Two months ago today, I was having severe pain in my lower back that hooked around my right side/hip with no idea of its cause. It lasted for hours, sometimes in waves, but mostly constant. Eventually, I would end up at the hospital for it, but I sure didn’t know that when I woke up that morning. It had actually started two days before, but I had assumed it was just normal pregnancy stuff and when it disappeared by the following day, I didn’t even mention it to my midwife at my routine appointment.
On the day of severe pain, I was a few days shy of being 28 weeks pregnant. I had been enjoying a fairly contraction-free pregnancy so far, having only four or five per day during the second trimester, which was a welcome change from my experience with Samuel (at least 15-20 a day). So, when I started having really regular Braxton-Hicks contractions in the afternoon, I was not happy. They weren’t painful, but they were regular and I was already in so much pain from my back that it was hard to tell what was what. I used an app to measure the frequency of the contractions and they were under five minutes apart. Now, I knew from all the b/h I’d had with Samuel that I am capable of having them that close together without it leading to labor, or even dilation, but you never know. Even though all the websites that talk about pre-term labor were recommending that I get to a doctor or hospital, I knew they are just erring on the side of caution so I didn’t call.
What IS this?
By the time the contractions had been going on for over an hour, and I had become nauseous from the severity of the back pain, I knew something was really wrong. I had looked up my symptoms online during that hour and had found only one thing I thought it could be: kidney stones. Apparently, if you do have kidney stones while pregnant, they can actually irritate the uterus to the point of causing contractions, and even labor. Oops! I called my husband, Stephen, and he told me to call the midwives right away and let him know what they thought I should do. He was at a jobsite (he works in concrete), but he’d leave and come home if necessary.
To the Hospital
I rang the office and the midwife on call wanted me to head to the hospital as soon as I could. It was surreal to hear her tell me to go to labor and delivery when I still had three months left until my due date. I called my mom to see if she’d come over and hang out with Maggie and Samuel while Stephen, Joshua, and I went to the hospital. She got to my house at about 5:45 and Stephen got home at six. We left, but the pain had nearly stopped at that point, making me wonder if there was even any reason for going. I googled again to see if kidney stone pain could come and go and the answer was yes. I decided I’d go in anyway because I was still contracting. The drive there was interesting.
I was hooked up to a monitor at the hospital and they were quite surprised that I was indeed having contractions, and they were coming every two minutes. My doctor came in and we talked about my symptoms from the day (even ones that I was no longer having) and what the plan was. She wanted to:
- run a urinalysis (to look for blood and/or infection)
- swab for fetal fibronectin (which can indicate that a woman may go into pre-term labor if it’s positive, but a negative result gives a reliable indication that she won’t)
- do an ultrasound on my kidneys
- perform a cervical exam (to check for dilation, and measure thickness and length)
The tests showed that both kidneys had multiple stones, there was trace blood in my urine (but no infection), the fetal fibronectin test was negative, and my cervix was still closed, thick and long. So, everything pointed to me having passed at least one kidney stone recently. This was very good news because it explained the pain, and infection and preterm labor were ruled out.
During the two hours we were there, my contractions slowly spaced out to being more like 5-6 minutes apart, and since they weren’t causing dilation, I was allowed to go home. I was basically told to drink tons of water, rest, and get an appointment with a urologist sometime soon. Oh, and if anything changed, to call or come back in.
Since then, I’ve had three more kidney stone episodes, and I’ve gone in to the office to be checked out, but not back to the hospital. I started dilating at 32 weeks, but baby’s still fine and inside today at 37w2d.
Moral of the Story?
If you’re having unexplained pain, get it checked out! I have been very fortunate to be able to carry her to term even though I’ve had a condition that causes lots of uterine irritation, and subsequent contractions. And if I HAD gone into preterm labor, they could have potentially stopped it, but only by me showing up and letting them know what was going on. Pregnancy isn’t a medical condition, but you can have medical conditions during pregnancy that require attention. ;)
Asthma and My Boys