My Fourth Pregnancy Was Full Of Weird Surprises

by Jennifer Otto
Originally Published: 
A woman holding her belly during pregnancy
Scary Mommy, Jennifer Otto, LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty

As far as pregnancy is concerned, I truly thought I’d seen it all.

I have three children, aged 8, 7, and 3. I’ve experienced swollen ankles, growing feet, back pain, heartburn, rashes, stretch marks, placenta previa, an emergency C-section, planned C-sections…

So when I became pregnant with baby number four, I assumed it would be business as usual. No way could anything surprise me this time.

That is, until one day, at just 23 weeks, I felt something new – a series of sensations I have never experienced before.

It started as I sat upright at the kitchen table. There was a pressure in the lowest section of my baby bump that didn’t seem out of the ordinary – I assumed it was my little girl stretching her legs, and I was just sitting in a position that made the feeling more pronounced.

In a matter of moments, the pressure moved lower, under my bump, and I began feeling swift, sharp jolts in my pelvis. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as pain, but it definitely didn’t feel good.

Oh, what fresh hell is this?

I stood up, half expecting the odd pangs to stop once I began moving around.

As I walked across the kitchen, the pelvic pangs became stronger. They came and went in intervals of about 30 seconds.


Another few moments passed and I felt a sudden, strong pressure. I know how crazy this sounds, because I heard myself explain it to my husband and even I thought I was losing my mind: It felt like something was falling OUT of me.

I’m not gonna lie – I made a beeline directly to the bathroom to check for arms or legs hanging out of me.

OMG, I’m going to end up on a 60 Minutes special, detailing my home birth in the toilet.

So, once I was satisfied that nothing was actually falling out of me (but, was still experiencing these weird sensations), I did what any normal, 21st century mama would do – I searched my ailments on the net.

Sooo, go ahead, type in your search bar exactly how I described what I was feeling – because that’s what I did, and MAN did I get some crazy results!

Courtesy of Jennifer Otto

Apparently, there’s something out there called “lightning crotch.” describes it as “sharp, shooting, and short-lived pain in the pelvis during the third trimester.”

I mean…it’s definitely not the most outlandish thing I’ve ever heard of, but I’m only just halfway through this pregnancy, sooo, try again, internet.

Oh, great, very next 2-3 articles I read are about preterm labor.

I start going through all the checklists: OK, I do feel pressure here, but not here, BUT I also have this feeling in my side and maaaybe a bit of discharge…

It’s at this point, I begin to regret my search (of course, I’ll learn nothing from this, and will most likely still do an internet search next time something is wrong).

The husband and I decide it’s time to call the doctor. Better safe than sorry.

I make the call, describe my crazy symptoms to the nurse (apologizing over and over for sounding insane)…The nurse consults my OB. My OB says to come get checked out.

I drive to the hospital while hubs stays home with the kids. At this point, I’m honestly most concerned with how many more people I have to explain my symptoms to. I don’t know why it felt so ridiculous to me – it just did.

Tell me what brings you in today?

Well, it feels like I’m being punched in the upper hoo-ha, and something MIGHT be falling out of me.

Of course, my OB takes it seriously, because she’s a professional and has seen/heard it all. She measures my belly and checks for dilation (remember, I’m 23 weeks, so dilation would definitely be a problem). But, luckily, everything looks normal.

OK, so what about all this weirdness in my belly and nether-regions?

OB says, “Well, it could be contractions.”

I argue, “But it doesn’t exactly hurt and I’m only 23 weeks – Braxton Hicks doesn’t even make sense to me!”

Her reply: “Preterm labor isn’t always painful.”

Wait, what?

After three pregnancies and every “side effect” I’ve felt in the past, it never occurred to me that I don’t actually know the signs of preterm labor. I thought I had seen and felt it all! Guess not.

I was sent up to Labor & Delivery, where they had me pee in a cup, then hooked me up to a monitor. They tracked the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions, which, as it turns out, I was having!

They kept me hooked up for a good 45 minutes or so and concluded that the strength of my contractions were completely normal. Braxton Hicks was the final diagnosis.

I asked the RN who was unhooking the monitor, WTF? I said to her that I’m obviously relieved it’s not preterm labor, but since when do false labor pains happen so early? And, why the hell does it feel like something is falling out of me?

Having seen and heard it all also, the RN simply explained, “Every pregnancy is different and weird body stuff just happens.”

Weird body stuff just happens.

That’s totally better than preterm labor, or telling people I have “lightning crotch” (although, now I’m wondering if that’s a more accurate explanation, at this point!).

As relieved as we are, my OB still instructed me to listen to my body. She told me if contractions persist every 10 minutes, I should take my butt back to the hospital. And, bonus! I was given a fact sheet on preterm labor.

Even after three previous pregnancies, I didn’t know ANY of this! And a fact sheet straight from the doc is a way better source than an internet search!

So, shout out to the OBs and nurses who have seen and heard it all, take the time to thoroughly check out any and all weird pregnancy symptoms, and send their patients home with more knowledge! You’re absolutely doing the work of saints!

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