**** WARNING: This blog entry may be graphic ... I am really not sure yet, but I wanted to give you a heads up just in case ;-) ****
Today's doctor visit was quite the exciting one. After spending yesterday dealing with back labor and other pains for almost 9 hours I was praying that my cervix had made some progress in the dilation area. If the doctor did an exam today and told that my cervix was still completely closed I probably would have cried. Nobody should have to go through all that cramping and throbbing pain and discomfort for nothing!
So the doctor did an internal exam, which is always pleasant :-/ and gave me the good news ... I am dilated 3cm and 50% effaced. So I am well on my way. Just in case pregnancy is new for you: You need to be 10cm dilated before you start pushing the baby out. Of course there is no way to know where you are without an internal exam, but chances are that you will already be laboring fast and hard before you get to 6cm or 7cm ... don't quote me on that one, just because I do believe it is different for everyone. I think some women even get admitted to the labor and delivery ward at 5cm ... so I suppose it really depends on whether or not you waters have broken and what your contractions are like.
Effacement was something I had never heard of until a few months ago. This is the thinning of your cervix. So with mine being 50% effaced, it means that mine is half the thickness that it was to start with. But before your cervix starts to efface, it goes through a period of softening.
There is no set time for any of this process ... every single woman and every single pregnancy is completely different. This can all happen over a few days, a few weeks or even a few months! ... For me it all happened within 2 weeks. So those were two pieces of good news :)
Since I am 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant, my doctor offered me the option of having my membranes stripped (aka sweeping). Since it can be quite painful and uncomfortable (as are internal exams right now because James is putting so much pressure on my nether region) I said that we could revisit that idea when he was in there checking my cervix ... sorry, this is where it gets graphic :-/
I ended up deciding on a yes. I figured whats 5 more seconds of pain and discomfort if it brings the pregnancy to a happy end. So in a nut shell (if this is new to you), the doctor basically sticks one finger inside your cervix (so into your uterus) and gently ... though it didn't feel very gentle ... removes part of the membrane from the inside wall of the uterus. By doing this a hormone is released that makes the uterus think that you are in labor and can start the contractions. For more information: http://www.midwife.org/ACNM/files/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000000669/Stripping%20Membranes.pdf
Unfortunately stripping your membranes is not a guarantee. It will work if your body is already getting ready for labor. But after hearing all of my symptoms from the past week he decided that it was definitely worth a shot for me. If it does work then labor will kick in within 24-48 hours after the stripping. Though some women go into labor as soon as during the night because they are relaxed, or the next morning after a good night's sleep. I am very much hoping that the procedure worked for me because I don't want to be induced (that would happen at 41wks 6 days ... so April 28th) and I really don't want to be pregnant for that long!
The last thing that the doctor told me was that all the cramping etc that I am feeling is no longer false labor. He strongly believes that it is early labor now that I am 3cm. So that's awesome :) Though early labor can last for a few days.
Since the doctor visit today I have been quite uncomfortable with cramping and some pain near the cervix etc. I have also had some bleeding which is normal. So I cleaned the house a little bit to keep moving and stay distracted. I also showered which made me feel tons better (the doctor's exam made me sweat!).
So with any luck, my next post will be a while from now and it will be about the birth of our little boy :) Unless I feel the urge to blog during labor .... yeah, probably not going to happen. ;-)