Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

False Alarm Finnbjørn

I suppose I shouldn't leave you all hanging anymore. I am, after all, really glad I have this blog. And really grateful there are women out there willing to share their weird labor stories.

Though, as SR pointed out yesterday, "the people who write their stories in the comments are those with extreme stories. No one ever writes about normal things happening." Or do they? I'm not so sure. While I don't for a moment think that the women who comment on this blog represent at random sample, I am continually amazed by peoples' honesty and willingness to share - whatever their story.

So, clearly I have no baby to brag about yet. Otherwise there would have been a big, gleaming picture of Finnbjørn.

What happened on Saturday and Sunday was a relatively extreme experience for me, a woman who has led fairly a mundane life, and who thrives on predictability. Suddenly experiencing regular contractions at rest, I was sure I was in labor. And I wasn't mentally prepared. I cried multiple times in a panicked state. And SR dared to mutter the words "I'm scared", which were words far too meaningful for me to even formulate. We couldn't sleep and when we went to the hospital, right next door, we took the Baby Bjørn along, sure we would come home with a baby. We can only look back on it and laugh a little at how wrong we were.

Sunday afternoon, my contractions stopped. SR and I were alone at that time and took a nap, went on a run and a bike ride. I was dead tired, though. And my uterus was extremely sore. The other weird thing was that Finnbjørn kicked and squirmed like I have never felt before, without any rest for the nearly 24 hours I had contractions. I was concerned about him. It was almost as if he was in distress. But he calmed down afterwards, too.

Monday morning, I felt better. I went on a 30k bike ride, swam 70 pool lengths and then ran for an hour. All things considered, exercising went fairly normally. Then I ate lunch and the contractions started again. Every 4-12 minutes and some very strong. Some so strong I had to do serious deep breathing and started sweating. They lasted until around 7pm and then went away again, while eating dinner with my parents, who are currently visiting. I woke up a few times at night with contractions, but today there really haven't been any.

Today, I ran, went to Pulse/step/core class and uncharacteristically for me, used the elliptical. Raising my pulse simply makes me feel a heck of lot better.

But, what are these contractions?

Well, I think they are simply Braxton Hicks contractions of rest. I mean, it's not labor unless the cervix is opening at the same time, and I'm not really experiencing anything painful enough to open a cervix. (1cm open, by the way, just seems to be a very stable configuration for the nearly-ready cervix and shouldn't be interpreted as a sign of active labor). And why would a woman NOT get Braxton Hicks at rest? I mean, even when we are resting our bodies are working. And when we are digesting food, stressed, tired, dehydrated, you name it, our bodies are working a little harder and that may just be enough to start the Braxton Hicks of rest. Why some women don't experience them and why I didn't experience them during my last pregnancy, I am not sure.

As soon as I came to terms with the fact that it wasn't labor, I felt a lot better. I mean, I have been dealing with Braxton Hicks during exercise for months now, so I should be able to deal with them at rest, RIGHT?

But there is an element of pain. And the more I think about it, the more I notice it.

So I have developed some guidelines for contraction pain at rest:

- don't count minutes between contractions or do anything else that brings attention to their presence
- exercise as much as possible because exercise is the best medication for raising the pain threshold
- taking tylenol is a GOOD idea (because it least it takes away my headache and seems to lessen the contractions)
- remember, the longer they go on, the more your body will get used to them and the less they will hurt
- continue life as normal (this one is essential)

Now the big question: will I get so good at ignoring the contractions that I miss the real thing? I doubt it :).

In lieu of a running song of the day I have a running T-Shirt of the day (inspired by the very humorous Bike Snob NYC):

And once you're done laughing, a good organization to support today, to help the situation in East Africa: or


Kate said...

that shirt cracked me up b/c my daughter keeps requesting bob marley lately, and being 3, she's pretty demanding. (though not *that* demanding.) : )

good luck with everything! I've been brushing up on/skimming my Bradley book in preparation and basically it advises that the key is to as much as possible focus on relaxing yourself, your every muscle, when the contractions come, so as to not work against your body by tensing up.

this is all very interesting to me, because I've never had BH in 3 pregnancies. And I'm kind of unfamiliar with the idea of regular contractions that aren't also painful. I hope this time around I get some productive ones that aren't necessarily painful. that would be fantastic!

Try not to be scared - it's all gonna come out just great, right?

Anonymous said...

I think this all sounds very normal and that your body is just getting nice and ready for labor. The way I think of it, the more BH you have, the stronger and more prepared your body will be for actual labor contractions.

Of course, everyone is different, but with my first pregnancy I experienced BH at rest for 2-3 weeks prior to the onset of labor, with growing intensity in the days just before. I was also worried I would not be able to tell the real thing, but sure enough, the real contractions were IMMEDIATELY obvious from the BH. That said, I was "due" on Nov. 8th, gave birth on Nov. 17th, and remember clearly on Nov. 4th (a day we went out of town to get my mind off of waiting for labor) thinking that I would have the baby that night based on my BH, alas, it was not for another 13 days! So, I think you are just experiencing something similar.

Continuing life as normal seems like a good idea, and relaxing when you can to be good and rested when the real thing begins. Good luck!

Shannon in KS

SteveQ said...

Don't worry... 'bout a thing... cuz evry little thing... gonna be all right.

Kristin said...

I just had my 2nd baby a few weeks ago. Much different the 2nd time but I had very regular BH off and on for 3 weeks before delivering (with my 1st I hardly had any except during exercise). However when real labor set in I sure knew it and had to move fast since my daughter arrived in a few hours after the real ones kicked in. This being your 2nd there is no doubt you will know when the real ones start! Hang in there the last few weeks are hard to be patient!

The Chapples said...

I swear you DID have them last time! I remember reading that you felt contractions during a spin class...anyway, I don't have them nearly as much this pregnancy compared to last. Who knows why?? I am just as active and it's much hotter than last time. Weird stuff. I hated them last time. Just plain annoying. Much different than actual labor contractions though.

Hang in there! We're almost done!

The Chapples said...

Check your January 3, 2008 entry. You were having them then. ;) Are you scared that I remember details of your blog that clearly? Ha!

sea legs girl said...

The chapples, yeah I had tons of Braxton hicks last time, just never at rest. Sorry I didn't make that clearer!

Diana said...

I seem to get BH when I'm doing nothing but sitting at my desk and writing. Maybe it's my body's way of telling me that work is too stressful. ;)
Sounds like you've got a handle on the situation. Good luck relaxing and letting your body do what it needs to do to prepare for labor. Thinking of you and sending you lots of good thoughts!

Lani said...

Like a lot of other people, I had a similar experience with my #2. Two weeks before his due date I was sure he would be early because the BH were getting pretty intense, but he didn't come until almost a week after his due date! And I would agree that you usually can tell the difference. But, by the time I was completely 'sure' I was in labor and we went to the hospital, I was open to 9cm! So, sometimes those pesky BH actually do start making some progress! Best of luck with it all!

The Chapples said...

Oh, gotcha!! Sorry if I sounded like a big know-it-all :blushing:.

I seem to only have them this time when I have to pee and once in a while if I am exercising. Last time I had them constantly. At rest, when exercising, when I was trying to sleep, you name it. Actually, the lack of B-H this time around is making me feel like this baby is never going to want to come out!!

Kirsten said...

You'll know when the right time comes!!! Just like you know when the Lorax is ill or uncomfortable - 'cause you're the mom. Don't worry, when it comes it comes big time. I'm sure that all this is happening because Finnbjørn is preparing to get out of there and it'll happen when he's good and ready.
And you better have something to show next time I hit Præstø!!! ;-)

May-Britt Hansen said...

Sorry Tracy
I´ve already told you that you have to wait for July 30th ;-)
Take care..

sea legs girl said...

Ah, May-Britt! That's right. It's your fault this is taking so long :).

Anonymous said...

Hi Sea Legs Girls,

I have recently discovered your blog and it has been very entertaining for me to read through your posts! I am sort of in a similar situation only opposite. I am Danish with an American husband and living in the US. I am 5 months pregnant with my first baby. I was actually in Denmark in May and ran a stretch of the Copenhagen Marathon to cheer on my brother who was running it. I remember seeing you and thinking "awesome", so imagine my surprise when I discovered your blog!

I am also a runner although not quite as enthusiastic as you. I run 3-5 miles every other day or so and also do spinning, weight training and yoga. The last few weeks I have been getting a lot of Braxton Hicks though, and it's beginning to have me a bit concerned. I was told to drink lots of water. We have also been having a crazy heatwave and maybe that it making the situation worse. Did you have them this early (23 weeks)? Were you ever concerned? It is mainly when I exercise but also when I walk (and I do a lot of walking around the city for transportation) and oftentimes they come back at night. I am curious to hear your experience.

I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming birth! Btw the "false labor" is very very common for second time moms. Although frustrating it does mean your body is gearing up for the real deal. I am also a birth doula :)

Best wishes!

sea legs girl said...

Hi Anon,

What a great comment. I am so happy you took the time to write. I actually did start having Braxton Hicks contractions (plukveer) right around 22-23 weeks when running long distances. I have to imagine that the exercise plus the heat is what is doing it to you. Plus women seem to be very different in terms of whether or not and when they notice Braxton Hicks. As long as they aren't painful (just uncomfortable) I wouldn't worry about it. One thing you could get checked, if you do go to a doctor/nurse anytime soon is whether or not you have a bladder infection - that MAY explain why you are having them at night, though it is more likely what you are experiencing is simply along the spectrum of normal.

So cool, by the way, that you saw me at the Copenhagen Marathon. And thanks for the advice about the "false labor" - I'm starting to accept it as just a reality of a second pregnancy (as much as it hurts!).