Boy oh boy- what we learned...
First off, I was just too stressed out from the day to day stuff to really focus on laboring. I was timing contractions and asking myself constantly if it was really happening and never stopped to just listen to my body. My body was saying YES! but my mind just wasn't in the right place.
My husband was also in a state of denial, and decided that this was the perfect time to clean up loose ends. Instead of staying with me and supporting me, he was out trying to sell our car and deal with grocery shopping and planning my birthday party. In retrospect, I realize that I wanted him to stop putting his attention on all these fairly unimportant details and work with me to make this labor actually happen. I got really grumpy and out of sorts (the classic Bradley "putsy putsy") and that was precisely the moment my husband decided to drive the now sold car to the new owner's house instead of just letting it go and staying with me. (At first he wanted ME to drive the car, but I refused!)
I also realize that the contractions need to be much stronger, and that I will have time to work through them. There is no rush here, the baby will come when he needs to, so I don't need to stress about it. It will just happen, right? Timing the contractions isn't nearly as important as just experiencing them, one at a time.
I know that there probably are a lot of reasons for false labor, but I really am starting to believe that my stress level on that day and my general attitude were what got in the way of it progressing to something more fruitful.
So the next time this happens, be it false labor or not, I am going to insist that my husband NOT rush about trying to take care of last minute details. He's my partner in this adventure and I need my partner with me. We're already as prepared as we need to be, we don't really need to stock up on eggs and milk before I go to the hospital.
Another thing is that I am not going to call anyone but those I absolutely have to call. My husband can make phone calls another time. The day after calls to family and friends were so difficult to make because I was so let down, disappointed, and embarrassed. I felt as though I was completely out of touch with my body, and there was this sad embarrassement that I had to play out with each phone call. It was really hard. So if this happens again, I'm going to ask him to hold off on phone calls until we're absolutely certain something is truly happening. Even if it is in the middle of the night. Afterwards, there were people saying things like "I knew it wasn't true labor" and that just wasn't helpful.
So those are a few of the things I learned from the experience. It was a difficult lesson, but I think it will help us when the real time comes. I know many women have similar experiences and I wonder what they may have learned from those experiences that they can share.