Thank you for your kindness- truly. Babysteps-- do you have a blog? if so please leave the address in a comment so we can offer you support --and Jamie, I am so sorry you had this for so long. It is truly exhausting emotionally. This means you were dealing with this when I met you and I am so sorry. I know I would not have understood but I would have been sympathetic. It is so darned hard.
I saw the doctor today and here's what I learned:
It is not the strength of these that counts, the back pain, etc, but the frequency-- the gating item, the trigger would be 5 or more per hour that persist after lying down and making sure I'm hydrated. Then I call, then they will see me.
Pre-term contractions (their term for this) are not the same thing as pre-term labor.
Pre-term contractions (or irritable uterus) are in no way related to incompetent cervix. (Mo, this is one of my biggest fears too after two D&Cs and an internet filled with scary stories).
These are incredibly common-- many women have them and don't even know it.
Today they swabbed me for fetal fibronectin -- which came back negative. (This awesome test indicates with high accuracy the probability of delivery in the next two weeks- negative means not much chance which is awesome).
They tested my urine for bacteria since apparently even a little can cause this to be worse--
results back in the next few days after culturing.
They looked at my cervix (yes, an internal peek even with my previa) and it is long and closed.
I told her I was worried about the internal because of my previa and had read that it was a terrible idea, and she said only if I am dilated. And I wasn't but she did not know that until she was in there... but it all turned out fine. No spotting even which surprised me.
My challenge is to manage my stress reaction, and to manage these contractions in a way that feels somewhat ordinary.
Baby steps-- if they don't see a change in the cervix, and in the absence of other bad things (bleeding, leaking fluid), they simply don't take action most of the time. For them it IS ordinary.
Online I read about folks with irritable uterus who are on bedrest, or on medications, on this and that-- and I do not think there is one universal truth-- but I do know this: they scare me, they wear me out and wear me down. I am so worried about losing this little one, having pre term labor so early would be unthinkably horrible. BUT she insisted that this is so normal as to be totally unalarming to them as doctors.
I agree with all of you-- I am trusting my guts and erring in the direction of caution- lying down when I need to to slow things down. Yes, even at work.
If lying down slows things, in some ways it is incredibly affirming of the fact that these are the irritation contractions, not the real thing.
Also, she said an active baby can cause more contractions- and my baby is active all right, so there's that.
And a full bladder can make it worse, so pee before you *have* to-- a totally obnoxious balance of massive hydration and a not-overfull bladder. Ha.
At the end of the exam, she did a nice thing: dopplered my little one and said the heartrate was "perfect"--- and when I asked about how to manage my anxiety, she told me that it was up to me to believe her or not about the ordinariness of the contractions. She has a point.
So I am reassured. I have a long closed cervix and a plan. I will try to learn to manage this with more objectivity than panic. I give myself a 50/50 chance of success with that, but this stress level sucks ass and I need to figure out how to manage it better and regain some semblance of my previous pseudo-zen.
Moonlight through the trees, and me? Off to bed.