Baby Mac has had a rough week. I’ve stopped uttering the phrase, “I just want him to be here!” and am learning to take this pregnancy day by day and my new label of “high risk” with as little anxiety as possible.
On Tuesday I went in for my routine checkup. I’ve been feeling great recently; less tired, less back and hip pain, and happy. So, I traipsed into my appointment thinking that I would be in and out in less than ten minutes, like normal, and off to meet my friend for crepes and a milkshake.
I got weighed in, got my blood pressure taken, and listened to Baby Mac’s heartbeat with a smile on my face. My doctor, donning scrubs and dark circles under her eyes as if she just came from an all-nighter in Labor and Delivery, sat down to look over my chart.
She managed a tired smiled and said, “So, 27 weeks! You should be feeling him kick all the time now!”
I paused for a little bit and then explained to her that, no; I am not feeling him kick “all the time”.
I described how I mostly feel small flutters throughout the day, and usually just at night. Some days I’ll feel one or two larger kicks, but it’s mostly flutters, almost like I have a mini goldfish swimming around in my uterus. But I can also go a whole day or two without feeling anything.
A few weeks ago I was told this was normal because I have an anterior placenta. (My placenta rests on top of the baby, adding an extra cushion between his movements and the outside of my uterus.) I was told it would take me longer to feel real kicks or any big movements, so I didn’t worry about it.
But after I described what I feel, my doctor jumped out of her chair and said, “Hmmmm well, I’m going to send you in right now for a non-stress test.”
“A non-stress test. I’m concerned. You should be feeling more movement now. I’m sending you over to Maternal Fetal Medicine”
“Okay, Where? What…what does that mean. What will the test show?” I managed to sputter out. Inside I was losing it.
I could tell she barely wanted to explain the medical details to me, “Well, if the babies not moving, it means he may be under some sort of stress…and just lying dormant. So we want to check that out and possibly do an ultrasound as well, just to make sure baby is okay.” We were now out of the patient room and walking to the check-out desk. I was so confused and felt poorly communicated too. I had no idea what Maternal Fetal Medicine was or what a Non Stress Test was and was wishing I wasn’t alone.
The check-out admin woman called Maternal Fetal Medicine to schedule me in. I asked where that was, who that was, and what this test was all about. Her response was a slight smile with worried eyes. She then muttered a few things I could barely understand and said she’d walk me over to this other doctor’s office, which thankfully was literally next door to my OBGYN.
I get checked in there, still with no real clue with where I am or who I’m seeing. While I wait to get called back a quick Google search tells me I’m at a high risk doctor.
A very kind nurse ushers me back to a sun filled room and finally gives me some information. A non-stress test monitors how active a baby’s heart rate is. I sit down in a recliner and get two monitors strapped to my belly, one checks on baby’s heart rate while the others picks up any contractions I may be having. When baby is active, his heart rate will go up. The sweet nurse, my new favorite person, set me up with a stack of trashy magazine, “I you can relax enough to read”, and a jar of Jolly Ranchers, “to hopefully make baby active”.
I quickly texted Ryan to fill him in. He responded a few minutes later telling me to not google low fetal movements. I tried to relax as I watched a paper of my son’s heart rate printing out next to me. The nurse returned in twenty minutes and said she’d be back shortly with the results from the doctor.
She came back and told me that baby passed the test, but not as ideally as they would like and they were sending me in for a BPP. She shuffled me into an ultrasound room and explained that a BPP is a special ultrasound that looks for special movements and checks on my placenta and amniotic fluid.
I get myself comfortable on the ultrasound table and try to enjoy the forty minutes of getting to see my son in action again. I ask the tech about twenty times if things look “good”. She smiles at my kindly and says, “Yeah!” a little too enthusiastically. I’m freaking out, but can she blame me?
When she is done she leaves to go discuss the results with the doctor. I can’t help but to think, will I ever get to meet this high risk doctor, or will he exist for me like the wizard of Oz behind a thin curtain?
Then a very young nurse practitioner comes in and tells me what she and the doctor discussed. (I guess I’m really not going to meet the wizard after all). She informs me that the baby (or the babe as she referred to him) is doing okay and passed all of the tests. So that’s good.
She is very perky and makes good eye contact. But I can’t fight this feeling that she’s tip toeing around the facts.
But, they are labeling me as high risk and that I will come back and see this doctor every week until delivery to get these tests done and be monitored for low fetal movement.
She also threw in that I should be ready for an emergency C-section at any time, in case baby is under stress any week. This would be scary right now, being that I’m only 27 weeks along.
I sat up and said, “I’m hearing mixed messages. One is that baby is okay and everything looks good and two I’m now high risk and need to be monitored closely.”
I was scared. I was picturing calling Ryan and crying that I was being taken into surgery right that evening and giving birth to our son thirteen weeks early.
She tried to calm me down by saying that they just like to be extra cautious and to make sure he continues to increase movement.
If I do not feel him move for a day, then that is a major cause for alarm. I am then to come into see them ASAP and take these tests. If he fails the tests then they would prep me for a C-section to make sure they are able to get him out to help him survive. That would be the worst case scenario, but he is doing okay now.
Before I knew it, I was out scheduling weekly appointments throughout the summer. It all felt so fast and surreal that it wasn’t until I got to my car that I really began to process it. And it wasn’t until I googled 27 weeks survival rates that I began to cry. My mama hormones were in high gear.
But it’s been two days and I’m coming to terms with it.
In a nut shell:
- Baby Mac is okay! He is healthy! His heart beat is strong. He’s doing well in the womb, but not as perfect as he could be.
- I’m going to be closely monitored as a precaution. They want to be sure that his movement does not decline.
- I have an app that I’m using to count his kicks and movements. If I notice a decline in movements I’m to call as soon as possible so that they can help him survive as quickly as possible.
- I’ll look at these weekly appointments as a way to get reassurance that all is okay with the baby. I’ll get to see him on screen every week!
- Being high risk will guarantee the doctors will treat me like a queen.
- This whole experience has made me appreciate of what my body can do. It’s been an excellent reminder to take one day at a time. Instead of wanting to rush time I will be grateful for each day that passes and Baby Mac stays cooking inside.
So for now you can find me appreciating patience and counting kicks.