women walking into a maternity ward at 4am.
The triage nurse took my information, hooked me up to monitors (the same kind of contraction and fetal heartrate monitors that I am tested on twice a week during my NST's), checked my cervix. 1.5 cm dialated, about 50% effaced. Contractions about 5 minutes apart, but on a scale 1-10, I rated them at a 3 (just above her example of menstrual cramps). They were definitely doing something--the last time my cervix was checked I was less than .5 inch dialated and just starting to efface. After a bit, I was unhooked and told to go walking around for an hour and come back. My husband and I toured the lobbies, some hallways, then outside around the parking lots, enjoying the warm spring pre-dawn.
We came back, and they repeated the checks--still same dilation, about the same effacing. By now, my doctor had arrived at the hospital for a different C-section he was scheduled for--Wednesdays are his "surgery" days, so he would actually be around all day. He confirmed the nurse's checks. They sent us on another walk. This time, we passed a Starbucks coffee cart, and I got some hot tea and a scone to nibble (my stomach was growling and it was 7:30 in the morning), and took another nice stroll outside. I was feeling contractions while walking, but they were harder to distinguish than when I was sitting (and I have plenty of normal discomfort from walking a lot, including lower abdomen pressure from the baby normally). Finally, we returned to the labor&delivery floor for round 3 of cervix checks and another quick monitoring. My contractions were a steady 4 minutes apart, but my cervix hadn't budged.
My doctor gave me the option of staying, and probably getting a bit of pitocin to help get things moving, or to head home and wait it out. Much as the idea of getting the process rolling appeals to me (and my lack of patience lately), I remember the pitocin last time and how much it hurt, and I know it would probably lead to an epidural, which I'm afraid will put me in the same straights as last time--a (bigger) baby that can get in a bad position and me not able to move enough (or be allowed out of bed) to help things. That may be what led to the C-section the first time, and I'd like to avoid one now. There's still the chance that my hip bones are just not shaped correctly to allow a baby's head to pass through, no matter how optimally he is positioned--but my mom had 5 babies, and each grandma had 4 (including the one who is less that 5 feet tall and really a tiny thing). I want the chance to try and avoid major surgery.
So I went home. And now we wait again.