Sunday, May 4, 2008

How Is Someone Like Me Supposed to Know When to Call?

On Monday’s visit, I asked Barb when I should call her to come, and she said when I had activity-halting contractions ten minutes apart lasting 30 seconds. I have not been keeping track like I did with Claire’s pregnancy, but I have definitely been having strong and close together contractions for many weeks. One Sunday evening (at 29 weeks, 2 days), they were 3 minutes apart, then spacing to 5, then 10-15 over a 2-3 hour time period. The 3-min-apart ones only lasted about 45 minutes before they started to space out, but they were pretty strong, and the strength of my contractions has only intensified recently. Two days ago (when I finally started feeling better from my cold) they became noticeably more downward- and forward-pulling, and my back is involved now (not my lower back like in back labor, but a little higher, like it may be the round ligaments straining.)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve been having contractions that fit the description she gave for awhile now, but at least they haven't made much of a pattern yet. If I have close together contractions, they haven’t all been very strong. (Until Friday night, when they were only 2-5 minutes apart and very intense—even in the bath—I actually wondered if it was labor for a few hours. Here we go again.) Usually in the last few weeks with this pregnancy, I’ll have some moderate contractions throughout the day with a few an hour grabbing my undivided attention. And this pregnancy has been a little different in that my contractions don’t generally last more than a minute. As I said before, I’m not keeping track, but when I notice them when I’m near a clock, the minutes on the clock almost never change more than once before the contraction subsides (meaning contractions are at most less than 2 minutes long, and likely one minute or less). So that’s been a nice break this pregnancy. Even the doozies are pretty short, so I’m not going crazy yet.

The whole “how to tell if it’s the real deal” thing is very confusing to someone who labors like me. The general instruction a provider gives is to call when contractions are strong, 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute for an hour. So if I had followed those instructions for my last 2 births, I would have gone to the hospital (for absolute sure) 2 days before my first child was born (and possibly earlier than that, if I’d known to time them sooner), and my midwife would have been coming over to check me every few days for almost a month before my 2nd child was born. I’m not sure if I would have called by now in this pregnancy, since I’m not sure if they’re lasting a whole minute or not yet, but I’m already pretty close to meeting those standards now, and probably won’t have this baby for at least 2 weeks.

I could go by what my sister’s Doc told her when they called to see when to come in (water breaking, bloody show, or contractions 5 minutes apart or less). But let’s see . . . water breaking would mean we would have never made it to the hospital with Ruby (if it weren’t for amniotomy 13 minutes before her birth, the water may have never broken), and with Claire, our help barely made it in time (there is NO way we would have made it if we had to go to the hospital with her). So that’s not entirely reliable. How about bloody show? Well, we would have gone to the hospital over 49 hours before Ruby was born. A tad early, I think (and begging to be meddled with). And for Claire, she was almost out before any kind of blood was a factor. What about contractions 5 minutes apart? Like I said above, we would have been WAY too early for both births if we had gone by that sign.

It does scare me a little when I think that we may not know in time to call Barb and that I may have an unassisted birth this time. I do not want that, but it is a real possibility with how I labor. It’s either that or cry wolf 10 times and have Barb just roll her eyes when I actually do need her. Barb tells me that in her experience, second babies are usually the fastest, and it doesn’t mean that subsequent babies come faster and faster. But my problem is not so much with speed (Claire’s labor was 12 hours—not “fast” by almost anyone’s standards), but with how far I am into it before I know for sure that my baby is definitely coming this time. Add the fact that we’re farther away now that we’ve moved, and there is a great possibility that we’ll have this baby on our own.

I am not entirely fearful of this, but I am not in la-la land, either. I know childbirth is natural and that God made my body to do what it will do, but I’m not unaware of the tainting that “the fall” has had on all the things that, when God created them, he called “good.” The fact is that my body is not to be trusted: it is God who is to be trusted. And I need to be wise and discerning about my choices. I may not blindly bumble my way into serious consequences and blame it on Him. There is a delicate balance (I hate to use that word: it isn’t ideal) between trusting God and being foolish. I need to do all that I can to be careful and thoughtful, yet all the while trust that the outcome is truly in God’s hand. Casey and I will be praying for discernment to know in time that I am truly in labor.

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