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The Un-Birth Story Part 2

Yes, you read that right. I spent another night in the hospital in labour and then was sent home with baby still in my belly! It’s hard to know how many details to share and what to keep private, but I’ll do my best to walk the tightrope of discretion.

I’ve had contractions on and off for nearly 3 weeks now which really isn’t that uncommon and in fact, having braxton hicks for almost the entire duration of all five of my pregnancies is normal for me, and completely harmless. They don’t hurt, they don’t change my cervix (moving me toward labour and delivery too soon) and they’re totally manageable (they stop if I change positions, hydrate, etc). Prodromal labour, which is what I am having this time, is completely new to me. Prodromal labour does change the cervix but only the tiniest, slightest, little bit and the kicker is that prodromal labour contractions feel like the real thing while braxton hicks are completely painless. Prodromal contractions do all the things that regular contractions do, not unlike what premenstrual cramps do: cause spotting, stimulate the bowel, heaviness/pressure in the pelvis, initiate low backache. While braxton hicks are usually easy to sleep through, prodromal contractions are not.

So you can imagine that a woman dealing with days, weeks, even months of prodromal labour contractions can easily become physically and emotionally exhausted. They’re much more susceptible to being induced (on the grounds of utter exhaustion) bringing on higher rates of further intervention such as assisted deliveries and caesarean sections. Nobody knows for sure what causes prodromal labour, but the most probable theories are poor fetal positioning for birth (the body is slowly working the baby into optimal position with each contraction), and emotional blocks/stress.

I had written a post about how I felt like I had an emotional block, and that this was the reason for my prodromal labour but last night at the hospital, I learned about the most likely reason for all of these contractions!

A few years ago, after I had Katie and before I had Callum, I had a PAP test that came back abnormal. I was sent into Vancouver for a biopsy of my cervix which came back showing that I had cancerous cells and would need them removed through a small operation called the LEEP procedure, which pretty much just burns the cancer cells off the cervix. After I was treated, I went for follow-up PAP tests and have since then had perfectly normal test results putting me at an equal risk of cervical cancer as any other woman. Which is great! Except I learned last night that LEEP causes scar tissue, which can make cervical dilation difficult, which totally explains why Callum’s labour and delivery, my fourth, was the longest, most painful, most involved birth I had experienced. Not only did my cervix not dilate with my own body’s natural contractions, it had difficulty dilating with a synthetic hormone called Pitocin, a drug used to induce labour that causes insanely intense uterine contractions. My body wouldn’t even respond to that strong drug, and so the doctors had to keep upping the levels of Pitocin while monitoring Callum’s ability to recover from each contraction.

THIS is why I am thankful for my athleticism because I have no doubt that my fitness attributed to my ability to withstand hours and hours of intense labour on a scarred cervix with zero pain medication. I am no hero, and some people might even call me an idiot, but at the end of the day(s), I did it, and Callum was born vaginally, and healthy.

Despite all of my contractions (among other signs of labour and delivery), my cervix is still sitting at 3cm dilated, 80% effaced. Sure, it’s frustrating and yes, I’m exhausted, but I’m taking each day at a time. The baby is healthy, I am healthy, and he will come when he comes. I may need Pitocin eventually, and I’ve come to terms with it (I had 12 hours straight of quiet contemplation last night while contracting on my side in the hospital bed), and delivery day will have to be sooner than later because of my age and other factors. So, I’m just hanging in there and getting as much rest as possible!

It’s a relief to finally know the reason for all of these contractions with minimal progression and honestly, if I can put a positive spin on this, my cervical scarring may have even stopped me from having the baby at 36 weeks, allowing him to stay cozy in my womb and develop further. So, there ya go. Perspective is everything.

Here is a picture I snapped just before left for the hospital:

And here is a photo that Andrew took of me during the hours where we were sure we would be meeting our baby!

I hope I’m not boring the majority of you with all of my labour drama! I promise I’ll be back to myself soon.

Have you guys ever had an abnormal pap test? Or know of anyone that had one?

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Amy Lauren August 26, 2017, 7:21 pm

    I actually have not had any abnormal tests but a LOT of women do. So sorry you went to the hospital and were sent home still with the baby in your belly and not outside of it though! I will admit the pic of you sitting in the bed is a cute one, you just look smiling and ready to go even if the baby wasn’t.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 26, 2017, 8:13 pm

      Andrew was SO EXCITED, and we told our kids and everything. So, I feel bad about that but at the same time, the most important thing is a healthy outcome, and even though these days and weeks feel long, they’re but a blip on our timeline of life!

  • Una August 26, 2017, 7:52 pm

    Just,,,9oo,9,,9o9999999n

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 26, 2017, 8:12 pm

      I feel like you get me.

    • Una August 26, 2017, 8:21 pm

      Uh, thanks for that, Olivia.

      I had a pap test that came back as abnormal before I got pregnant, and they scheduled me for a colposcopy because the cells were “high grade.” Between being scheduled and the colposcopy, however, I got pregnant. They decided to take a look anyway, so I got to see my cervix, up close and personal! (Seriously, having to do a vaginal ultrasound at my dating ultrasound and then the colposcopy at 6 months which they put on a monitor for me, it was like”The Fantastic Voyage of Una’s Lady Parts.”)

      After Olivia’s birth, instead of having a pap at 6 weeks, I was scheduled for another colposcopy. We had hoped that Olivia’s passage through my birth canal would slough off the irregular cells, but no such luck. I needed to go through the LEEP procedure, and have some lasering done.

      I’ve had 3 paps since then, every 6 months, and been released from the Women’s Clinic, so I can go back to my own figure my doctor now for paps. When I first got to the Women’s Clinic at the Foothills Medical Centre, the nurse there told me that “they would take care of my vagina.” Also, there were jugs of Heinz white vinegar all over the place, which is what they spritz on you to see the cells

      • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 27, 2017, 11:21 pm

        OH MY! Your vagina is popular! Pregnancy has a way of messing up the cervix physically but also hormonally too. I heard that being pregnant can multiply the cancer cells or something like that. How NOT cool. I’m glad everything is okay now though, although the white vinegar bit is weird. You probably feel like a human plate of fish n chips.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes August 26, 2017, 10:46 pm

    I am just glad you and the baby are healthy, but I also hope your next hospital trip brings him home! My last pap was abnormal and I am getting retested this week and panicking a bit. I am not excited about it because pap smears hurt and give me low back pain and bad cramping for a couple days… I thought that was normal until my abnormal pap, when the cramping was so severe I could barely move. My doctor thinks it’s scar tissue from endometriosis that makes paps so painful. I hope your pregnancy finishes well and you get to meet your boy soon!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 27, 2017, 11:19 pm

      I messaged you on FB!

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets August 27, 2017, 9:48 am

    Hang in there momma. The end is in sight. A difficult pregnancy means easy labor, yes? I like to think so.

    Also, I had the LEEP procedure years ago, and the entire month after was awful. Never again, unless of course I have to but still, damn.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 27, 2017, 11:18 pm

      Yeah, I kinda blocked it out for the most part. YIKES. Super common though, so I hear. But back then I had no idea–I felt like I was the only one!

  • jade August 27, 2017, 10:49 am

    I also had an abnormal pap test years ago and had the LEEP procedure done. This happened after I had my 2 kids so it was really interesting to learn about the resulting scar tissue you had and how Callum’s labour was so intense. I love the pic of you just before leaving for the hospital, you are ALL baby!! I think he is feeling way too comfy in there and will come out when he’s good and ready. 🙂

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 27, 2017, 11:17 pm

      The LEEP procedure is so common! I hadn’t heard of it before when I had it done so I was really scared and upset about it but now that I know how common it is, I feel like it’s important to talk about the whole post-LEEP birth experience! I had actually assumed it would be the OTHER way around–that the LEEP would have compromised the integrity of my cervix so that it would dilate too early/miscarry/preterm birth. But….nope. Not that I know of, anyway.

  • Susie @ Suzlyfe August 28, 2017, 6:08 am

    Good golly miss molly. You are such a fucking champion. Talk about a hard last few miles of a marathon!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 28, 2017, 6:45 am

      This is totally what it feels like!

  • Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com August 29, 2017, 7:55 am

    Question: I believe my sister had the same LEEP procedure… is this you experience with giving birth vaginally after that common among people who have had that? Not that I want to scare her, but preparing her, or just informing her would be the sisterly things to do <3

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 31, 2017, 6:50 pm

      Yes, it’s common! I had NO idea and in fact I assumed it would be the OTHER way around–compromise the integrity of the cervix to the point of incompetence. But no! So, yeah. Inform her for sure. A lot of midwives will know more about massaging the scar tissue (manually breaking it down which hurts like a son of a bitch) whereas doctors are more into the whole “force it open with pitocin and have an epidural and when it doesn’t work just c-section” procedure.

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