Labor: Timing Contractions When I Can't Feel Them?

Hubby and I just got home from L&D after spending all day there. I had started having contractions this morning with back labor. After an hour of contractions every 10 minutes, they went to 7-8 with non stop back pain I could no longer time. We called my OB'S office and they said to go in. By the time I was finally hooked up to the monitors I was having more contractions than I had thought that were 2-3 minutes apart (not 7-8) with non stop back pain that was increasing. They finally sent me home because I wasn't dilating beyond 1.5 even with contractions so close together for several hours. They didn't even hurt! My back was where my pain was at and I had to have my hands on my belly to feel most of my contractions to even know I was having them. How am I supposed to time my contractions when I can't feel half of them unless I have my hands on my belly? This is so stressful and I'm only 38 weeks!