For 3 weeks leading up to Birth Day I had had prodromal labor, enough to keep me up at night, sometimes timing contractions as close as 5-10 min apart. They would always fizzle out after about 90 minutes though. I cleaned my kitchen a half dozen times during the middle of the night those weeks! I had never had prodromal labor nor have I ever gone past due, so facing it for the first time I wore myself out physically and emotionally. It all came to a head when I was exactly 41 weeks pregnant and 1 day and feeling like I would be pregnant forever. Everyone I saw everywhere (we live in a very social smallish town) couldn't believe I was still pregnant. I was so uncomfortable. That evening I went to the pool (feeling ridiculous in my suit that I didn't feel fit very well) and feeling like I couldn't sit well or do anything anymore, I jumped in the lap lane and decided to swim a dozen slow breast-stroke style laps, hoping maybe it would help. That night before going to bed, though, all the physical and emotional drain caught up to me and I cried to my husband feeling like everything was just terrible. I could barely even explain how I felt, I just cried and cried!! My husband listened, got me a small glass of wine, and after I calmed down we went to sleep.
Well only 2 hrs after falling asleep I awoke to a big contraction. I realized I had also started leaking fluid. I got out of bed even though my husband knowing the prodromal labor I'd been having actually encouraged me to go back to sleep, and started timing contractions 2-5 min apart. They were easy to breathe through but they did require me to stop and pay attention to them. Well after only 20 min of this my husband who did finally join me decided he was calling the midwife! I couldn't believe it and asked him to just wait for 1 hr to see if they would pass. I was so worried still about everything just stopping. But he refused and we called the midwife who also encouraged me after hearing me breathe through a contraction to head to the birth center right away. I still was in disbelief, and I knew the contractions were only 30 sec long, AND still easy to handle, so I remained uncertain on how the night would end. Well we got to the birth center, jumped right in the tub, and the contractions were remaining 2-3 min apart, but lengthening, plus I was feeling their intensity more and more. However I was still able to laugh in between them and feel completely clear-headed, and I *never* would say they hurt compared to my 3 other labors.
After being at the birth center for 45 min and drinking a LOT of water (I came in a bit dehydrated), I got out of the tub to use the bathroom, where my water broke :) It was then that I *finally* realized that this was really labor!!! I felt a small urge to push in the bathroom but STILL could not believe it would already be time to push that soon after arriving...so I went back in the tub, however on the walk back I had a huge transitional contraction, and the midwife looked at me and said "tell me where you want to go!" I said back to the pool, where she told me I could push. I replied, "seriously?!?! I can push already?!!" And she responded "well if you feel the urge!" Of course I did, but I was still in la-la land that the time had finally come to have my baby!! Pushing my baby girl out was real work, b/c like I mentioned the contractions seemed so easy this time, but 6 minutes later after 2 pushes she joined us!
It was the longest warm up, easiest labor, and hardest pushing I've ever done in 2.5 hrs (from start to finish). B was born at 8 lbs 10 oz at 2:30 am, 1 hr after arriving to the birth center.
ETA: I make a point to talk about the prodromal labor and emotions it brought out b/c for me, when I was going through it, it helped hearing other mamas stories about how frustrating all those starts and stops can be, and that I was really doing work--it wasn't just plain "false" labor. The midwife in retrospect really believes my baby was just a tad off in her position which stopped labor all those times, and she also believes my doing laps that night in the pool helped her adjust herself in the womb to make labor finally successful.
I'm a home birth midwife and I see this type of labor often. In my heart I keep thinking, "Okay, when this thing starts going for real, it's going to go fast!" Most times it does, but sometimes it doesn't. I tend not to say anything to the woman though, because I'm afraid if I'm wrong it is going to be a real let-down. Would it have been helpful for you to hear, "Sometimes this means when your active labor starts, it could go real fast, so try to bear this early labor because it means a great active labor is ahead of you!" --even if it turned out not to be a fast labor?
Actually, yes it would have been helpful, to me anyway. I wonder what other moms would think since that is a tricky situation, maybe if its more likely to be not a first time birth than chances are even greater for a quicker delivery when real labor arrives? For me, anything at that point to help describe what I was going through would end up helping things in the end, b/c I felt like the midwives thought I may be making the prodromal labor up (even though they NEVER ever indicated that--it was definitely a mental struggle I put myself through).
For me my 2 previous labors before this one had actually been fast also, so I had already predicted a quick delivery. I honestly think had I been able to have another homebirth this time, she would have been born far sooner than 2.5 hrs!! There's something about having to get in the car and drive somewhere--even when that somewhere is the loveliest birth center on the planet--and having to get settled in again that I'm quite sure slows my progress a little. With my homebirth the midwife arrived exactly 20 min before I pushed my 3rd child out ;)
With my 4th I had prodromal labor for a week or more, even though I was not overdue it really messed with me body and soul. But when labor came it was short- 3.5 hours!
Congratulations! Thank you so much for this story. As I sit here, nearly a week overdue and having had prodromal labor for the past two weeks already, I am D-O-N-E DONE! It's nice to hear that things worked out so well and so quickly for you in the end.
Congratulations again and thanks for sharing! I'm glad that your active labor went so quickly and so well for you. I had a longer warmup and much shorter active labor/pushing with my second.
Paula, mama to DS M (7/2010) and Watson (1998) and welcoming baby Penny (8/1/2013)