Tuesday, February 23, 2010

20 Weeks, Contracting Regularly

Before I get into last night's events, I want to disclose a few things: I am not a clock-watcher. The reason I know so well the timing of last night's episode has to do with the fact that I was near a clock all evening and could not help but notice that contractions were coming very close together (verifiable by glancing at said clock). I had only to set my eyes in a particular direction to see what time it was in each room I found myself (and for the bath, I could also note the length of contractions, since that clock also had a second hand).

I would/do not advocate that every woman time every contraction that ever happens, nor do I do this myself. However, my researchy side has found that sometimes this is the only way for people to acknowledge that these kind of things actually do happen--they are not just impressions. Actual times can be noted. Several things that I have experienced contraction-wise in pregnancy and labor are so far from textbook that I find the in-the-textbook-box thinkers quite annoying at times.

It can be very discouraging to go through a non-textbook experience and have it discounted or explained away by these people. I recall being in a room full of women a few months ago, listening to a woman who has probably witnessed a few hundred births (if not more) and should know better, defining prodromal labor as contractions that a woman experiences that are only a few seconds long, but "mom" has the impression that she is in labor, when a more objective viewer can clearly see that she is simply paying attention too soon (another way to say prodromal labor is not real). While I do not doubt that this scenario is possible, I did not appreciate that she failed to acknowledge the fact that women do indeed have long, strong and close-together contractons for days at a time that very much fit the description of true labor contractions. What was made clear in her description was that she herself had not ever labored this way, and had probably not seen much of it either.

I hope to expound on a few of my "researchy" ideas in this pregnancy, but I need to talk with my midwives first, so for now, here's what began at 5 p.m. yesterday despite being well-rested, eating and snacking, drinking 64 ounces of water, emptying my bladder often and soaking in a warm tub of water:

Monday marked the completion of my 20th week of pregnancy. My body celebrated by contracting every 2 minutes for seven-plus hours. And that quite unexplainably, as they started about an hour after my waking from a 2-hr nap, while I was preparing dinner (and snacking on avocado, cheese, carrot, ham, etc.) and drinking water. In the beginning, it made a little sense that I was experiencing contractions at that moment (empty stomach, a while since I'd hydrated myself, etc.), but they didn't change after having 2 (16 oz) glasses of water and plenty of dinner. So far in this pregnancy, two-minute-apart contractions are not something I have experienced yet (at least that I have noticed).

My usual pregnancy/labor contractions are not very "regular" in the truest sense. Generally, the only way I have "regular" contractions is by grouping them in a window (say, 3-5 minutes apart), but last night, they were right. on. the dot. As one would start, I'd look at the clock on the stove and, sure enough, 2 minutes had gone by. I would feel another one coming on and could be certain that if I looked up again, I would see another even number.

After eating dinner, cleaning up and putting the girls to bed, Case and I sat down for the next few hours and checked e-mail and read up on a few things. I had another couple (16 oz) glasses of water. Yet the contractions did not budge a bit.

By 11:30, Case had gone to bed. I was still contracting, and not in a going-to-bed mood, as they were still very close and I didn't think I could sleep until they either slowed or calmed down, intensity-wise (not that most of them were intense--once-in-a-while I would feel a distinct down-low "opening" feeling at the contraction's peak, but otherwise, they were just noticeable, with a discernable start, peak, and decline).

So, I drew a bath, had another glass of water and a snack, and had a very short let-up timing-wise: Two contractions were 5 min. apart (about 30 seconds long), but then the next one was 4 min. (30 seconds again), the next 3 (45 seconds), and after those 4 contractions, they settled back into 2 min apart again, 45-50 seconds long for the duration of the bath. Around 12:40, I decided that I had exhausted all the things I could think of to slow/stop contractions, and I lay down to try to get some sleep.

It was a little difficult to fall asleep, as I could feel my belly dig into the mattress (I was on my side) every couple minutes. Hard to get past the distraction of my body working while I wanted to sleep. However, it wasn't more than 20 minutes before I was able to drift off, and they did not wake me through the night. In the morning, I awoke to contractions 15 minutes apart, and that was a good discovery.

Today was very busy, and I didn't notice another pattern of close-together contractions, so that is encouraging. It is not that I worry about these episodes--this is how my body gears up for giving birth. This kind of thing is nothing new to my pregnancies, and I haven't yet had the fear that I'm in pre-term labor.

This is the irony of my body doing automatically what my mind would never choose to do: if it were up to my mind, I don't believe I would have even one contraction until birth day. I am a procrastinator and have never been very motivated to practice or even begin something until it is just about due, be it a writing assignment or a baby's birth!

So, it is not that I worry when this kind of thing happens. However, having too many spells like this can have a frustrating effect, so I am grateful that today was not a continuation of yesterday's weirdness. This pregnancy, I am purposing to have a better attitude, should that kind of thing happen. My tendency is to become annoyed, and I want to instead welcome whatever happens, and follow Philippians 2:14 better by not grumbling or disputing. I did this too much with my second pregnancy, and fell into complaining about seemingly needless contractions now and then with my 3rd as well. So, this time even more, I'd like to be really mindful of my mental/emotional state within the physical state of unexplainable contractions and remain postitive.

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