I started having contractions last Saturday night. Exhausting, painful contractions. In the week that has followed, I’ve had them nearly nonstop. And the worst part is that I probably have three more weeks of this to look forward to. I’m only 37 weeks. It’s not “real” labor… or is it?
In my Internet travels, I have discovered that this is a whole different category of labor. I am not a midwife, doctor, or doula, but according to everything I have read and my consultations with birth professionals, I have learned that prodromal labor is real labor. It is NOT Braxton-Hicks. Braxton-Hicks contractions are a painless tightening of the uterus. These painful contractions start and build in waves, then ebb. They contribute to dilation and effacement. They are just… really slow. This is how my body prepares for the main event, and I need to learn to relax and deal with it.
I had these with Henry, and I remember being frustrated with them. But this time, I’m older and have a three-year-old to chase after. I’m tired. Doing anything physical causes these things to get into gear, so I have to take frequent breaks. I’m also psychologically tired. I don’t know how I will deal with three more weeks of work, but I have to work because I want to save my time off for when the baby is actually here. (Although at least I’m not scheduled for any more time on desk, so I don’t have to worry about walking patrons to the stacks.) I feel guilty because I don’t want to travel, just in case, but my family all lives far away, and I’m missing out on holiday events. I’m having trouble keeping Henry entertained. And I’m having trouble keeping me entertained – once the kiddo goes to bed, I can’t focus on anything!
So, the answers to all your burning questions: Yes, I could have the baby any day now, but “any day now” could be tomorrow, or it could be December. Yes, I’m in labor… sort of. No, contractions do not mean the baby is coming. And if you are in the same boat, this doesn’t mean you are weird, and you are not crazy! Relaxing is hard, but I’m doing my best – and enjoying what little sleep I am getting, because soon I’ll have even less!