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I was thinking the same thing Brie. I was one of those people who had off the chart contractions for weeks but never dilated until my water broke. I went to the hospital more than once because my contractions were within the length that they wanted them to be (5 in an hour if I remember correctly) but was sent home because I didn't dilate pass a 3 or 4. Even after my water broke it took me over 10 hours to get to a 5cm and then I went from a 5 to a 10 in less than 30 minutes. With all that said I don't find anything strange about being sent home for failure to progress even if you are 38 or 39 weeks.
Now if they used terbutaline I find it kind of odd. Although I have read on other forums of people getting it at 36 or even 37 weeks sometimes, I have never personally heard of anyone getting it at 38 weeks or later.
I was 41 weeks pregnant with my son and only dilated 1-2 cms with pretty reg contractions but they were only 7 mins apart so they sent me home. lol I came back 8 hours later 6-7cms with contractions every 2min and they admitted me. If the hospital was really busy and you weren't progressing- it is likely he just sent you home to go through the first stage of labor- pp said active labor isn't until the second stage.