Irritable Uterus

I’m having contractions. Lots of contractions.  But it’s fine– or at least it’s fine for now, and I suspect it will remain fine– as I have a condition called “Irritable Uterus” which basically means that I contract all the time, but the contractions are not causing me to go into labor.

Whew, huh?

I think so.

However, it’s also nerve-wracking.  I have frequent doctor’s appointments to measure the length of my cervix, just to be sure that nothing is “happening” in that department.  So far so good.  AND my doctor prefers to do abdominal ultra sounds to measure (instead of the Pants-Off Variety), so for that I could pretty much kiss him.  So far, ye ol’ cervix remains well within the “safe” range, so we’re just keeping an eye on things.  However, since I’m 18 weeks, baby isn’t viable yet and won’t be for weeks, so these contractions NEED to remain of the “harmless” variety. (How many times can a person use “so” in a paragraph?  I think I must have a record.)

IU is usually a benign condition that doesn’t lead to preterm labor.  The contractions are constant– I have them every time I stand up, have to pee, walk fast, walk up or down stairs, or stand up for a long time.  Getting any real exercise seems pretty much out of the question, as my uterus gets so tight I can’t stand up straight or lift my legs to take the next step.  I even have them while sitting still and sleeping (strong enough to wake me up), especially if it’s been a busy day.

The nerve-wracking part is that how will I know if/when they change from this harmless “irritable uterus” state to signs of actual-factual preterm labor?  Mostly, I feel calm that that’s not going to happen, but days when I’m contracting almost constantly make me start to doubt.  It’s also frustrating to not be able to move around normally without discomfort.  The contractions don’t hurt, per se, but it’s tight and uncomfortable.  My doctor is wonderful about it all, always reminding me that if I need to come in between my already frequent appointments “just to reassure myself”, he’s happy to see me.  He even said “if they tell you I don’t have any openings, you tell them that I do for you.”  So at least he’s supportive (unlike some OB’s that apparently think the patient is MAKING IT UP, enough that the tagline on this website is “It’s not in your head.” I can’t even imagine being treated that way.)

Not being able to go out for a nice long walk is driving me a little nuts, I’ll be honest.  After hibernating (and barfing, have I mentioned all the barfing?  Just once or twice?) all winter, I’m ready to MOVE. MY. BODY.  We’ve been compromising with shorter, slow walks, and it’s better than nothing, I suppose.  It’s certainly better than bedrest.  I feel like my body is turning to mush, but at least it’s in the name of growing a human, right?

I don’t have any activity restrictions other than “listen to your body.”  So basically, if I’m trying to go for a walk and contracting like a sumbitch?  Slow down.  Or better yet, STOP.  Beyond respecting what the body is saying, patients with IU do not need bedrest (unless the condition transforms into actual preterm labor, of course).  (Preterm labor is defined as the cervix shortening, softening, effacing, and/or dilating in preparation for labor.  Since by definition IU patients don’t have any cervical changes, they are not considered in preterm labor.)

While I’m unloading here about my pregnancy woes, I should also mention that I’ve also had a terrible time sleeping lately.  I don’t think it’s related to IU.  I have no problem falling asleep, but I’ve been waking around 2ish and not being able to fall back to sleep until 5-5:30.  I’m not upset or worried about anything; my brain is just awake.  I usually have zero problems sleeping (wow, people with chronic insomnia… I bow to thee), but being over-tired is making me feel easily overwhelmed all day.

Basically, I’m a blast to be around, is what I’m saying.

So!  That’s what’s been going on around here.  You?

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21 thoughts on “Irritable Uterus

  1. Oh, scary! I like to think that you will know the difference when the time comes, just as you are able to tell that these contractions are due to IU rather than standard Braxton Hicks, you know? But I’m so sorry–how stressful to be experiencing contractions already at 18 weeks! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that they stay harmless for another 20 weeks or so.

    • Thanks, Jess. Actually, IU contractions are basically Braxton Hicks, but earlier and more frequent than the normal person. This whole thing actually started for me at 13 weeks! But it was much milder then. (I also had IU with Marin, but much later- 28ish weeks. And much more mild.)

      My dr and I both think that I’ll be able to tell if they change into the “real thing.” However, neither of us wants to miss anything either, so that’s why I’m having frequent visits. JUST TO BE SURE. Like I said, I usually pretty calm that it’s all fine. I don’t let the “what if’s” win very much. 🙂

  2. It’s always something, right? I went today (I’m 14 weeks) and of effing course they couldn’t find the heartbeat. I have had anterior placentas the last few times and now my uterus is tilted so – an ultrasound it was. FIRST the internal variety (?) and then when that was no good, the abdominal kind. Why I had take my pants off, I’m still not sure. Anyways, I am posting to say that those contractions must be a pain, I had no idea about them. I hope that you would know, too, that it was something more real but in the meantime I guess enjoy the ultrasounds?

      • Oh jeez, sorry, yes! 175 beats per minute, it was v. reassuring. Of course, that tech could not have BEEN more laid back and slow. At one point, and I am not kidding, she sort of put her elbows on my knees and held her chin in her hand as she talked, BEFORE I could see the babe and the heartbeat. It’s going to be a long 26 more weeks!

  3. Lordy. So sorry that your pregnancy has had more than it’s fair share of woe.

    (Though I think “Irritable Uterus” could make for an awesome band name!)

  4. I had IU with both of my pregnancies. That’s how I ended up on bedrest both times. I can’t promise that YOU will know the difference between IU “harmless” contractions and pre-term labor contractions, but I did. There’s a difference. Really.

    I’m glad you’ve got the energy to write again!

    • I’m pretty sure I’ll know the difference too. But I’m also worried I’ll miss something, go in at 20 weeks and find out I’m 2cm or some shit. Ya know? But MOSTLY, I’m sure these are harmless.

      (Boo for bedrest!)

  5. Oh man, pregnancy insomnia and IU? yeesh. I had pregnancy insomnia in only one of my pregnancies and it was miserable, but thankfully short lived. Hopefully yours is too.

  6. Oh, man. I am also on my third pregnancy and I also have IU, but I can’t even imagine it starting at 13 weeks! It started around 30 weeks with my second, and around 25 weeks with this pregnancy, and that is stressful enough. I totally feel you on wanting to go for a walk! Even though my cervix has remained steady – long and closed – my doctors are more concerned about it than they’d otherwise be, I think, because I’m having twins this time and (as you know) actual preterm labor is so much more common with twins.

    I completely agree with you that it’s nerve-wracking! I feel fairly sure that this is all just false labor and there’s nothing to worry about, but when I overdo it a little and I’m having ten painful contractions an hour, my mind always races right to the worst-case scenario. And for me, at 30 weeks, the worst-case scenario is no longer so awful – I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so early in your pregnancy and be dealing with it. Yikes! You are brave, lady.

  7. Eeesh, this sounds so stressful! But I have to say, I adore your doctor for being so sympathetic and accommodating, and for inviting you to come in whenever you feel like you need to.

    I can’t believe you’re already 18 weeks! You’re almost halfway there!!

  8. Well, you KNOW I feel your pain big time. Even though my contractions were always considered preterm labor since they eventually ended up softening, shortening, effacing, dilating and whatever else can be done to a cervix, they didn’t do it right AWAY- the earliest I dilated was thirty weeks. So for about ten weeks I’d be contracting all the time but wondering if this was harmless or if it was starting to DO something. Here’s what I can tell you: having had babies in your pelvis before, you’ll probably (PROBABLY!) know when you begin to soften and dilate. I didn’t with my first, but with both other babies I could feel, literally IN MY LADY PARTS, when things were starting to change. I always had a sense, going in to my check up, that this was going to be the one when I was put on bedrest.

  9. Oh, yuck! I’m actually thankful that you shared this, I TOTALLY had IU with my 2nd and third pregnancies but I didn’t know it had a name and a website. It happened earlier with each pregnancy, with the third it started around 20 weeks, so I’m wondering if I had a fourth if it would be even earlier? My OB kinda shook her head, like “everything looks good, sorry that you are having those, your uterus must be really sensitive.” But it was super annoying and uncomfortable. Having to pee was a big trigger, like you said. So weird, isn’t it? It never caused a serious problem for me, went full term plus with all 3. I hope that’s your story too.

  10. One of the hardest things for me about being pregnant is that whole one-day-at-a-time thing. It’s SO HARD to feel solely responsible for this tiny human and yet so completely out of control. What’s UP with that? And you just have to go one day, then the next day, then the next… And hope for the best.

    For what it’s worth, I have a good feeling about your baby. I think about you often and dream about roadtripping up to your neck of the woods while on maternity leave. It’s a near impossibility, but OH, wouldn’t that be so awesome?

  11. I am thinking of you and your little peanut – I have a good feeling that all will be fine but wow, I cannot imagine the stress of having that sort of hanging over your head. I am sorry about being so restricted – spring weather must make that SO frustrating! Sending lots and lots of good thoughts your way…

  12. Ugh, just when you start feeling better, eh? I am glad you appear to be pretty chill about it; I would be a complete mental case. As a matter of fact, I was. With my last full-term pregnancy, I started contracting exactly as you are describing around 15 weeks, and in addition to the contractions, I was also feeling lots of pressure in my lady parts. This went on, getting progressively worse, until about week 25. Then, as if by some sort of cruel magic, my body said, “now that you’ve reached viability, I am going to have to fuck with your head some other way,” so the frequent contractions stopped, everything was fine for a few weeks, and then cue PIH and bed rest. Fun times.

    I am glad your doc is totally on top of this. Having this kind of reassurance is pretty priceless.

  13. I had IU with my #3 baby (strangely, not at all with #4). I felt like I might go into labor at any moment. Only bonus was that I was already at 4cm when I went to the hospital to (maybe) be induced a week early, so all she had to do was break my water. Woot! (Had to be induced with all my other wee ones.)

    Baby will be fine. Just drink a lot of water and lay around like a slug. 🙂

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