I'm glad I got that "awe" post out of the way because now my attention is back to immediate concerns.
First, I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and it was the first one where she did more than weigh me, ask me how I'm doing, and ask me to leave a urine sample. (Incidentally, why is leaving a urine sample always last on their minds?! I've taken to just going in and leaving a sample before the doctor calls me so that I don't have to get weighed and questioned while all I'm thinking about is how much I have to pee.)
Anyway, she checked my cervix, telling me that it might hurt a little, and yes indeed it did, but it was quick and I'm sure labor is a thousand times more painful. Afterwards she said, rather breezily, "Well, you're two centimeters dilated, so I would say that you'll probably give birth anywhere from the next two to three days to the next two to three weeks." I said, oh okay, and then, "WHAT?!" Because I had the date of March 15th etched into my brain, as well as the notion that women and supposedly first-time mothers often give birth later than their due date. So I was thinking one to five weeks, with more of an emphasis on three to five weeks from now. Not two to three days!
Now, granted, it's a total guessing game and it really still could be up to five weeks. But it really affected me to hear her say that and I think my voice got all shaky for the rest of the appointment.
Then, continuing to freak me out, she mentioned that she touched the top of the baby's head!! I said feebly, but, uh, isn't there a mucus plug in the way or something? And she said yes, but it's not all that thick. She also pointed out that she was really touching the amniotic sac and not his head directly. Still, I found it amazing, if not a little scary!
So J and I called our families that night to let them know that it could be sooner rather than later. Everyone is on alert now even though, really, it's entirely possible that I'm not going to go into labor before my due date. I've tried to research this online to see whether there is any correlation between dilation and the onset of labor and I can't find anything. I even searched academic journals through Medline. It's possible that I'm horrible at doing keyword searches, but I really couldn't find anything. Basically it sounds like the cervix starts dilating when labor is coming, but I can't find anything about a correlation between when it starts and/or how much it dilates and the timing of the onset of labor. I guess if I wasn't dilated then the doctor wouldn't assume labor was coming soon, but at the same time, I'm not sure that seeing me a little bit dilated really tells us much of anything new.
But of course, this has all made me a bit suggestable to the idea of going into labor sooner rather than later...
The next day I was really drained at work and left on the first shuttle bus I could take home. By the time I got home, I was so tired that I changed my clothes, got into bed to sleep, and tearily called J to tell him I was home (he was still at work). I was so tired I could hardly sleep, but eventually I fell asleep - for half an hour before the doorbell rang. It was Fed Ex delivering our new infant car seat (thanks Mom and Dad!).
Having woken up, I was then really uncomfortable and my lower back was aching a lot. I tried to sit in J's arm chair and watch tv, but I couldn't get comfortable. So I moved to the couch and tried a bunch of positions, and the only one that helped at all was getting on my hands and knees and arching my back, but even that didn't make the pain go away.
Eventually J came home and gave me a back massage, which helped a bit but didn't make it go away. I spent the rest of the evening on the couch very uncomfortable, but trying to relax. Around midnight J suggested we go to bed, and I figured what difference does it make where I'm lying down. But actually, I slept a couple of hours once in bed, until of course, I had to get up to pee.
Now at 2 in the morning, I still had the back pain and I was so frustrated that I decided I was done lying around because it obviously wasn't helping. So I got online and started looking up "back pain" and "third trimester" and after a while, I discovered something called "back labor". I wasn't feeling anything like contractions, but I was looking for any explanation for the prolonged back pain. After reading a bit, I thought, you know if this turns out to be early labor, then I'd better pack a bag for the hospital! So I got up and started gathering all my things, and as I walked around, the back pain seemed perhaps a little bit less but I felt some tightening every now and then in the lower front of my abdomen that kind of felt like menstrual cramps - just as the websites had described!
But nothing worsened and I started to get really tired, so I figured I'd better head back to bed. If I was going to go into labor, I would find out and in the meantime, I'm sure it would be better to sleep. And if it wasn't labor, then I really should just get back to bed. Lying down I continued to feel the back pain and sometimes, the pain in the lower front, but as nothing worsened and I grew sleepier, I just fell asleep. Each time I got up to pee, I didn't feel any better or any worse, and then by the time I woke up for real (around noon - thankfully I'd already made plans to stay home from work on Friday), the back pain was gone.
I talked to a nurse at my doctor's office on Friday (I had to call to make an appointment anyway) and she says it sounds like normal third trimester back pains. Part of me wants some other explanation because that's the first time I've had persistent back pains like that, but at the same time, the pain hasn't come back and I'm not in labor, so she's probably right!
A good result of all of this is that it's giving me the kick in the butt that I need to really get everything ready for the trip to the hospital and our return home with the baby. I have felt like it's still a bit far off, partially because of the due date being in March and partially because our upcoming baby shower isn't until next weekend. So we haven't bought a lot of stuff in the meantime - for example, we don't even have sheets for the crib or bassinet (actually, we don't even have the bassinet for that matter - it's in Florida with J's parents). The less stuff we have out and ready for the baby, the less imminent birth has seemed. And really, it's fine that there are things we still don't have. I'm sure J or my parents could run to the store at some point and pick up the sheets from our registry if it turns out that I give birth tomorrow or something. What's not fine is that we really do have more cleaning / organizing to do, so let's hope I don't go into labor tomorrow!