pregnancy

Are These Contractions?

Sometime in the second trimester, I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions when I did too much. They were mild, not painful, and would stop after I sat down or drank some water. They would happen a few times in a day then disappear for weeks.

At the end of 36 weeks, I started having some signs of impending labor. I thought to myself it would be any day. Baby J moved lower in my pelvis and made everything uncomfortable. A few painful contractions started happening but they were random at best. I downloaded a contraction tracker.

At 37 weeks (I can’t recall the exact day now), I started the “bloody show.” And the doctor said the baby was growing close to the threshold for a vaginal birth. Google searches shifted to “how to induce labor” and “natural remedies for labor.” I picked the ones that sounded safest and began my plan.

  1. I started taking Evening Primrose Oil. For the first few days, it was just 1 capsule per day. I knew baby needed a little more time so I didn’t want to go too fast, but I also knew I needed this kid to kickstart labor on his own. Almost to 38 weeks and another “he’s getting too big” appointment, two capsules per day.
  2. Dates. Oh the dates. I read that eating about 7 dates per day starting at 36 weeks would ripen the cervix and possibly reduce labor times. So I got some dates and forced them down.
  3. Walking. The one “medically approved” induction method is walking. So I started making trips down the street. I bounced on an exercise ball a few times a day. I stood in meetings. I’d do squats at random. Exercise would get this baby out!
  4. Baby-making. We all know the old wives’ tale- what got the baby in there can get the baby out. We tried it. It was the hubs favorite method. I felt like a cow being brought to market.
  5. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: I drank about 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea (2 bags, steeped for about 10 minutes) per day.

Just before 38 weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night with painful contractions. They were every 15 minutes apart. From about 3am to 8am, it was clockwork. Hubby woke up for work and I told him he might want to stay home. I called into work- today might be the day! I took the morning to finish packing my hospital bag and make some final preparations. Contractions stopped. I anxiously waited and searched the web.

I had a doctor’s appointment pre-scheduled that afternoon so we went to lunch (Italian because someone said it might induce labor and I wanted a good “last meal”). At the doctor’s visit, I was 1 cm dilated and about 30% effaced. YES!!! But the contractions didn’t pick up again.

So I went to climb stairs. The husband cheered me on, telling me with every huff and puff that I was working this baby out on his own. It was what I wanted, but it sucked. We waited another day and both of us went to work. My best friend came over to walk the street with me half the night. I ate every meal thinking it might be my last before labor and I’d read every blog that said you couldn’t eat for like 24 hours usually so I wanted a full tummy.

By Friday (a full 48+ hours later), I wasn’t having any regular contractions. But I was feeling yucky. I called into work. I’d work from home but didn’t feel up to getting dressed and driving in. It was Labor Day weekend so I had 4 full days to rest and see about baby. I didn’t walk that night- I was exhausted. But we waited. I tried to sleep and not stress about when this kid would greet the world. I felt impending doom- I was headed for a C section. Early labor could last for a week. I ate my dates and kept the bag packed. Just maybe.

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