The contractions kept doing their thing, but I kept cheating on my modified "bed rest." A slow walk around the block with the dog here, a quick trip to CVS there. I was feeling cocky. Since I had been checked by the midwife and seemed to be holding steady, I saw no real harm in a little fresh air or a teensy amount of exercise. Jared needed to fly out for a conference in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night and I insisted on driving him to the airport. "Driving is just sitting anyway!" I said.
That evening I began to notice some lower back pain and mild cramping, but I brushed it off. Pregnancy is full of weird aches and pains. The next day my mom and brother drove to town and we had lunch at my sister's place. I felt off. I had steady contractions throughout lunch and slightly worsening back pain and cramping, so after lunch I put my feet up and tried to relax. My mother knew something was up. "Some of the things you are describing sound like labor," she said, and I finally acknowledged I should maybe call the birth center.
I went in and the student midwife checked me out, tried to say some reassuring things, then went out to confer with the head midwife, Elizabeth. A minute later Elizabeth strode into the room and announced, "You're going on bed rest, but first you're going to the emergency room." They explained that my cervix had begun to soften and efface. I would need a shot to stop the contractions, which would hopefully prevent further changes or dilation. Then I was to go on bed rest, real bed rest, to take pressure off my cervix and help my uterus calm down.
My sister drove me to the hospital. They hooked me up to a monitor to chart the contractions and the baby's movement. She was kicking and flipping and as busy as usual. The contractions were 6 minutes apart. They stuck a horrible IV into my hand, (number one phobia right there) and then gave me a shot of Terbutaline in my arm. "This might make your heart race a little," the nurse said, flicking clear drops of medicine from the tip of the syringe. Within minutes my face was flushed and my pulse was zooming. I shivered and squirmed on the bed. The tube in my hand ached. The poor baby sensed my anxiety and she squirmed too.
They performed a Fetal Fibronectin test and a very fat, very gruff doctor walked in and told me that if the test was negative, I could be nearly certain I wouldn't go into labor in the next two weeks. If it was positive, I would be staying in the hospital, given steroids to help the baby's lungs develop, more Terbutaline, and then I would maybe go into labor. "But," he said, giving me a rheumy eyed glance, "you look healthy. Probably just dehydrated." He scribbled some notes. "How many weeks?" he barked at the nurse. She told him and he said, as he walked from the room,"Well, at least it would live."
An hour later the test came back negative, and we were free to go.
The Terbutaline took all night to wear off. I tried to sleep but was troubled by strange half-waking nightmares. My body was so tense I could no longer tell if I was contracting. By morning I was shaky and drained. My sister and her husband grocery shopped for me, brought me lunch and cleaned my kitchen, Jared booked a flight back from Pittsburgh. My midwife checked in via text and I told her the contractions had slowed somewhat, which seemed true, but a few hours later they picked up again. If I switched positions in bed, reached to my bedside table for my glass of water, or got up to use the bathroom my belly would distend into a solid ball. I tried to lie very still.
Two days later they come every 3-5 minutes as I lie in bed, and instantly if I move at all. Nothing seems to calm them. I drink my water and my coconut water and take magnesium and cramp bark even some red wine and I try to find a difference and there is none. I do not move for hours on end and still they come. They are painless. I won't know until I see the midwife again if they have caused further cervical changes.
I do know my baby will not be born in the next two weeks. I don't know for certain what happens after that.