Yesterday I had my first real parenting scare. I cried. Several times…
Side-note 1: I say “real” because twice now Lisa has felt quite dizzy, with a palpitating heart, forcing us to quit our dinner outings and take a taxi home–presumably due to low blood sugar (or so thinks the midwives who answer the phone at the hospital).
Side-note 2: We’re in week 36. At this point, several people have already gone through miscarriages, pre-term births, or know that they are awaiting various birthing complications. This has not been our case, so far. Despite the fact that we’re currently in the norm, we still feel quite lucky and thankful that no major problems have arisen.
Side-note 3: Our biggest pregnancy problem thus far has been acid that continuously disrupts Lisa’s sleep, often starting in the evening and continuing throughout the night. Even though she stays away from acidic foods, like apples and oranges, especially late at night, she still routinely gets acid, causing her to miss out on plenty of sleep, and subsequently myself as well. A prelude of things to come.
My schedule for the day: The day started out normal–I was to clean out my old desk, since I will start a new job in the new year. Then I should get a new haircut; a courtesy for the new job. Then I should meet Lisa at the prenatal clinic for our normal two-three week check-up. Then after-Christmas shopping should ensue 🙂
Routine Prenatal Visits: The visit to the midwife was standard and routine. Read my previous posts about these visits here and also here. Therefore, I have not continued documenting every visit (although currently, including the present visit, we have gone to the prenatal clinic post ultrasound 6 times, with two more times scheduled before the birth [since we had two visits pre-ultrasound, we will have a total of 10 visits to the prenatal clinic + 1 ultrasound)–every two weeks, we arrive, the midwife greets us, we swap slightly personal stories about the goings-on in our lives (aka small talk), we ask semi-anxious prenatal questions, and then proceed with checking the blood pressure, occasionally checking the iron levels via a finger prick, and measuring the size of the uterus (a subjective measuring, but still, fun to see the results charted out on a graph). Overall, it’s a fun time, because we like our midwife’s personality and get along well with her (aka–she laughs at my jokes 😉
In fact, the last four visits to the midwife have been so mundane, that I, a fatherhood researcher of child health care, have questioned if I even need to show up. I figure everything will be normal and if not, then my partner will inform me if anything is abnormal (e.g. iron levels are low; solution = take an iron pill more frequently). So, unless I have specific pregnancy questions, there’s little reason for me to attend–accept that most of our visits have, so far, corresponded with the prenatal parent education classes–and since those go over different information at each meeting, I may as well come 20 minutes earlier and still participate in the routine meetings with the midwife. Plus it’s fun!
Back to the prenatal parenting scare: Yesterday’s visit was not completely routine. Beyond the trivial routine measurements and tests, we were to also talk about how we wanted to give birth. The midwife would then notify the hospital of our requirements–epidurals, laughing gas, sterile water, etc. Do we want things in succession? Do we want a completely natural birth? Do we want a midwife who’s good in English? Yes, that last one is a definite yes! Do we have any special needs, especially dietary?
Lisa was already at the clinic when I called her from the elevator asking where she was. I hadn’t worn a hat, despite the Swedish winter in bitter December.
“Oh, I love your new haircut,” Lisa responded when she first saw me. “She does such a great job, and great job styling it. You need to buy whatever product she puts in your hair. You look so good!”
That felt amazing. I can’t wait to get another haircut! I have the best girlfriend, I thought.
We hadn’t really discussed this at home to any great extent. So we went into the prenatal visit saying “we don’t know, what we don’t know,” and sought out a few more answers–why get laughing gas over the epidural and vice versa? What are the pros and cons of both? And what point are you beyond the point of no return when it comes to getting these?
Prior to having the birthing discussion though, we decide we would go through the normal routine. Lisa’s blood pressure was perfect. Her finger was then pricked, and her iron count was 130; a very healthy iron level, just like every other visit.
Then she went to lay on the bed so that her uterus could be measured and the baby’s heart rate could be measured. Knowing Lisa loves video of the baby’s heart rate, I started video recording with my phone. While the last few times we had visited the baby’s heart rate was always around 150-160 (dropping below 150 and occasionally going above 160), this time the heart rate was around 130.
“A perfectly normal heart rate” the midwife responded.
I replied back, “ya, but normally it’s around 150-160, because [the midwife] is pressing so hard on Lisa’s belly, forcing the baby to stress out and move around; so maybe the resting heart rate is closer to 115 or 120?”
No one seemed to care about answering that question, including myself. It was just an automatic statement that blurted out, since we had always seen the baby’s heart rate rise (to 160-170) and then drop after thirty seconds to two minutes (to 140-160).
The uterus was then checked. I was so excited. Since the start of the pregnancy, the uterus has been about one standard deviation below the mean, but over the weeks, had been inching itself closer to the mean. I was hopeful that we would be directly on or even just above the mean line this time.
“There is no growth since the last time you were here,” the midwife said in a slightly urgent and bewildered tone.
She appeared confused and re-examined the size. Then she called in another midwife to confirm her findings.
The room wasn’t filled with jokes. The cheery feeling had left. Silence took it’s place, as Lisa and I wondered what all this meant. Especially having just seen a “perfectly normal heart rate.”
The second midwife came up with similar results. Lisa then reannounced that the baby had, starting a day or two earlier, started to move a lot less. This fact was stated at the beginning of the meeting but was quickly dismissed as “normal” and “anything can happen during pregnancy”. The sentence was not dismissed this time. This time, it was taken seriously.
“The baby not moving much, coupled with no uterus growth–I recommend you to go to the hospital and get another ultrasound,” the midwife strongly urged us.
Thoughts rushed through our heads. What does this mean? How bad is this? Will we give birth today via a C-section? Can something bad happen to our baby? Can we lose our baby!? I want answers, and I want them now!
She then immediately called the hospital to arrange our visit. We found out we could go as soon as our routine prenatal visit ended.
The new chart was created. We weren’t near the average growth anymore. We were on the second standard deviation line below the mean.
Joking time was over. I didn’t give a shit about my new haircut. I was, for perhaps the first time of my baby’s life, completely focused on whatever might be happening in Lisa’s belly.
Lisa and I didn’t speak to each other, but it was clear that we both just wanted the meeting to end at that moment. We wanted to know what was wrong with the baby’s growth. Answers were needed; were needed quickly; and we were quite done at this meeting.
“Do you want to talk about how to give birth,” the midwife inquired.
Lisa didn’t immediately talk. I spoke up.
“Honestly, I don’t really care. I don’t know if we should reschedule or if we should just decide quickly. Lisa, maybe you have some quick thoughts and then we can go to the hospital,” I said.
“I agree,” Lisa responded.
Even still, we continued on, and made some decisions, asked a few more questions related to the birth….and took a few more deep breadths. Lisa and I were clearly more worried than the midwife was about our situation, but even still, she made sure to know she cared.
“I’ll be off the rest of the week, but I may still check my email. In fact, I will try to check everything before I leave today to see how it went at the hospital. If anything comes up, please let me know. And feel free to email me the results and any questions you have,” she said while we were shaking hands goodbye.
As we walked down the stairs, scared and filled with questions, we easily decided we would take a taxi (5 minutes) rather than walk to the hospital (20 minutes). We wanted answers, and we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to be seen sooner.
Off we went!
The exciting conclusion can be found here.