I'm still pregnant. Deuce is still doing just fine.
BUT we kind of had a freak out.
So it all started yesterday with my regularly scheduled non-stress test. Right as she got the Deuce on the monitor, the nurse had me lean back the recliner all the way (this was unusual, as I typically have my feet up but am not leaning all the way back). I didn't ask questions as she was super calm and matter of fact about it, but once I was leaned back, she explained that we'd had a deceleration (significant drop in heart rate) but it had picked back up again. It was holding steady around a (very normal) baseline of about 140 and looked just fine.
The Deuce went on to pass the non-stress test with three accelerations, but that deceleration scared the crap out of me. The heart rate had dropped all the way down into the 80s (normal is 120-180). I kept asking questions about why that would happen and the nurse explained that that kind of deceleration usually indicates umbilical cord compression.
Of course I was completely freaked out. What if I hadn't been on the monitor and she hadn't told me to change positions?
She said that it's normal and it happens to every baby (???) and if I hadn't been on the monitor, we never would have known and the baby would have shifted and the heart rate would have returned to normal. (???? But how do we KNOW that? It's not that I didn't believe her, but I know she was trying to calm me and I would have preferred to read this information in a peer reviewed medical article).
I guess it was obvious that I was not buying her reassurance, so she had the doctor in the perinatal center come talk to me (NOT the terrible one--I've not seen him since that fateful day). The nice doctor said the same thing. The occasional, non-repeated drop in heart rate was normal. If the heartrate had not been variable afterward, or had continued to have decelerations, they would admit me to the hospital. But there was no indication that we needed to be concerned. My fluid level was perfect, so the baby had enough room to move around (but not too much room). If they were worried, they would never let me leave. At this point in my pregnancy, if there were signs of a problem, they would induce immediately.
I nodded and left, only because I had an appointment scheduled with my regular OB and I wanted to hear what he had to say about all this. To my surprise, he said the exact same thing. He was totally chill about the fact that the heart rate had dropped into the 80s for maybe 30 seconds or so. The report card showed the Deuce had passed the non-stress test, my fluid level was good, the baby looked good for the biophysical profile, he saw no reason to worry.
I trust my OB, so I said ok, fine. And I headed home.
But you know I couldn't get it out of my head.
I kept thinking, what if I had remained in that position where the umbilical cord was squished? What if it happened while I was sleeping?
Needless to say, I did a lot of tossing and turning last night. I did a kick count right before I went to bed, which was quite reassuring. In fact, the Deuce had been especially active all day long, which seemed like a very polite way to make up for this deceleration scare. What a good baby!
Well, Deuce seems to be SUCH a good baby that he/she has decided to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. When I got up to pee at 3:30am, I got NO MOVEMENT from the Deuce. Flailing around in bed didn't provoke any kicks, so I got up and drank a glass of orange juice. I felt a couple of small movements, but nothing like the usual jabs and butt-bumps that I'm used to. I know that movement changes toward the end of pregnancy, and I knew from the biophysical profile that the Deuce is head down and facing my spine, with arms and legs tucked in the fetal position, so it made sense that I wasn't feeling tons of movement. But it was so different from the day before... The phrase "decreased fetal movement" ran through my brain over and over again, and after lying there for several minutes without anyone thrashing around reassuringly in my uterus, I officially started to Freak the F*ck Out.
David was awake by this point (you don't really sleep through my FFO moments) and I insisted that he do the kick counts. I was afraid that I wanted to feel movement so badly that I would imagine it. So we counted ten movements, but it took FORTY FREAKING MINUTES. Normally it takes the Deuce 10-20 minutes to hit ten movements. So we might have technically passed the ten kicks in an hour rule, but I was not satisfied. (It might have taken slightly longer than it could have because I had a huge sobbing/wailing session in the middle of it and David had to talk me down from).
I did one more kick count (by now it's about 4:15am) and the Deuce was slightly more cooperative, but it still took 32 minutes to get another ten movements. Still, I knew the baby was alive. I told David that if the second kick count took longer, we were going to the hospital, so I was really relieved that it took less time. As much as I wanted to get checked out, I think I was really afraid of getting up and admitting that something was wrong. Because I didn't WANT something to be wrong. I didn't want to fail the Deuce, but I didn't want to accept the real possibility that something might be wrong. I just wanted everything to be okay.
So we discussed going to the hospital, the Deuce continued to offer me some puny kicks, David said a bunch of reassuring stuff, and I finally let myself go back to sleep around 5am. I was up at 8, did another kick count and it took almost half an hour again. Plus the movements still felt wimpy to me. Not the enthusiastic thrusts and gyrations of the day before.
I ate some breakfast and was still feeling occasional, puny little movements. Enough was enough. I called my doctor's office and said, "The baby is moving but not as much as usual. I'm scared." They told me to go to the Women's Evaluation Unit at the hospital. The nurse actually said cheerfully, "They'll hook you up to some monitors and make you feel much better."
So we headed for the hospital. The Deuce gave a couple reassuring kicks on the way there, but not so reassuring that I wanted to turn the car around and go home. I was seriously scared, and even David admitted that the kicks did not have their usual intensity.
We checked in at the Eval Unit and a nurse took us into a triage room right away and asked about what was going on. I was telling her about the change in movement, and David interrupted to tell her about Eliza. She was very kind and understanding and left the room briefly to get a different Doppler machine than the one that was already there. I sat in the chair and felt Deuce move just a little bit as we waited.
The nurse came back and had me lie down on the bed and put the Doppler wand on my belly.
She only waited a second or two before tossing that aside and grabbing the Doppler that was already in the room. She chattered the whole time about that machine not being a good one and blah blah blah. I took a deep breath and begged the Deuce to move a little bit.
She put the second Doppler wand on my belly.
So then I officially lost my shit. I felt hot and then cold and like I might pass out and I started sobbing.
David was trying to shush me / comfort me and the nurse said, "Now, just hang on, hang on for me," as she quickly tossed that Doppler wand aside and hooked up a NST machine monitor. She said, "You felt the baby move today?" and I sobbed that yes, I had felt the baby move today. She slapped the third monitor on my stomach and there it was.
Galloping heartbeat, in the 150s, clear as a bell.
I gulped for air and said sternly to the nurse, "You need to get some funding reallocated and get some new machines in here."
The nurse said, "Excuse me?" Because I was still kind of crying so it might have been hard to understand, but also because maybe that is a weird thing to say in response to hearing your baby's heartbeat? But SERIOUSLY what the HELL are they doing with shoddy equipment in the triage room? Are you freaking KIDDING me? (After I repeated myself she told me that they are getting new equipment).
Even David admitted it was like the word PTSD experience ever. I think the only reason we did not have a complete and total brain explosion meltdown was because I really had JUST felt the baby move. But that didn't change the terror of that static sound. I think that sound will haunt my nightmares for forever.
Once she found a steady heartbeat, we all sighed huge sighs of relief, and she walked us down to the perinatal center (where I'd been the day before). All the nurses who know me stopped by to hug me and ask how I was doing. They hooked me up for monitoring and the Deuce eventually passed the non-stress test, but took his/her freaking sweet time to do it. Movement was slow also, so they gave me graham crackers and peanutbutter and apple juice, and FINALLY things kicked into gear.
They went ahead and did another modified BPP even though I'd just had one the day before, so we saw the baby and it was good to see that everything looked okay on the ultrasound. Baby was practicing breathing and moving around and my fluid level was still good. I asked her to turn on the blood flow so we could see if the cord was stuck down by the head and it wasn't.
The head, however, is soooo freaking low, you guys. I seriously was having a lovely time floating in our neighbor's pool yesterday morning and then when I stood up on the ladder, the weight of the baby came down on my bladder and I nearly peed in their pool. I had to waddle with my thighs squeezed together to get back to my house in time to go to the bathroom and I almost didn't make it. I don't feel like it looks different from the outside, but I definitely walk differently. David was gently mocking me for waddling yesterday and I said, "YOU try to walk while holding a human head in your crotch!"
Anyway, there was NO indication that anything was wrong, but nobody made me feel bad about coming in. The nurses were so nice and said that I should never worry about coming in if I feel like something's off, and they would be glad to see me every day of the week.
I left feeling relieved, but also with that residual panic adrenaline running through my veins.
I'm glad to report that Deuce continued to be normally active the rest of the day, and is currently doing yoga to express his/her appreciation for the Dairy Queen blizzard I had after dinner.
Still, I hope the nurses were serious about being glad to see me every day of the week, because I have TWO WEEKS to go and I am thinking about bringing a pillow and my laptop and some trail mix and just moving into the perinatal center for the duration.