Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chasing a Rainbow

So, just as I knew it would, it's getting harder.  At 29 weeks, most pregnant moms are attending their baby shower and gushing over tiny onesies, decorating nurseries, putting together strollers and cribs.  Me?  I'm trying to avoid conversation with strangers about pregnancy and babies, wondering about ten times a day if my baby died, and checking into Labor & Delivery on a regular basis.

I'm trying to manage my anxiety. 

One thing that is helping is carrying around a post-it note with me, tucking it under my yellow notepad at meetings, and recording every time Bowie moves.   I learned this trick from my friend Nora.

When I panic and think "Oh my God, I haven't felt her move in a while!" I look at this post-it.  In which case, it's often been like 15 minutes.  And then I breathe a little easier. (Usually).

I brought a couple post-it notes home to my husband, the math and Excel guy.  And he took it a step further:

That's right, friends, Justin is graphing Bowie's movements everyday.

I think we're both clinging to whatever teensy bit of control we can find.

Because there's not much.

Last week, I started my weekly appointments with the high-risk OB, the MFM.  I'm keeping up with my weekly OB visits, so right now, I have two appointments a week, which is just fine by me.  Justin and I delved back into our research about cord accidents, even speaking with Dr. Collins in Louisiana again, and advocated to our MFM that we want not only a Biophysical Profile but also a Nonstress test.  Although the Biophysical Profile is supposed to be a superior test, our main concern is cord accidents and the best way to see compression of the cord is by decelerations on an NST.

The MFM seemed perplexed about why I would choose an NST over a BPP, but I told him: I actually want BOTH.  He eventually gave in, but I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm cray-cray.

My OB, however, told me she thought this was a good idea.  She told me that last week she was at the hospital when a woman, 29 weeks along, came in because of reduced movement.  They hooked her up for a BPP and her babe passed, 8/8.  They decided to do an NST just to double check, and the baby showed huge decelerations of her heart rate.  Which means one thing: cord compression.  Which means, she's not going anywhere.  She's staying in the hospital on monitoring 24 hours a day.

These stories are hard for me to hear.  Because you know, what if I had recognized decreased movements from Lydie?   What if Lydie had had an NST? 

But it did prove my point.

And my thought is, if I make it to the end of this pregnancy, and my biggest problem is that I had TOO much monitoring (and a live baby), then that's a good problem to have.  That sounds just fine by me.

So Bowie and I have started our frequent testing, and though it does give me some peace of mind in the moment, that's just it.  It's momentary. 

On Monday, Bowie took a while to pass her NST.  They were poking and prodding her, buzzing her, giving me juice.  Looking for more accelerations of her heart rate, looking for more movement. 

Cheers!  Hoping this cranberry juice gets this girl moving.

I stayed calm, mostly because there was a heart beat and because I was in the hospital.  And because babies usually live at 29 weeks.  Finally, Bowie performed for us.

Next she passed her BPP with flying colors.  And the sonographer knows me and our history and even had a good look at the cord without me asking.  And it looks just fine.

Still, the next morning, I couldn't get Bowie to move as I was laying in bed.  Usually she gives me a few kicks first thing which I'm oh-so-grateful for.  And then I realized I hadn't felt her in the night when I got up to pee either.  So I poked and prodded, poked and prodded.  Nothing.  Tried using my cell phone against my belly to wake her up.  Nothing.  Waited anxiously for Justin to get home from his morning run to use the Doppler together (because apparently I have trouble with the volume switch).

And it took a moment longer than usual (in which he started to panic), but there was her heartbeat.  But maybe not as strong as usual?

I started the day feeling very unsettled.
I packed cranberry juice for work.
I drove my own car instead of carpooling.

After far too long, Bowie finally gave me some good kicks.  And kept it up all morning.  But after lunch, she was quiet again.  The post-it looked really light to me.  And I was anxious.

I was anxious all evening.  I was thinking about how this is all on me.  How Justin can't do anything.  How it's my responsibility to get this baby here - alive.

I told myself I'd feel better after kick counts.  But after an hour and a half of laying on the couch, on my left side, drinking ice water, I had exactly ONE kick on my Count the Kicks app. We used the Doppler, and there she was again, faint but there.

But here's the thing: by the time there's no heartbeat, it's too late.

So, at 9:45 pm, Justin pulled Benjamin out of bed and we drove in silence to L&D.

I wasn't as panicked this time.  I thought she was alive.  But I don't know how to trust my instincts anymore.  I can't separate paranoia from something being wrong.  And when I think about the "what if's," I know I'd rather rush to the hospital to be told everything's fine than to look back and think "if only..."

And Bowie was fine.  Flipped her back to us, they figured, so the heartbeat was fainter.  Don't know why she had a quiet day yesterday, but of course, she moved more once she was on the monitor.  Still had to wait for quite a while for her to show the accelerations they need to see.  Apparently she's a low-key girl, which does not seem fair in a pregnancy after loss.  Plus that stupid anterior placenta.  On Monday, on the ultrasound, I watched her wallop the placenta... and I didn't feel a thing.

We got home a bit before midnight, tucked Benjamin back in bed, crawled into bed ourselves.

So that's two trips to L&D now.  I wonder how many more there will be.  Operating on the "better safe than sorry" model, we could be there pretty regularly.


  1. I'm sorry it's so stressful. Reading this brings me right back to my pregnancy with Finn. It was better with Mary, but still scary. I still had my moments. But my pregnancy with Finn was such a mind fuck. Such a shame that a pregnancy can't just be blissfully happy. I'm glad I had that with Cale, but I too will always wonder what if I noticed a decrease in movement? What if . . .

    Hang in there mama, you're doing the best you can.

  2. Whatever it takes. It's maddening. The post-its are actually a great idea because it gives you a sense of (false, but necessary) control. I love your husband's contribution with that graph. It just shows how much they desperately want to be involved and share the difficulty and burden.

    Don't be bothered about the MFM thinking you're crazy. Honestly, I appreciated the feedback from my OB the most. The MFM TEAM was on my case and I can't tell you how many visits and calls I dealt with related. But, my OB is the one who allowed and pushed for more extreme measures.

    The thing about the MFMs is that they deal with difficult cases all day. Because yours doesn't appear to be textbook difficult, they are putting you in their own category of "low" high risk... at least on their own charts. Keep pushing and prodding and getting all those NSTs and BPPs.

  3. Dude, the post-its are totally a good idea. I totally never thought of that, but it's pretty obvious if they're less full. Genius. I might be stealing this idea...

    It's totally true what was said above about your case not SEEMING difficult to an MFM. I kinda got that from my MFM too. They're looking at people who are having growth problems and pre-e and defects. I swear they look at us and think "what's there to be worried about?"


    Anyway. Hang in there, lady. You're so close. SO friggin close.

  4. Also, I love Justin's nerdy graphing. I would do the same exact friggin thing. And then put it into a Powerpoint report.

  5. Brave mama. Pregnancy after loss is not for the faint of heart.

  6. Good for you for advocating for as many tests as you can to do what's best for you and Bowie to the MFM. As long as it poses no risk, there's no reason why anyone should even consider denying you every possible measure of health at this point. It is completely understandable for you to have post-its, graphs, and multiple trips to L&D given what you've been through. You're getting through this each day and doing what you need to do. Jesse and I are thinking of you and sending you support!

  7. That looks like a solid post-it, girl. Go Bowie!

    Love you. You're doing great.



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