BabyDumpling was due on May 13, 2017. The day passed uneventfully in our dumpling family. And the next day, and the next day, and the next.
On May 16, 2017, I had an appointment with my OB. They gave me an ultrasound to check if everything was all right with the baby. It was. Everything looked healthy, I was just overdue, which is pretty common for the first child. I still hadn’t had a single contraction, and didn’t feel like the baby was coming out any time soon. I could easily imagine BabyDumpling coming out a full week late.
At the ultrasound, they estimated that her weight was 8.5 lbs. This terrified me. Babies gain weight very quickly towards the end of the pregnancy, which meant if BabyDumpling was another few days late, she could easily be 9 lbs at birth. That is a lot of baby to push out! My OB didn’t quite believe the estimate from the ultrasound, insisting that based on the measurement of my belly, my baby was likely around 7.5 lbs, “unless she’s very tightly packed in there,” my OB joked (turned out she kind of was).
My OB gave me a cervical exam and determined that I was now 3cm dilated. Full dilation, which is when you are ready to start pushing, is 10cm. 3cm is a lot to be dilated without feeling a thing. Both my mother and mother-in-law had gone into labor with 0cm dilated, and every 1cm dilation took over an hour of painful contractions. So, they were understandably confused and jealous that I was somehow already 3cm without feeling any pain.
During the cervical exam, my OB asked me if I wanted a membrane sweep. It is basically the doctor making a “sweeping” motion with her fingers during a cervical exam across the membrane or sac holding the baby, which is believed to help release natural hormones that may trigger labor. She told me it might result in spotting (light bleeding) and some pain. It’s not guaranteed to work, but I decided to give it a try.
A few hours later, I immediately regretted my decision. As soon as I got home, I started to feel a lot of pain. And it wasn’t contraction pain, it was just constant pain in my lower abdomen, like a period pain. And it seemed like a lot of blood was coming out considering that she had described it as “spotting.” Worried that this may not be normal, I turned to Google, and found other women describing the pain I was feeling after a membrane sweep. Some had it for 24-36 hours and they didn’t even go into labor. 24-36 hours?! I did not want to feel this way for that long, especially if it wasn’t even going to get me into labor.
I decided to take a shower, as warm water is said to help with some of the pain, while I cursed my OB. Then, halfway through the shower, I noticed the pain changed. It was no longer constant. It seemed to come and go. Could they be… contractions? I couldn’t be sure, I could barely feel them, and they were still in the same spot as the “period pains,” whereas I had been told that contractions would hurt across your whole belly, including your lower back, and were unmistakable. These seemed… mistakable.