Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rediscovering Paranoia: Where the Fuck Are My Babies?

I am greatly in need of reassurance, because I’ve entered into a new world of terror. For six months all I’ve thought about is my babies dying. (Okay, that’s not ALL I thought about, but it’s been my overarching fear.) Then, for the last few weeks, what with the constant kicking and every week bringing me closer to viability, that fear has eased.

Now I have a new fear: my babies coming out damaged in some way. And the little monsters apparently are in on it, because they’ve (almost) completely stopped kicking. Maybe that’s an exaggeration—I can’t really tell, because I wasn’t timing or counting the movements before. They’re definitely still alive in there—each one checks in occasionally. But both babies’ movements seem have become less frequent and much fainter.

Here’s what happened (in my paranoid cause-and-effect way of thinking): I think (but am not sure) that everything was normal (i.e. lots of strong movement, mostly twisting type stuff) as of last Wednesday. Then, on Thursday night, I had a really really bad night. I had an incredibly stressful day at work, and my day-long pounding on my keyboard triggered some sort of muscle spasm behind my left shoulder. That night, I discovered for the first time that I couldn’t lie on my back for even a minute or two (before this I tried not to lie on my back, but I kept waking up in that position so I knew it was happening anyway) without the dizzy/heart-racing/nausea feeling that lets you know that the babies are, in fact, crushing the vena cava. And though I never believed that this also could happen sleeping on the right side, it seemed that I was getting that sensation sleeping on that side as well (or maybe I was having a panic attack). And my left side had this throbbing shoulder and sleeping on that was killing me as well.

Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to pee, eat, and see if I could do something about my shoulder. When this shoulder problem used to happen, I could spend 15 minutes lying on my back with one of my “miracle balls” (used for physical therapy) between my shoulder blades. Despite my concerns about lying on my back, I tried this. And despite the fact that I was feeling panicky and dizzy, I stayed there for a few minutes. (Not sure how long—definitely under 5 minutes.) Baby A was kicking when I started this, then his kicks faded away.

A few minutes later I got up and tried to ice my shoulder while lying on my recliner. But the dizzy/panicky feeling remained. At this point I don’t know if it was the pain, a panic attack, or an actual circulation problem. Baby B gave some feeble kicks, and I think I got some movement from Baby A, so I knew they were both still alive after my admittedly foolish move.

And then I started to worry (and yes, this really does sound crazy to me). What if I cut off their blood supply enough to damage them, but not kill them? What if I have brain-damaged babies in there now? What if I’ve ruined their lives, and our lives in the bargain?

The thing is, these thoughts probably would have eased by now but my babies have chosen this moment to go into partial hibernation! Every day they kick—I know they’re alive. But it’s NOTHING like what I was feeling in the past few weeks, or even earlier this week. (Actually, I think Baby B is about where she was before with movement. But Baby A—my baby that NEVER stops moving—seems to kick only rarely now and weakly.)

My rational explanation: earlier this week, for both babies, the kicking was surpassed by a lot of strange twisty motions. (Very hard to describe, but I imagine some of you know what I mean.) My rational guess is that the babies have changed position—or at least Baby A has changed position—and now his kicks aren’t in a place that I feel as much. I also wonder if they’ve gotten bigger and don’t have the leverage to kick like they used to. Or maybe there was just a growth spurt and he’s tired out.

But my rational explanation isn’t doing much for my mounting paranoia/terror. I’ve already decided that if this doesn’t change by Monday I’ll probably call my doctor and see what they think. But for now, please tell me, is this normal?


good enough said...

Delurking to say I'm 99.9999% sure you couldn't have damaged your babies by lying on your back for less than five minutes...but I understand your fear and paranoia, cuz I've made myself nuts like that more than once. I say, call your doctor on Monday and see if they'll check things out so you can stop worrying :)

Newt said...

I agree with pp, you can't cut off circulation to a baby with such a short time on your back. If you could, there would be big red signs at the doctor's office, and people would sell spikes pregnant women could wear on their backs to keep them from rolling over in the night.

Quarters are getting closer in there, and probably they don't have as much room to move around as they used to. Even in a singleton pregnancy, the kicking is strongest in the middle, and then gets tamer when the baby starts to have to stay curled up.

That said, my doctor would want me to come in, rather than driving myself crazy, just for the peace of mind. Don't feel bad about asking for a quick check.

I get so excited to see you are so far along!

Eva said...

I agree, just by laying down on your back, there should not be any long-term harm for your babies.

However, having a flu or feeling out of sorts does affect the amount of kicking (at least this is what I remember from my pregnancies) and it made be also worry a lot - without a reason for the worry, because it changed after a couple of days again.

I believe there is a minimum number of kicks one should feel per hour (is it ten?, maybe google) after 24 weeks. Movement will fluctuate though and I think if movement decreases for a couple of days it is usually only a sign for worries if one is already fairly late in the pregnancy (e.g. caused by decreasing fluid levels).

I am not a doctor, but if it really worries you, why not call your doctor/nurse even on the weekend to find out ?

Good Egg Hunting said...

I PROMISE you that you did not damage your babies. The head of my OB practice told me that the lying-on-the-back thing is totally exaggerated. He said that the only people who need to watch that are people w/blood pressure issues (I think he said LOW bp not high), and even then it's not about damaging the babies it's about you not fainting. The head nurse told me that beyond street drug use or a serious car accident there is nothing you can do to damage your baby. I am certain that the difference in movements is due to their position changes. My baby was transverse for a long time and his movements felt very different then than they do now that he is vertex. Also sometimes they can face inside which means you don't feel the kicking as much. And no amount of anxiety can hurt them either, so don't worry about that. I've been a complete basket case this entire pregnancy, and my baby has never shown signs of distress or poor health -- including on the day I was transported to another hospital by ambulance and we thought I might deliver at 28 weeks...he looked perfect on monitors the entire time. Hang in there -- I totally understand how you feel but I promise that your babies are totally fine and it will get easier and easier as the weeks go by. You're doing better than you think!

annacyclopedia said...

I agree with everyone else, and second the last commenter's point about it being an issue for the mom, not the babies. The way I understand it is that the vena cava brings blood from the legs back up to the heart - so it's you who will get deprived of oxygen if you're on your back too long, not the babies. If you could tolerate being on your back for that long, there is absolutely no risk to anyone.

It is so hard dealing with all the fear-mongering stuff we get told as pregnant women - it feeds the paranoia and heightened vigilance that are inherent in pregnant emotions anyway. As hard as it is, try to release those thoughts - mostly they are bunk! You are doing so well and you are loving and caring for your babies with your entire being. I'm wishing you peace and comfort and good health for all three of you.

Kate said...

I'm sure it's a change in position or decreasing space in there causing the changes in movements too.
I'm a big back sleeper usually, and my trick to keep them off the IVC is to have towels rolled up under the edge of the mattress just where my right hip lies if I'm right near the edge, so that I'm on a 30 degree angle with the wedge, and my belly and hips are tipped to the left while my shoulders and head are flat as usual. I haven't gotten low back pain from it yet...

Lorraine said...

The vena cave thing really is about your own circulation, not the babies. I was just on three days of hospital bedrest, most of the time required to be on my back for various monitoring and testing functions, plus I have low blood pressure, and all of the nurses told me it wasn't a problem unless my pulse-ox went too low. Which it never did - my bp did drop, but lying down for a few days will do that.

So - I'm with Newt on this: two little ones in there probably don't have much room to maneuver. THe L&D nurses told me that when people come in for decreased fetal movements the first thing they do is put an ice-pack on the woman's belly. Babies try to get away from the cold, so they start moving. It seems like an easy thing to try at home, and it might save you some worry since Monday is a holiday.

I do think it's a good idea to go in for a quick check with your doc, though. Why not just get some reassurance? My daughter's pediatrician told me that the most important thing is to establish a good sense of worry - to trust yourself if you think something's wrong - and that people are afraid to do that because in the beginning they don't want to "be a bother". She said it takes some trial and error to find your sense of things, and not to worry about going through that. Maybe think of this as early practice for that process?