My eyes flew open at 4:50 this morning 'cause I was feeling something... something familiar... something that took me back nearly three and a half years to the last time I had felt such a sensation. And, as it clenched around my lower back and abdomen, I thought to myself... "Oh crap... not yet... please not yet..."
I watched the clock until it was over. Then I watched the clock and waited. It hadn't been exactly "mild." Painful enough to make me pretty nervous. And I got freaked-out enough that my legs started shaking. Then I needed to use the bathroom... which made me even more nervous. It brought me back to the last time when I alternated between pacing the floor and using the bathroom in the few hours before we headed to the hospital. Oh boy... please not yet... please not yet...
I got back into bed, feeling almost like I needed to make another trip to the toilet. I contemplated waking my husband. But it had only been ONE, for crying out loud, and he had gone to bed late and needed to get up early to chaperone a youth basketball tournament with the boys from church. I tried to calm myself. I wrapped my hand lightly around his strong bicep (not enough to make him stir, but just enough to keep myself from hyperventilating) and watched the clock some more. After the longest 20 minutes of my life, I started breathing easy again, but it was another 30 minutes or so before I finally fell back to sleep.
Relief washed over me at about 8:30 when my girls woke me up (after several hours contraction-free) in their excited frenzy about the new addition to our bedroom. At least if I had gone into labor this morning, our birth pool was ready (thanks to an hour of my husband's time and air last night)...My midwives told me to blow it up three weeks early to make sure it didn't have any holes or other problems, and yesterday marked 37 weeks. Full term, officially.
So it wasn't "pre-term labor" that had me worried last night. It was just that I still thought I had at least one or two weeks left to prepare myself, and my midwives hadn't come to the house for my "home visit" yet, and my primary doula's out of town, and my husband really couldn't take this coming week off from work, and I really wanted my sis-in-law (who's coming to visit April 1-5) to be present for the birth, and, well, I gotta admit... that contraction and the memories that flooded my mind with it gave me a not-so-healthy dose of fear about the pain I'm in for. Sure, I say "I love giving birth!" all the time, and I do, but that love is unique and highly retrospective... and, honestly, I gotta say I'm scared to go to sleep tonight. I'm just not ready yet!
So yeah... I've now officially had my first non-Braxton-Hicks contraction. I remember how surprised I was when I went into labor the first time. I really thought labor would feel like my Braxton-Hicks contractions had... just more painful. But, for me, real labor feels completely different. Braxton-Hicks are all in my belly--just a tightening and hardening of my uterus. I don't even notice a hardening with real labor contractions... just cramp-like pain in my lower back, radiating around to my lower belly. Totally different.
Ah! I can't believe I could have a baby any day!