March 11, 2013

Thunder

Sunday night ended perfectly.

After a long, exhausting day at work (Nugget is getting bigger and my back was aching, plus a pinched nerve had my leg hurting too), Matt and I ran a couple of errands, then I went home to take a nap while he had dinner with friends. Afterwards, he came home and we did a few things around the house, watched "Moonrise Kingdom," and fell asleep in each others arms. His head was on my shoulder and his hand was on my belly, feeling our little boy move around and kick like crazy while his exhausted mother tried to doze off.

When I woke up Monday, I did what I usually do first thing in the morning: laid there with my hands on my belly, waiting for Baby's usual "good morning, Mama" kicks in my side.

But they never came.

After laying in bed for nearly an hour and only feeling one kick, I got a bit nervous, but tried not to panic. After moving around a bit and still feeling nothing, I asked Matt to bring me a glass of cold water, my go-to trick for getting the baby to move around.

Still nothing.

Since it was nearly noon and I hadn't eaten anything yet, I had some lunch, then laid down to see what I could feel. A few little kicks, but not nearly what it usually is, and some of them I worried may have been my heartbeat, which was racing with concern by this point.

I had a checkup with my midwife, Tracy, scheduled for 1:45. Matt drove us to the appointment, and there, Tracy told us to bypass the checkup and head straight to the emergency room down the street. Upon arriving at the hospital, she called me to let me know she'd been able to make me a last minute antenatal testing appointment at the university's Center for Women's Health, which would be quicker than hospital triage.

We checked in, and I did my absolute best not to cry in the waiting room. A few days ago, we started our parenting classes, and since then, I've been extra nervous about everything I feel (or don't feel). I'm so nervous and scared to begin with, and all that wasn't helped by a story from the class instructor about a woman with a headache who didn't call her doctor and then who lost her baby two days later. Instantly assuming the worst case scenario, I was overwhelmed with panic, hoping and praying that I was able to leave the outpatient center that day with a healthy baby still growing inside me.

I was called in, and the technician told Matt couldn't come into the testing room with me - that's when the tears started. She gave a few reasons why, all entirely reasonable, but still, it was tough to be in the room alone.

Three beds in a row, separated by thin curtains.

Two other women hooked up to machines, and then me.

A fetal doppler strapped around my lower abdomen, another a bit higher.

A clamp on my finger for my own pulse, and a clicker in my hand to press any time I felt the baby move.

The technician turned on the dopplers, and suddenly mine joined in the chorus with the other two. The baby's heart was not only beating, but beating normally, between 140-155 beats per minute. The three machines together sounded like a storm, like thunder rolling in right outside the window. And I laid there, crying, hoping that the heartbeat was the first bit of reassuring news I'd hear.

Please, please, please ... just let him be alright.

I'd felt maybe 10 movements in the six hours prior to the test.

In the first ten minutes of the test, I felt 4.

After 20 minutes, he'd moved 8 or 10 times, so I was moved across the way to the ultrasound station, where his position and my fluid levels were verified. He's head down, which is where he ought to be at 33 weeks, and the fluids were perfect. Nothing wrong, the technician assured. Probably just sleeping more today - or maybe he didn't get the memo about daylight saving time, she joked.

I left feeling better emotionally, but worn out physically. Worrying takes a lot out of me these days, especially when energy is already at a record low. I couldn't wait to get home and take a nap, but first, I needed to let Tracy know that everything had been fine.

That's great to hear. Good thing is, you're very in-touch with your body and recognize when things may be off.

I struggle a lot these days, mostly with my weight and body image. After a few years of being hyperaware of everything, seeing the numbers jump higher and higher on the scale has been very difficult. But hearing this, I was reassured a bit about one of the wonderful non-scale outcomes of my quest to get healthy: I'm definitely more in-touch with my body and understand how it works a lot better. I know what it feels like to be truly hungry and not just bored. I know the difference between feeling the burn from a workout and feeling legitimate, you-need-to-stop pain. I know what is challenging me and what is unreasonable to ask of myself.

Besides feeling incredibly relieved to hear that my son is perfectly fine and but a little tired, just like his mama, I was calmed down by hearing that, once again, the investments I have made in my body and in my health are continuing to give incredible returns. Today, thankfully, nothing was actually wrong. But if that hadn't been the case, I am at least aware enough of my body to recognize that something was not as it usually is, and I care enough to take immediate action to resolve the issues.