Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stress. Test.

I figured it was about time to call Children's and let them know It's Alive (still) and what plan of action they'd suggest, if any. They mused on it for a few days, and my point-guy called me back. I wish I could remember the exact phrasing because it was priceless, but in a nutshell he said they'd conferred, and I should deliver at the hospital next door without the teams of Children's specialists standing around because they'd like me to have as normal a birth experience as possible. At which point I burst out laughing.

"C," I said, because we're on a first-name basis by this point, my genetics guy and I, "You know this whole experience is going to be so fuc . . . er, messed up that another 10-20 people milling about really won't throw me."

"I know, " he said sheepishly, and I could see the grin on his face. "I know."

So there it is, the birth plan: I will give birth next door. The NICU is staffed with people from Children's anyhoo, and they will be informed that if something looks off do not spend precious time trying to figure it out yourself because trust me, you won't be able to. Put the kid on oxygen, dial the numbers we're going to provide you, and get him next door.

Oh, and the OB said they are not, repeat NOT, letting me go beyond my due date. I will have a baby by some day in Mid May.


Today was my supposed to be my 32w ultrasound, but due to me walking out of the MFM's office after being kept there for over two hours at my 28w appointment, and then having my rescheduled appointment cancelled and again rescheduled due to snow, it sorta turned into my 33w ultrasound.

And I was a nervous wreck.

My last ultrasound with Maddy was around 32 weeks. They checked her growth (by now it had slowed down, she was falling into the previous week and people were double checking my LMP wondering if I had that right and making those blow-off-ish comments about "well, you're small, your babies are small"), her heartrate (within normal limits, but on the low end), they noted that the bright spots on her bowel were gone, and sent me on my way. It was the last I saw Maddy until birth. Between this ultrasound and birth, I notified my OB on at least two occasions that she was moving very slowly. I actually had to do kick counts, and she was making them, but barely. No one seemed concerned. I don't blame them.

I'm now at 33w and am fully expecting to be greeted by horrible news at these growth scans: the baby's heart looks big, his legs are crossed (a sign of neurological damage, it turns out), his growth has stopped. After having umpteen ultrasounds this pregnancy during which I kept my fingers lightly on my rip cord, today my fist was clenched around the ring and the wind was rushing through my ears. All "looked fine" to the doctor and the baby is just about out of breach (where he's been camped out for about three weeks, spinning around, standing up, but always head up) in a funny c-shape. (Does the shape signify something?) His growth is still measuring consistently ahead about a week, his heart-rate is normal in the mid-high range, where Bella's was.

And then I had my first Non-Stress Test.

And the baby, who moves constantly, spinning, twisting, kicking, punching -- he only just moved out of breach last week -- keeping me up at night, making kick counts a moot point because he's seemingly in constant motion -- fell asleep.

I gamely tried to paste on a smile when the nurses poked and said "This always happens, cheeky things!" and so forth with the light "Nothing Bad Ever Happens!" banter, but all I could think as I tried not to cry was, This was it. This is the beginning of the end, the start of the bad news, the first sign. Maybe this is the first day where I think, huh, he's slowed down. Maybe he'll still be slow next week, and the week after.

And what happens when you have Epic Fail on the NST is they take you to a room for yet another ultrasound to check movement and heartrate. And the second the ultrasound probe hit my stomach for the second time that morning, he moved. Not just moved, twisted. Kicked, punched his hands, Yawned. He was fine.

I was a fucking basket case.

By the time I hit the parking lot, he had shifted a bit out of his C so his ass was more in the middle of my stomach, and by the time I sat down for lunch he was doing a circus routine. My fingernails are still cutting into my hand where my fist is still in a tight ball around the ring, and my opposite thumb is desperately trying to feel out the outline of the Eject button. I can't believe I have to do this twice weekly. Has anyone ever stroked out because of an NST? Isn't this what they're supposed to prevent?

I have, believe it or not, still refused to let myself think about what might happen some day in Mid May, either good or bad. I figure that thinking about either outcome is a waste of time. I don't do this to spare me then -- there is no way that not thinking about it will make it hurt less -- but to spare me now. Do I want this? I think that goes without saying. But I'm not succumbing to hope or gut feelings or depression.

We'll all know, soon enough.


Mary Beth said...

Irony. Pure irony that this is called a "Non-stress test." Glad everything looks OK--hang in there!
BTW I started reading your blog a month or two ago--thanks for the honesty. I know this can't be easy. But you're doing great-from here anyway!
Good luck.

k@lakly said...

Oh God Tash. Yuck. I wish they would/could come up with a more appropriate name for those mother effing tests. There is absolutely nothing non-stressful about them.
I almost puked the first time I went in for one and they had me climb into a hospital bed to get hooked up to the monitors. It was deja vu to the night/morning Caleb was born. To this day I can't believe I didn't stroke out.
So, so glad the little man decided to cooperate, even if he was a bit late to the game. I hope he's wide eyed and bushy tailed at all future peeks and he at least helps a girl out by not sending her BP into orbit.

These last weeks, they are so damn hard.
I wish like hell there was a way to the other side without all the crap you have to plow through. But, yea, that, world peace and an end to povery, starvation...lofty goals and just not so very likely.
So I will just white knuckle it right along side you. Hoping with everything I have to hope with that all will be perfect when he gets here.

Beruriah said...

My heart is racing. Seriously. So glad he finally cooperated, so freaking sorry you have to go through these tests multiple times a week. I really hope you don't hit nap time again before he's out and you can check him without machines and a wall of tissue between you.

Danielle said...

Tash, I bought an album shortly after finding your blog and right after your pregnancy announcement. It's by a guy whose 5-year old was killed when her brother accidentally ran over her and it's a pretty tough listen. The entire album is about his grief process.

Anyway, the last song just about took my breath away and I could only think of you. I've wanted to share it with you before your baby is born. Here's to hope....

missing_one said...

*hugs* I know for me the last trimester, in particular the last month and the closer my due date got, the more of a basket case I became. For you I imagine it will continue even just after birth.
Hang in there, you're almost there.
Try to envision the finish line with the happiest possible outcome.

G$ said...

Ugh, non stress my ass, eh? FFS this last month isn't going to be a walk in the park. But we are here, listening, holding your hand and hoping for the best. Hang in there.

A.M.S. said...

Right there with you. Every appointment that comes with an "It all looks great!" brings tons of middle of the night "Did we miss something?"

My MFM keeps casually mentioning my final appointment with him and it's all I can do to keep from grabbing his lab coat and demanding to know why he would even think of abandoning me!

So, I'm with you in spirit at every appointment, white-knuckling through. Wish it didn't have to suck a** quite so much for you and I'm always around if you want a joint email no-holds-barred bitch fest.

Aunt Becky said...

Holding you close, Tash.

ezra'smommy said...

Those NSTs are so mis-named. I was a wreck at so many. Hang in there.

Life in Eden said...

Thinking of you girl. Hang in there.

Shanna said...

Sounds like a typical boy to me. ;) May 17th is a great day to be born as that is my birthday. I am waiting impatiently for one of my many friends in Blogland to come through for me here.

erica said...

I hated NSTs, both pregnancies. I almost tried to talk my doctor out of sending me in for them this last time. I remember a nurse blithely telling me they'd take about 45 minutes, but we were usually there for hours.

Hope the rest of yours are much less stressful

tree town gal said...

Tash - Seriously, I'm in tears because of the empathy stress I feel for you. I got nothin' else except to say I hope you see a mr. spunky immediately at your next NST.

Audrey said...

The best part of the NST is that they end once the docs get a "reassuring strip." For me, that terminology is a close second to incompetent cervix in the crap lexicon of impending parenthood.

Bah, nevermind my complaints. So glad all's well with the baby.

biojen said...

I don't blame you for being a basket case. That sounds terrifying. Hang in there, we are all holding our breath with you.

Sophie said...

I hate the term 'bright spots'. If a doc ever says that to me again he'd better duck.

These stress tests are a bit of a joke. Thinking of you and patiently waiting for you to get to the end.


Hope's Mama said...

Ugh, you're at the twice-weekly stage. I did that. So. Not. Fun. We don't call them non stress tests here though, so at least there's that.
Thinking of you, Tash.

Toni said...

I read this with my heart pounding. I think of you all literally every day -- always hoping and praying.

CLC said...

God, I am holding back the vomit, your post had me so worked up. Thankfully your little guy is fine and was just a wee bit tired from the dance party in your uterus. Let's hope he cooperates a bit more the next time around! Counting down the days with you!

angie said...

Yeah. They are supposed to be reassuring, except when they are not, then they are like some nightmare funhouse ride replete with clowns and mocking laughter. Light talk seems so insanely cruel. I mean, the only reason most of us are there is because the worst thing in the world happened to us. I really think they should somehow sedate us at 30 weeks, and keep us in a near comatose condition until go-time. We wake up and they let us know how it all worked out. Hoping the non-stress tests get less stressful. I have to say that I loaded up on the juice and chocolate before every one. Sleep on your own time, kid. Your job right now is to reassure me of your survival. XO

moplans said...

oh jeez tash. I am so sorry you have to go through this.

luna said...

damn. stress. on. you.
just a few more weeks, like you said.

MsPrufrock said...

I was stressed reading this post, so I can only imagine how you must feel! Ack.

Roll on mid-May...

niobe said...

I'm an idiot. Because I keep reading this: the baby's heart looks big, his legs are crossed (a sign of neurological damage, it turns out), his growth has stopped and it takes me forever to figure out that this isn't what actually happened.

Thinking of you.

Alexicographer said...

Geez. Though I know we don't want him to arrive early, I don't think it's true about the "soon enough." Forget world peace, where's the time travel?

Thinking of and, yes, hoping for, you.

loribeth said...

Yikes. Who's testing YOUR stress??

Sending you (((hugs))).

Michele said...

NonStress my ass! It should be called a MST- Mom's Stressed-out Test!

janis said...

Every NST is like putting one's head on the chopping board, waiting for the chopper to come. Crap.
Hang in there. xo

Megan said...

Hang in there, Tash. Any chance you could get biophysical profiles instead of NSTs? I found that they go much faster and actually tell the docs more.
And May is a LOVELY time to have a baby.

Betty M said...

I am so glad that here they dont call them NSTs at least not to the mother's face. When I had my first they called it "day assessment" which at least accurately reflected the amount of time it always seemed to take given the baby was guaranteed to be asleep engendering panic eating of chocolate/drinking ice water/jumping etc. Noe it is "maternal/fetal assessment" instead. Hoping that the next few weeks go by quickly and the tests are as stress free as possible. Thinking of you.

Natalie said...

Oh jesus. That's what I'm afraid of for all these NSTs they have scheduled for me too - that they're going to cause me far more stress than they're going to prevent. (I mean, the whole idea is twofold: to make sure the baby's okay, and to keep me reassured and sane through this all.)

I am VERY glad your baby is looking good. And glad you didn't have a stroke.

Azaera said...

Man, that sounds awful! I hate ultrasounds & tests for everything that goes with them, the stress, the stupid wand they jab into your stomach. I understand why they're necessary but ugh. Here's hoping the next ones go better than this one did.

c. said...

It feels like I was just there, Tash, feeling exactly the things you've described. It's a particularly awful part of this live-baby-after-dead-baby journey. Hoping that that one day in mid-May comes quickly and, when it does, it allows you to hold some hope in your arms again. XO.

Sophie said...

Hey Tash, been thinking of this post over the last few days. My son wanted a baby girl too. I think he wanted a do over, like us all. He accepted it when we said we were having a boy and absolutely adored him when he was born (still does) but he did continue to ask for a girl. He wanted his sister back. I just thought you should know so you can be prepared for that. It just goes to show that our kids are still processing our losses, just as we still are and its really heartbreaking. Thinking of you.