Well, two days ago, I felt different. As in, noticeably more uncomfortable throughout the day. Nauseated, even. That night, I had a contraction so strong it woke me from a deep sleep. It really hurt. I actually felt like the bed was shaking, and reached over to feel whether Aaron was breathing strangely or something, only to realize he was lying perfectly still. The bed wasn't shaking -- I was. I breathed deeply for the minute or two the contraction went on (it felt longer), asking myself if I felt pain in my back, as I haven't with the Braxton Hicks but expect to during labor. I couldn't really tell, but this thing, in a word... hurt.
I got up, wandered around, somewhat panicked (thinking, We haven't had our home visit yet! We're not set up. The cleaners aren't coming until next Thursday. Where the hell is my phone? I'm in the middle of a piece of writing. Is this happening? I haven't gotten a breast pump yet, or ten spare towels, or extra-thick maxi pads... and so on). I eventually found my phone, and called my midwife. She was in New York, where she'd flown to deliver her best friend's baby before flying back to deliver mine. (I have another amazing midwife here on backup, too, so our bases are covered.) I asked if I woke her, and she said she was actually at her friend's birth as we spoke. When I described what I'd felt (specifically, "It hurt like a motherf*cker"), she told me it could very well be the start of labor, but maybe not. The best thing to do would be to go back to sleep; if the contractions woke me again, and became regular, I should call her.
I went back to bed and lay there, clinging to Aaron. He asked if I was okay, and I told him about the contraction. "I'm scared," I said.
He answered, "You've done this before."
"I don't think we're ready."
"We're ready... Do you think it's happening now?"
"I don't know. Brielle said to go back to sleep."
I lay awake for a while, my mind racing, trying to breathe slowly and calm down, prepare for the next contraction, which never came. Instead, baby kicked around in my belly and I eventually fell asleep.
I'm surprised by my response to that contraction. I've been feeling totally ready for labor, and actually looking forward to it, even to the pain. But it was the pain that panicked me. Being awaked was probably a part of that -- I was just sort of disoriented -- but I think that contraction was a bit of a wake-up call in more ways than one, a reminder that labor pain is... seriously intense. Having had a chance to process that brief encounter with real pain, however, the kind of pain that's all-absorptive while it's happening, that shakes a room, I now really DO feel ready. I'm grateful for that little warm-up. I know I'm going to experience pain, and likely fear. But I'm not going to run away from either experience. (Because of the type of blood thinner injections I'm on, too, I don't even have the option of an epidural, even if I were to freak out and think I needed one.) Instead, I'm going to walk into this. That, after all, will be the only way through.
As far as feeling different goes, my midwife texted me yesterday to check in. She said to call her any time if I get spooked, but the go-to game-time rule remains regularity, with intensity. I said again that I wonder if I'll second-guess it, when labor's real, because of these warm-ups, because things feel different already. She texted back, "You'll know."