Or, how I am dealing with my anxiety in the home stretch of my first pregnancy post-loss.
I haven’t wished to project every little anxiety that creeps into my mind on my blog, and yet there have been two occasions recently that have had me…us…on edge.
I am 30 weeks pregnant now, and things are progressing as they should. Every appointment has checked the baby as growing steadily and healthily. If this were a routine pregnancy, I’d say everything was perfectly fine, no worries.
I am certainly more aware and sensitive to things in this pregnancy as opposed to my previous ones. I feel like right now, we are so close to the prize, and yet just entering what I refer to as our “danger zone.” I’ve become hyper-observant of movements – anything that could be construed as out of character or attributed to the baby being in distress.
1. Decreased movement
A little over a week ago, after hours, I had experienced a decrease in movement. Typically, as soon as I go to lie down, Baby will begin kicking. Instead, I felt an enormous calm Sunday evening. I began to worry that something had happened, and then I started to rationalize – I hadn’t eaten a lot that day, I wasn’t even hungry at lunch and skipped that meal.
With less sugars in my system, Baby was probably just not as active. I became super alert to any movements, and felt a few flutters here and there throughout the night. I woke early the next morning, drank a huge glass of cold water and lay back down on my left side. He began kicking, and all was right with the world.
We had our check up and discussed starting kick counts, twice a day. Having this data and these patterns helps reassure me daily, and keeps my head on straight between appointments. I set two timers on my phone and when they go off, I stop what I’m doing and count kicks.
2. Quick, intense movements
This morning, right before Mon Cœur (MC) crawled into bed for morning cuddles at 7, I felt rapid, intense movement, both of Baby’s legs and arms were going, and then there was an eerie calm. There was some subtle movement afterwards, and I told myself, “Everything is okay. When the office opens, I’ll call the doctor and get scheduled just to double check.”
Shortly after MC came in and cuddled between us, I just couldn’t shut my mind off. I decided to get up for the day, get ready and begin our morning routine. I was determined to go into the doctor’s and get a non stress test (NST) to confirm that everything was okay. I’d go ahead and drive in; maybe if I arrived early enough they could get me in first thing.
Trusting my mom gut
With Millie, the one thing I continue to regret is not trusting my gut and calling the hospital the evening I felt contractions. I know my body best, and I have to trust what I feel. I know I can’t change anything now; the regret is just a nagging feeling that I can’t get rid of. I just have to have conviction and confidence and act on what I feel going forward.
The movement pattern this morning – rapid and intense – was not something that fell within Baby’s normal pattern of movement. I needed to know that he was not in distress. I decided to act on my gut and go in for reassurance.
Pregnancy amid Covid-19
I got dressed and tried to carefully choose my words for Chouchou. I know he’s worried, too, as we approach the end of this pregnancy.
“Good morning, baby. Everything is okay. I am going to go into the doctor’s this morning. I felt some rapid movement, then lots of calm. I’ve felt him move again, I just need to go get a non stress test to make sure, for me.”
“I’m going with you.”
“You can’t – I need you to stay here with MC. I’ll let you know as soon as I know anything.”
It was only 7:15am, and so I continued to make coffee for us, make a bagel for the road for me, and get MC started on her breakfast invitation. I was trying to stay composed. I was trying to keep Chouchou calm, and I was trying to reassure MC, who was asking all sorts of questions – “Where are you going? Can I go with you? Why can’t I go?”
“Mommy’s just going to say hi to the doctor real quick, then she’ll be right back.” Chouchou was a little alarmed I wasn’t moving with more haste, but I knew the office wasn’t open and I didn’t want to project my angst onto them. We all needed to stay calm.
Luckily, MC is a master at keeping us busy, so between her request for Chouchou to make eggs and her breakfast invitation, I knew that she could keep him preoccupied and vice-versa.
I shouldn’t have told Chouchou that he couldn’t go with me, it’s just that with Covid, all previous rules of engagement are null. We would not be allowed to go into the office as a family. We’ve made arrangements for other appointments, and I am trying so hard to keep him involved at every level. I understand (on a very surficial level) how a father may feel out of the loop in general with a normal pregnancy, not being able to feel the baby, etc. So, I can only imagine how Chouchou feels this pregnancy. I try very hard to communicate every little good thing, to have him feel any flutter, kick, or hiccup, and try to stay positive and collected otherwise.
As I waited in the waiting room, my anxiety was compounding – I felt no movement, I was drinking cold water and sitting there rubbing my hand in circles on my belly and wondering when I would be seen.
The nurse came and called my name, took me back, was very calm and sweet and talked me through step by step what they were going to do. She noted my vitals, and observed out loud my blood pressure was elevated. Alarmed, I asked if it was high – she said, “It’s in the normal range, although it’s definitely higher than your normal range.”
I went ahead and settled into the chair for them to hook me up to the NST. She found the heartbeat and as soon as she did that, I let out a huge sigh of relief and a few tears. He had repositioned himself, his head was now on my left side, but there was a heartbeat and it was good and it was strong. They gave me a cup of ice-cold water and I began sipping it through the straw. Pretty soon thereafter, the doctor came in to check on me and I was thumbing the quiz-show buzzer, tracking his frequent movements.
The doctor stayed with me the whole time, save when I FaceTimed Chouchou to let him know everything was okay. The doctor and I chatted about various things, she gave me general information about patterns I could expect and scientifically documented active times for babies in utero at this stage – like they are most active between six and ten pm.
She said many times, “Darlin’, anytime you need to come in to this office you come on in.” After about a half an hour strapped to the NST, with heartbeat fluctuations and enough movements, all parties were satisfied and I was able to head back home to Chouchou and MC.
She also inquired, “How do you manage your anxiety between appointments?”
“I have a three year old to chase after, all day, every day. For the baby, as long as there is regular, normal, patterned movement, then I am reassured. I thought everything was okay this morning, but I needed to be sure, so that’s why I came in.”
And that’s the truth – MC is great at keeping me preoccupied. Every day is a new adventure – she keeps me busy and on my toes. We are creating a daily and weekly routine as best we can in these times.
The twice-daily kick counts have also been helpful in reassuring me, as patterns begin emerging.
The finish line in sight
We had previously focused on just getting from one appointment to the next, but we are literally eight weeks away, and are both beginning to fixate on just fast-forwarding to the arrival date.
I’m starting to make a to-do list for September – call and schedule the induction, write a (loose) labor plan (which I have never previously done, because we’ve been carefree, go with the flow), make a request for specific L&D nurses (if possible), and make a specific request to not be in the same delivery room as where we delivered Millie (something I had not thought of, but Chouchou had).
Our journey has not been without anxiety, although I feel incredibly grateful to Chouchou, MC, our group of doctors, and our family and village. Thanks to their strength, courage, prayers, and good vibes, I feel strong myself and able to carry on as we approach our delivery date.