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Thursday, June 24, 2010


Today I had my first 'false alarm' of this pregnancy...and one of the biggest scares I've had in a long time!

I took my ten year old and his friend to the beach for the day, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The weather was gorgeous, a full 30 degrees cooler at the coast than at my house.  When it was time to go home, I packed up the gear in the car while the boys showered and changed into dry clothes.  Wanna guess who was done first?  Oh yes, even at 6 months pregnant, I can make THREE trips to the car carrying all of our crap before those boys can pull themselves away from a nice warm shower.

So I sat on the bench outside of the restroom to wait for them, and decided to enjoy a quick snack.  I was almost finished eating my almonds when they boys emerged, clean(ish) and dry.  The car was parked about 100 yards away, and we had walked halfway there when something truly bizarre happened: I CHOKED on an almond!

Seriously choked, as in, airway blocked, can't BREATHE, holy crap CHOKED.  I coughed in an attempt to dislodge the almond, and simultaneously peed my pants a little (amazing, since I had JUST been to the restroom 5 minutes prior, and would have sworn that my bladder was empty).  I stopped walking and coughed again - and peed my pants a little more. 

By the third cough, I had a sudden memory from CPR class... you know how they always say not to attempt the Heimlich maneuver on a pregnant woman?  I panicked a little, because in addition to my son and his friend finally realizing that I wasn't walking with them (they had gone about 10 steps ahead by now but had turned around and were looking at me funny) there were a couple of Marines nearby loading gear into a car, and they both looked ready to run to my rescue.

So that third cough (and third gush of pee....sorry if this is TMI but I was coughing THAT hard to try to clear my airway) was followed quickly by a fourth one, which was also accompanied by a loud and very embarrassing gag/burp combo that finally moved the almond - at about the same time that my son figured out that he should be worried about me.

I was really panicked by the inability to breathe, but was even more scared that someone would 'save' me, but in doing so would harm the baby.  Crazy, right? 

As soon as I could breathe I started walking again - FAST - and when we got to the car I threw a towel on the seat so I could sit down in my now-pretty-darned-wet pants.  I wished I had extra clothes with me, but knew I could make do until I got home.  I cleared my throat a lot and chugged some water before I reassured the boys that I was fine, and I drove toward home.

This is where it got REALLY fun....

The drive from this particular beach to my house takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on traffic.  About 20 minutes into the drive, I noticed a persistent cramping sensation....kind of like the braxton hicks contractions I have been 'enjoying' for several weeks, only, well, PAINFUL.  At first I figured I must have pulled an abdominal muscle with all that forceful coughing.  It wouldn't be the first time that's happened.  But soon I saw a real pattern in the pain.....a FIVE MINUTUES APART pattern!  Yikes.


I kept driving, knowing that I needed to get to my own doctor or hospital if this was something serious, and hoping the whole time that it was nothing.  By the time we got home, the contractions were TWO minutes apart, and the pain had increased...though I suspected that the heightened pain was at least partially due to my very full bladder.  That water that I had chugged after choking an hour earlier was virtually sloshing around in there.

On a scale of one to ten, ten being actual childbirth, the pain was probably at a 4 at this point, and when I ran waddled inside my house to pee, it dropped to a 3....but continued, every two minutes. I knew already that if I called my OB, she would ask me lie down for 20 minutes to see if the contractions would stop, so I decided to go ahead and try this without calling her.  I remembered the cool apps on my iPad for timing contractions, so I took my iPad to bed and held still as much as I could....focusing on relaxing.

(duration of contractions shows on the left, and frequency of contractions on the right)

The first 20 minutes of this saw no change, and I had a sudden fear that the gush of 'pee' I had felt when I choked *might* have been amniotic fluid.  Would I know if my water broke?  The only time my water ever broke before was with #2, and it was a slight high leak.....but I knew what it was, even then.  Just when I was about to pick up the phone and call my OB, my friend called me.  I told her what was going on and she talked to me for a few minutes, noting how hard it was for me to talk during the short contractions....I talked to her for almost fifteen minutes, during which time the contractions finally began to spread apart a little.

Two breaks of almost 4 minutes each, and then another 2 minute cycle, but the actual contractions seemed to be getting shorter, too.  I finally told my friend that I was going to try to nap - knowing that if I could SLEEP through them, then they were definitely not 'the real thing'.  I hung up the phone and went into some good relaxation techniques, and another contraction hit.

I pressed the 'begin' button on the labor tracker app.

And woke up about 8 minutes later to the sound of my dog barking. 

Yes, I actually FELL ASLEEP mid-contraction, and never stopped the app!  It's funny, there is a graph showing the pattern of contractions, most of them 25 to 40 seconds long, and then the one where I fell asleep showed 506 seconds long!  Dang, that would have been one SERIOUS contraction.  So glad it was just me dozing off!  After that I timed a few more, happy to see that they were much milder and becoming shorter and more sporadic.

Since my OB's office waas now closed for the day, I chose not to bother her answering service over what I now know was a false alarm.  I will call in the morning and let her know what happened, in case she needs to see me before my next appointment.

But, if you've read the birth stories I posted (check the archives if you missed these) then you know that I have BEEN to this circus before.  A FEW TIMES.  False labor is just another part of pregnancy for me!  This is the first time I've ever had anything THIS INTENSE happen THIS EARLY in pregnancy, but at least I know I can deal with it.

And in the future, these able-bodied boys are carrying all the beach gear to the car.  And of course, no more eating and walking at the same time.  In fact, I may just boycott almonds altogether.

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