Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First trip to L&D

Dear Elliot,
First of all, everything is fine. I'm okay, you're okay, and you're still inside cookin' away. But yesterday was definitely one of the most stressful, scary days I've had during this entire pregnancy. I'll start at the beginning.

In the morning, I had a BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound and nonstress test (where they hook you up to the monitors and watch the heart rate) at my OB's office. These two tests together give you a 'score' of how well the baby is doing, based on five criteria: amniotic fluid levels, body movement, tone (example: flexing of the hands), practice breathing movements, and a reactive nonstress test (meaning the heart rate fluctuates and accelerates during movement). You can either get 2 or 0 points for each of the categories. So a score of 10/10 is perfect, 8/10 is considered 'normal,' 6/10 is borderline (repeat the testing), and 4/10 or less is immediate delivery.

I've had like 12 of these things done, since about 32 weeks, and you've scored 10/10 every time.

But yesterday you scored 8/10. During the ultrasound, everything looked good, but you didn't do any practice breathing movements. The ultrasound tech said that was totally 'fine' to fail that part, and sent me to the NST portion of the testing.

Of course I was nervous having anything less than a perfect score, but I was trying to stay calm and not get too upset over it. Well, that didn't work out so well. And I think what happened next had a lot to do with it.

So there are two recliners in the NST room. Sometimes I'm the only patient having an NST done, so I sit in one chair, strapped up to the monitors, and Dad sits in the other one, usually playing Sodoku on his iPod or something. Yesterday, though, there was another girl getting hooked up at the same time as me (so Dad was out in the waiting room). One of the nurses strapped me up and found your heartbeat right away. But across the room, two other nurses were struggling with the other girl in the chair. I overheard that she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins, and that they were able to locate one of the heart beats, but not the other.

As time went on, I could sense panic in the room. "Turn off your cellphone!" one of the nurses almost snapped at me, "maybe it's interfering with the machine." Then, to the girl, "when is the last time you felt baby move?" I was sitting there, the sound of loud static coming from the monitor across the room totally overpowering the sound of your heart beat coming from my own, watching this all-too-familiar scene play right out in front of me. It brought me right back to that morning on the exam table, when my doctor was searching all over my belly for Stevie's heart beat, and I literally felt sick to stomach. After about 10 minutes, they finally told the girl that they would have to send her over for an ultrasound, and she left.

As I was leaving the office about a half an hour later, I saw the ultrasound tech having a very somber/serious conversation with some of the people who had been working with the girl in the NST room. I'm hoping and praying I am wrong, but it didn't look like good news.

Anyway, having you get a less than perfect score on your testing, coupled with this whole scary ordeal, had me pretty shaken up. I didn't get to see a doctor or anything after the tests (my doctor wasn't even in the office that day), so I went home feeling incredibly uneasy.

Once home, all I could think about was that 8 out of 10. I know an 8 is still considered 'normal,' but isn't the point of having all this testing done to watch for any changes? To catch anything even the least bit  concerning before its too late? Maybe if you hadn't done the practice breathing movements every other time I wouldn't have been as scared, but I didn't feel okay about what felt like a decline in your state of well-being.

Then I started thinking maybe you hadn't been moving as much either.

So I called my doctor's office and talked to the triage nurse about my concerns. She basically reiterated that an 8/10 was fine and told me to do kick counts and try to relax. That just wasn't good enough for me. She told me I could always go into the hospital to be monitored if that would make me feel better, so that's what we did.

I'm just not taking any chances this time.

When we got to the Maternal Assessment Center on the L&D floor, they hooked me up to the monitors right away. They said your heart rate was great and reactive and that that was a much better indicator of well-being than the practice breathing. I basically said, "okay, great, but I still want to redo the ultrasound and see if he is still not passing that part." I explained how I realize I probably sound crazy and paranoid, but that given my history of sudden stillbirth, I need the reassurance that my baby is not just doing 'okay,' but is thriving inside. Otherwise, I just want him out. Now. Dad even stepped in and explained that what we were concerned about was not just the score/number (8), but the fact that it didn't fit with our baby's pattern. If he had a history of sometimes getting 8's, sometimes getting 10's, that would be different. This was scary.

The L&D nurse went out of the room to call my doctor and I overheard her say something like, "I don't think she's going to leave without seeing her baby again." She was right! :)

So she redid the ultrasound for me, and this time you cooperated and did your practice breathing. So a 10/10. As soon as I saw you take a breath, I felt like I could finally breathe again too.

After the ultrasound and an hour on the monitors, the nurse called my doctor again. I overheard her saying that everything looked good, and that according to the monitor, I was having some pretty good contractions. Her exact words were, "I really don't think she is going to make it to the induction date!" I  hope she is right!

I am so glad I went in and got the reassurance I needed. I've made it almost 38 weeks without a major freak out like this, so I felt like I deserved at least one before the big day, right?? Ha.

And this horrible day ended a lot better than it began--with the birth of my new niece! Your cousin Madeline was born at around 8:00pm last night and she is absolutely perfect. Dad and I made it to the hospital to meet her just before visiting hours ended at midnight. I am so excited to be an Auntie for the first time. As I was resting Madeline on top of my huge shelf of a belly last night, you were kicking her little butt the whole time :) Can't wait for you guys to grow up together!

Nine days or less...we can do this, Baby.

Love you so much,


Adventures of Squirrel, Squish and Squirt said...

I just found your blog recently. I can't imagine the anguish you went through at that appointment! I have an NST twice a week and while I don't have any history with stillbirth, I still have little freak outs if my little man doesn't do what he's supposed to do. Then for you to pretty much experience that heartache with that lady...oh, I can't even being to imagine. I am glad you were an advocate for yourself to get another ultrasound and I am so happy everything is okay!
I am only about 2-3 days behind you, so our boys may have the same birthday! Who knows :)

Franchesca said...

Oh Kristin! What a day!!! Sending you big hugs!!!! I am so glad you got the reassurance you need.

SOOO close :) XOXO

The Griegers said...

9 days??? Eeee!! So thrilled for you!!!

Angela said...

B did the same thing to me. He failed the breathing portion once. I thought I was going to lose my mind but the doctors told me it was normal. Glad Elliot is doing well, he'll be here soon and I can't wait to "meet" him!!

Patty said...

I am glad you went back! And don't hesistate for a second to do it again if you feel the need.

Erin said...

Goodness, what a day.. I totally would have reacted the same way- so glad you got some reassurance! Prayers coming your way as you go through these last days. Can't wait to see pictures of your little guy! :)

Wiley said...

I think you 100% made the right decision. Hell, they've said they can make codes work to be in the hospital if I ever feel like that's necessary for my peace of mind..

Stefanie said...

I'm am squealing with excitement for you. I can't wait to see this lil' guy. I'm glad that you were so persistent with the nurse and got the reassurance you needed. Sending you hugs, love and prayers for your upcoming big day!

Emily said...

Isn't it awful watching someone else (possibly?) get bad pregnancy news? During one of my early prenatal appointments with Kaia (before my water broke), I saw a couple come out of the fetal medicine side of the clinic and the mom was crying. I almost started crying right along with her. Just knowing how awful it feels to (maybe?) get bad news about your baby made me so empathetic. It literally broke my heart when she leaned against her husband and you could tell she was upset and crying, while he was holding it together. I hope that other mom's babies are okay. And I'm glad Elliot is okay too! Nine days or can do this!

SG said...

Oh, how heartbreaking about the other mom's twins.

Good job watching out for Elliot - glad he finally cooperated with the practice breathing! Welcome, baby Madeline <3

Melissa said...

mmm, yeah, I went in last week too...based on my baby's change in pattern of movement. Baby was fine, I was also contracting a little (31 weeks though so a little less ok for me). And I was pretty picky about the nurses wording - "just because 'you think' he's moving less..."

um, thanks. I know he was moving less, I might be paranoid, BUT - I know the difference between belly shaking movement (the usual) and the gentle taps that I was getting that day.

We have to be our best advocate! Glad you stuck to your guns!

AnotherDreamer said...

How scary, I'm glad everything's alright. I understand the paranoia.

How sad for the other woman, I hope nothing was wrong. I remember being in my OBs office when another woman had just confirmed her miscarriage... I felt so bad for her, having been there myself. It's really heartbreaking to see something like that unfold, even if they're strangers.

Shan said...

So glad you started out saying you and E are okay, but *man* that was tough to read. I'm sorry you had to go through that. So proud of you for going in and I'm grateful you got a nurse who understood what needed to happen.

Hope's Mama said...

Oh, I've been there as well. It is never fun or easy. You're doing an incredible job holding it all together. I know how gruelling, both physically and mentally, the end is.
Huge hugs.

Ausmerican Housewife said...

Visiting hours ENDING AT MIDNIGHT!?

adri said...


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