I always laugh when I read books and magazines when women ask 'How will I know when I'm in labor? I'm afraid of going to the hospital and being sent home, embarrassed.' First, if you think you're the most embarrassing thing people at the hospital have seen, then you've never been to a little something called the 'emergency room'. As a nursing school dropout, I can tell you that the things people put in their butts is astounding- your false labor is nothing. Do you have a thermometer or a pop bottle wedged in your hiney? No?? Come back when you do. Then we'll talk.
Basically, labor feels like you need to poop. Really, really bad for about 18 1/2 hours. If you think you're actually going to have to go to the potty, then get your happy ass to the hospital lest you end up on a tv show called 'I Had My Baby in the Toilet at Waffle House.' I'm not joking about that. That is EXACTLY what it feels like.
Or, you can be like me and head to the hospital the second you feel anything stirring below your belly button. (with the babiest Baby C, I sat at Chili's telling Frank "Daaayyyyum. I need to go the bathroom. I think my puffy chicken was tainted.") When we got home that evening, I told Frank to go to bed. That I was gonna drive myself to the hospital, but I was sure I would be back in 30 minutes after they told me, of course, that I just needed to poop. I'm not kidding. Ask him.) Of course, this was my second baby, so I was probably dilated to a 17 or something (Side note: If you're ever curious about the definition of the word 'love', just wait and see how delighted you are when your anesthesiologist comes in to give you your epidural while you're in labor. I promised mine a bj. Once again, not kidding.)
Oh! This is kinda funny. When the anesthesiologist was giving me my epidural with the biggest Baby C, Frank was all "Christine, you should see this- you would love this- the needle is like 15 feet long and he's putting it in your damned spine..." And I was all "I'll fucking go all Oklahoma on your ass and fuck you uppp if you keep....Oh, hell...why, hello handsome...") With the babiest Baby C, I was a pro- my water broke when he was putting the needle in. I didn't flinch. Instead I gave the anesthesiologist a hug and said "I love you and where were you during conception, when I really needed you?!"
All I'm trying to impart is this- when you're in labor, you'll KNOW- because it fucking hurts. And if you do go the hospital only to be sent home?? It's not a big deal at all.