At about one o'clock yesterday afternoon, I was thinking to myself, "Gee, I think I'm finally feeling these perfectly normal Braxton-Hicks 'practice' contractions that a majority of pregnant women feel in their last trimester." At five o'clock yesterday evening, I was in the hospital hooked up to a blood pressure monitor, a heart rate monitor for me, a fetal heart rate monitor, and a doo-hickey that measures contractions.
What happened between one and five, you ask, that would cause me to be lying in a hospital bed with so many contraptions and wires hanging off of me that reading a magazine was difficult? Simple. Google. (Before anyone has a heart attack and calls my mom to tell her that I'm probably dying as we speak, everything is great. Baby's great, I'm great, my pee is great. (They checked.))
So I was feeling these sort of crampy little pains, and like I said, I figured they were Braxton-Hicks "practice" contractions. My doctor had asked me at my last appointment whether I had felt any yet, so I was expecting them. I googled the symptoms, and I found out that for most people, they're painless and feel like your uterus bunching up or hardening. Mine were definitely on the painful side, and I didn't really feel any uterus bunching, although honestly, how the hell do I know what a bunched-up uterus feels like? So then I googled some more, about what my symptoms might indicate, and people, I all but got red flashing lights and sirens that told me that I WAS PROBABLY IN LABOR RIGHT NOW.
I was still pretty sure that they were just Braxton Hicks, and that they happened to be painful for me, but I figured I'd call the nurse at the doctor's office anyway. She asked me a bunch of questions like, Have you been exposed to chicken pox lately? and, Have you been stabbing your abdomen with scissors lately? And then, SHE was pretty sure that it was just Braxton Hicks, but she wanted to talk to the doctor just in case. If I called the doctor's office and said, "I'm about 34 weeks pregnant, and I've noticed that my belly has gotten much larger, and I've got these weird movements inside," the nurse would tell me, "It's probably just the infant that you're gestating, but... Did you see Alien, where Kane has weird movements in his abdomen, and then the alien, like, totally rips through his chest and runs off, dripping blood everywhere? It could be that, and we really don't want you to sue us, so we're gonna need you to come in for some tests."
After an hour or so, they determined that I was having weensy little contractions, probably Braxton Hicks, that just happened to be kind of painful for me, and that I could go home. Duh. I think I just figured out what's wrong with health care in America: an explosive combination of people googling symptoms and doctors being deathly afraid of malpractice suits.
If the baby comes out looking like this, though, I am SO suing the hospital.