Thursday, July 10, 2014

Anxiety Rerun

I realize I have not written very much about this pregnancy here.

I think it's because it's not as all-consuming as my first! exciting! amazing! pregnancy was, and it's not as all-consuming as my second. fearful. tear-filled. pregnancy was.

It's somewhere in between, really--an exciting and unexpected surprise, a blend of confidence in my medical care and my body's ability to actually carry and delivery a healthy child, and a good dose of anxiety that can still keep me up at night, but isn't new or different from the anxiety I felt before.

I've definitely had my ups and downs with this pregnancy. The initial shock, the relief that all looked fine, the delight that we've had one healthy baby, the resurgence of guilt for not knowing something was wrong with Eliza.

Most of the things that made my first pregnancy feel hard--like the "Is this your first?" question--have softened. People know or they see Zuzu and they don't ask or they ask and I just say "No" without elaborating.

The third time around I know the drill, you know? The doctor appointments, the kick-counts, all that stuff.

Yeah, I freaked out at the 34 week 3 day mark, but that freak-out was less about fear and more about guilt. Rerun has been so active, my NSTs have been so good. I didn't feel scared for this baby as much as I felt heartbroken and ashamed about Eliza not being okay. It threw me for a loop, but I also had the distraction of Zuzu's birthday, plans to go out of town for the Fourth of July, a summer class to show up and teach.

Tuesday I had a doctor appointment. 36 WEEKS!!! Another good NST. But when the doctor felt my belly, I asked him if he could tell what position the baby was in. Remember how I felt like my abdominal muscles were being ripped apart? I've still felt more uncomfortable this time than I remember from last time. And a quick ultrasound revealed that the baby's fat round head is right up between my ribs. Basically, as breech as you can get.

My doctor calmly assured me there was time for the baby to turn around and I felt calm when I left his office.

And then sometime that night, I lost it.

I started obsessing about a cord accident. Random, rare, unrelated to what happened to Eliza, but taking Rerun from us also.

I was also feeling nauseated and having serious gastro-intestinal distress, which was totally unrelated to pregnancy and yet SERIOUSLY UNCOMFORTABLE, so I think that added to everything. I was supposed to be grading papers, which was giving me flashbacks to when I went into labor with Eliza (marked by having contractions that made me throw up) and I was basically a huge mess.

The next morning, I wrote this e-mail to my doctor:

Sorry to bother you with an e-mail after just seeing you yesterday, but after 36 weeks of (relative) calm in this pregnancy, I think I have hit freak-out mode.

The fact that this baby is still breech at 36 weeks and is so very breech with its little head right up in my ribs has me worried that there's a reason it hasn't flipped around--like the cord is caught around the neck. I don't think the baby has been moving back and forth--that muscle-ripping feeling I've had near my ribs seems like it must be related to the head being there for weeks now. I know the NSTs have all been good, but I can't help but worry.

Friends of mine who have had breech babies have either had an external version or immediately opted for c-section. After having two vaginal births, I'd obviously like to avoid a c-section (if the thought of needles makes me cringe, the idea of surgery kind of sends me over the edge), but a friend of mine had a version shortly before her first son was stillborn. While she has no idea about correlation vs. causation, it's enough to terrify me. And, like I said, I can't get the worry of a cord accident out of my head. What if the cord is too short or too twisted to flip the baby around? I know it's rare and random, but I also know that statistics have screwed us over before.

I'm not sure what my options are at this time, but I would like to know if there's a way we can get a closer look via ultrasound at the umbilical cord, or if we can talk about what you would recommend if the baby hasn't flipped around by 37 weeks (or 38, or whatever you think the timeline would be). I think I'd feel better to have some kind of plan going forward so that I can get through this weekend without becoming a total basketcase.

I've seen all the exercises online I can do to encourage the baby to flip, and I'm more than happy to watch TV upside down on an ironing board leaning against the couch, while shining a flashlight at my crotch or blaring Beethoven or having David talk into a paper towel roll aimed at my pubic bone (seriously, those are actual recommendations), but I want to make sure that there's not a risk of me harming the baby by doing these tilts and inversions.

And then I asked him to call me after 12:15pm. 

Can you tell that I must be his FAVORITE PATIENT? And he's probably SO GLAD I have his e-mail address?

So, yeah. The e-mail is a little bit crazytown BUT SO AM I.

And, God love the man, he called me yesterday afternoon and scheduled me for another NST and modified bio-physical profile (a fancy ultrasound that looks closely at breathing and fluid levels and can look at the cord even though they don't like to talk to you about the cord because lots of babies are actually born healthy even with the cord around their neck--Zuzu was). He told me to hold off on exercises until after the BPP and we'll go from there. Enormous sigh of relief.

What I love most about my doctor is that he manages to both calm my anxiety AND validate my concerns.

I have to go back to the perinatal center for the scan, which I'm not looking forward to, but it's worth it for me to have the extra monitoring and the peace of mind. And my once-a-week appointments have been bumped to twice-a-week appointments for the duration.

Three and a half weeks, you guys.

Oh, Rerun. Please turn around safely in there. 


  1. I'm so glad you reached out and asked for what you need. After what you've been through, you don't need any more anxiety than you can help having. I'm glad he's understanding and You and Rerun are in my prayers!

  2. Ugh. Hoping rerun turns around on his or her own and their is no cord issue. But if for somerreason their is no flippage on reruns part try not to be too stressed over a c section. It is surgery, but the important thing is that he or she arrives here alive and healthy.

  3. Only you can make me laugh on a post with this topic. I do adore you.

    I am sending upside baby pretty pink and blue thoughts your way for the next month or so.

  4. Sending prayers ReRun turns around for you! What a great OB :)


  5. What a great OB you have. I am sending you nothing but wonderful wishes and positive thoughts, and I hope the BPP eases your anxiety. (I remember Dorothy turning-- OMG was it weird).

  6. I think you should be patting yourself on the back for holding it together for 36+ weeks.

    Come on little baby, flip once and then stay put!

  7. Yes to everything Caroline said. I hope for lots of reassurance to get through the next weeks and then a healthy baby so soon!

  8. 36 weeks is my panicky-time, too. For some reason it's a terrifying threshold to pass. Maybe because the countdown is certainly ON, but also because I feel like SO MANY friggin losses took place in that final 4 weeks. Ugh.

    Hoping baby flips safely and slides out without any further tears ;) And I hope it's painless and he/she is as stunningly gorgeous as his/her big sisters before him/her.

  9. I agree with the ladies before me, I think you have done remarkably well keeping calm. Knowing the cost of not advocating for myself and my baby too well, I say be the crazy lady in the middle of the Drs office if you have to! Do whatever you need to.

    Come'on Rerun, be extra good and turn around safely.

  10. Sending baby-flipping thoughts your way.

    I wish that I could ease your fears about the C-section, at least. I've had three because my uterus is terrible in all sorts of ways, and the pain of a C-section is small compared to what you have already endured. I honestly think the worst part is the shot glass of medicine that you have to take beforehand to reduce the acid in your stomach. I still gag thinking about it. Having a healthy Rerun will provide enough euphoria to get you through anything you need to get through.

  11. I can't stop trying not to smile at that email. So valid, but also, from a non-panicky place, so funny! I don't think I know anyone who's actually used the word 'crotch' in black and white to a doctor - not even an OB. Cracking me up, still. And all those turning exercises you detailed…I just keep imagining that doctor's face! Hahaa!
    ANYWAY - your concerns are incredibly valid and I think it's amazing you've been as calm as you have throughout the majority of the pregnancy. And since I'm writing this after Rerun turned, we all know that part went okay, so Whew!
    Thanks for sharing the fun, fear and vulnerable here.