Dumplin’: 38 Weeks Gestation- A Quick Update

Hi Friends. Things continue to be rough, with no end in sight, in the mamaetmaman household. I am finding it difficult to blog for long periods of time due to the ongoing discomfort, but I thought I’d give you an update.

So every night since Sunday night, I’ve been experiencing this excruciating pain originating from my left flank region, which travels down my back and wraps around to the left side of my belly. The pain is dull when it’s not active, but when it is active, it feels like squeezing and stabbing at the same time. The pain becomes active when I lay down- very quickly escalating if I lay on my left side (side of the pain), and flat on my back (it almost feels swollen on that side), and less quickly escalating but still escalating if I lay on my right side. Rarely, the pain becomes active when I’m sitting, and in fact is often alleviated before it becomes very active by sitting up and standing. Once the pain is active, there’s nothing that alleviates it- it just plays out for lengths of time varying from 3-7 minutes. The time in between active sessions varies greatly from 3 minutes to many hours, but more frequent at night because of the laying down aspect.

Now, on Tuesday, the pain was so bad that I decided it was not safe for me to drive to my midwife appointment, so the on-call midwife came over to do an assessment at our home. She checked my cervix for dilation- cervix was still posterior, intact but softened, and opened only to about 1cm. So I wasn’t in active labour. She listened to Dumplin’s heart rate, which was normal. She didnt know what was causing these back contractions, and thought that maybe it was from tight muscles, which made me feel very discouraged and dismissed. I am a chiropractor. I know what a pulled or tight muscle feels like, and this on-and-off intermittent pain pattern doesn’t make sense. She then told me to get some Ibuprofen (and some Rantidine for the stomach effects of Ibuprofen), and proceeded to pack up. 

That same day, I had a massage with a doula/midwife who also assessed me, and thought it could be back labour. She guided me through three contractions as they came on while we were working through some muscles in my back. My muscles weren’t particularly tight, and she felt and saw my uterus contract over Dumplin’ when I was having an active back moment. 

Then I had a chiropractor colleague come over and also assess and treat me. Nothing remarkable about my musculoskeletal system. We also did some induction acupuncture. 

The next couple of days have followed the same kind of pattern: me moaning and crying several times throughout the night due to these back contractions. Me trying different sleeping positions and failing to find one that works, and trying to sleep upright in a chair because it hurts less. Overall cumulative nighttime sleep is about 2 hours. During the day, I am a lot more comfortable because I’m standing and walking, and NOT laying down. I’m even able to go on walks with DW and the dogs. 

On Wednesday I had a repeat ultrasound, and it turns out that Dumplin’s amniotic fluid has increased a bit (which is great), and that he is no longer left-occiput-anterior, but is now exactly occiput posterior or “sunny side up” (which sucks). So I’ve been doing some recommended exercises from Spinning Babies, in hopes of turning him again. 

Last night, night four of no sleep, I fell asleep sitting up in a couch chair, but woke up to a terrible squeezing chest pain and shortness of breath. It scared the bejesus outta me, and made me want to go to the hospital emergency to be checked out. I woke up DW, told her I wanted to go to the ER, and we talked out the different ways that this could play out. We decided that today, we’d get a bean bag chair for me to create into a wedge to help me sleep upright, and if the back and chest pain persisted tomorrow night, that we’d then go to the ER. Why the ER? Because I want some answers. I want to know if these are back contractions, kidney stones, or something else. Having unexplained pain of this calibre is not good for me or for Dumplin’. To be honest, if they offered me a c-section, I’d happily take it right now. To hell with my home birth plan- I’m too tired and out of patience to fight anymore.

So right now, the four days and nights of no sleep and excruciating unexplainable pain has me at my wit’s end. All I want to do at 38 weeks pregnant is lie down and rest, and I can’t even do that. 

Back Labour?

Last night was a sleepless one in the mamaetmaman household. Starting last Tuesday, I noticed a slight tight spot in my left quadratus lumborum muscle during a pregnancy massage I was receiving. Since then, the tightness has morphed into a dull ache in my left lower back for a couple of days, but not constant- it comes and goes. Yesterday during the day, I noticed it linger for 20-30 minutes then go away for a couple of hours, and then start up again for 20-30 minutes, and then go away again. 

But last night- things changed.

Last night, the achy tightening became a searing pain in my left-sided lower back that also reached forward and caused a debilitating squeezing pain in my left belly. Each “contraction” lasted about 4-5 minutes, and then backed off for and irregular period of time- sometimes 9 minutes, sometimes an hour, but mostly in 15 minute intervals. 

I was moaning, wimpering, crying my eyes out. I tried bouncing on my exercise ball, leaning forward on the bed and swaying my hips, squatting, cat-cow on all fours, and DW did some counter-pressure and deep massage on my back and sacrum. The positional changes helped a little bit, but mostly with distracting from the pain. DW’s counter-pressure helped a lot, some of the time. The pain ranged in intensity, but was always between an 7-9/10 on my perceived pain scale. I puked twice from the pain.

We were so tired that I’m between contractions, we’d get back into bed and try to catch some zzz’s. But with 15 minute intervals between contractions, you can imagine how much sleep we really got. 

Also- the contractions are much worse when I’m laying down (on my sides- I don’t lay on my back anymore). When I’m standing, they don’t seem to start. But it’s so hard because I’m so tired from propping myself up and changing positions, that all I want to do is lay down and sleep. 

We finished packing up some last pieces for our hospital bag (mostly clothes because I’m wearing the same 3 Lululemon pants pretty much everyday), and DW has been working on lesson plans to leave for th substitute teachers if she has to take tomorrow off work. 

I’m trying to keep busy by finishing up some items on my “To Do” list. First thing is padsicles. 

It feels like Dumplin’s birth is gonna happen soon. I wasn’t anticipating this back labour though, because at last check, baby boy was left occiput anterior, and not in a typical position to cause back labour. I’ve read that back labour can happen regardless of position though. I’m not sure what to expect of its progression. I’m trying to time the contractions but they’re not showing any progression. I haven’t called the midwives yet because of this. But last night, all the Hypnobirthing breathing and visualizations went out the window, and I was wishing for an epidural. My own moaning and breathing cadence seemed to calm me a bit, but totally freaked DW out because they were sounds of pain. 

Having been sitting up and standing for a while now, I haven’t had any back labour, so who knows where this is going. All I know is that something is happening, and all I wanna do is sleep!