As I posted earlier, I had one 'false alarm' where we went into the hospital - I was having contractions - but ended up going home because the contractions weren't doing anything or going anywhere. Throughout the week, I kept feeling contractions - some stronger than others - but nothing that was strong enough or lasted long enough for me to think it was time to go to the hospital again. I didn't want to be wrong again, so I told my contractions they would have to 'prove themselves' to me before we would go through the whole ordeal of making arrangements for Clara to go somewhere for night and we waited for 3 hours at the hospital before being sent home again.
I know I probably shouldn't have felt this way, but I was really starting to feel like we were taking advantage of family - we had people watch her quite frequently while I was pregnant and exhausted - and I was impatient to stop needing them so much. And as I said at my 39 Week Update - I was just tired of being pregnant!
This story starts last Thursday (October 25th) morning at my weekly OB/GYN appointment. My doctor had a resident working with her, who was the only one present for most of my appointment. The resident just happened to be one of the doctors who saw me at my false alarm the previous Saturday, so we had a bit of a chat while I was there. I told her I was hoping to have the baby on a Thursday night so I could have more time off from teaching piano - I had told my students 2 weeks off, which, if I went into labour sometime during my lesson week (Tuesday to Thursday) I would have to go back to work EXACTLY two weeks from giving birth, whereas if I went into labour at the end of my lesson week, I would have the extra Friday to Monday off.
Back to the point - as a resident, she didn't know immediately about my previous pregnancy or that I had told my OB/GYN at my last appointment that I didn't want my membranes stripped.
To explain that a bit, I was averse to having my membranes stripped because when my water started 'leaking' with Clara, causing me to be induced, I had thought the leaking may have been a result of the membrane stripping - thus causing the need for induction. I was determined to do everything possible to avoid induction this time, and in my mind that included NOT having my membranes stripped. Also, I had heard of a couple of people who blamed a still birth on having their membranes stripped, which my OB/GYN had assured me was not possible, but at the moment I wasn't entirely convinced. And although I knew that no doctor would do it if they believed it could cause a stillbirth, I know that even doctors don't know everything and there are inevitably things that modern medicine does that still cause more harm than we know.
So, the resident doctor was encouraged by the fact that I was already 3cm dilated, and 75% effaced and told me I would probably go in to labour within a few days. I informed her about my last pregnancy and how I was 3cm dilated at least 2-3 weeks before Clara was born, which surprised her. I couldn't help but be a bit hopeful - they say the second baby usually comes sooner than the first, right? Maybe this time I would actually have the baby early!
She also started informing me of the pros and cons of stripping membranes. I realized that I had not heard (or didn't remember) this particular chat from my pregnancy with Clara, so I didn't interrupt her. She told me how it releases hormones that usually result in a LOWER likelihood of induction.
Wait... having my membranes stripped makes it LESS likely for me to be induced?
She explained that although it doesn't hugely decrease the chances, it does seem to decrease them somewhat. I explained my theory that my water had 'leaked' with Clara as a result of stripping membranes, and she said that if stripping membranes were to cause water to break, it would almost certainly be immediately noticed because the break would be right at or near the opening of the cervix. She explained that if I was 'leaking', the leak was almost guaranteed to have been higher up on the sac, which could not have been caused by membrane stripping.
So, now that I was convinced membrane stripping actually carried less risks than NOT membrane stripping (in avoiding inductions, anyway), I told her to go ahead.
I have to mention also, that this particular resident doctor seemed to have an incredibly soft touch or something, because this time it didn't hurt AT ALL to have my membranes stripped. Last Saturday at the hospital, she had also suggested I stick my fists under my butt when they did the cervical exam, which opened things up and made it a lot less uncomfortable than it usually was...
Anyway, nothing immediately happened and I went home hoping and praying that this baby would come in the next few days as the resident had predicted.
At 4 that afternoon, as I was teaching my second last student for the week, I began to feel contractions. As before, I wasn't going to assume they were 'serious' until they 'proved themselves' to me, so I casually started timing them on my contraction timing app. They were coming every 10-15 minutes, and weren't really increasing in strength at all. Brian's parents sometimes pick up Clara for supper and the evening while I'm teaching piano, so she was with them for the evening. Since I was done teaching at 6:30 and I still had a few items on my list to buy for the baby, Brian and I had planned to go to the mall that evening. I figured it would be good to go ahead with this, to encourage the contractions - it was Thursday night, after all!
The contractions continued at semi-regular intervals, but still refused to get any stronger throughout our shopping trip. All of a sudden, they seemed to get rapidly closer together and I started timing them again. They were coming about 1 minute apart, and lasting 40-60 seconds. I still wasn't convinced they were 'anything', because they weren't really getting any stronger, but since Clara was with her Grandparents already anyway, we decided it was a good night to go to the hospital - even if it was another false alarm. So we called my in-laws and asked them to keep Clara with them until further notice.
Contractions continued and even started getting stronger in the car, and as I walked into the hospital I had one that took my breath away and I nearly had to stop walking. As we were in the elevator going up to the Labour Assessment ward, I had one that made me grab the railing and I almost fell over. We started getting excited...