Monday, September 21, 2015
The stuff you Google at 4:00 a.m. when you're pregnant
It's 3:50 a.m. and I am lying in bed feeling some unusual motions in my belly. They are mini pulses, one about every four seconds. I've felt this happening a couple times before in recent weeks. But these go on for longer, a good ten minutes or so; they do not feel like hiccups; and they're unnerving me.
I have not had much pregnancy paranoia. I mean, I asked a lot of questions during the neurological scan, but until now I haven't been scared that the stroke that befell Max will reoccur, mainly because I'm the hands of excellent high-risk doctors and getting a whole lot of ulrasounds. Still: These pulses make me think of seizures. Max had them on the first day of his life, which is how we knew something was really wrong.
I try to talk myself out of the seizures. I think back to Max having a seizure in May and how his movements were rapidly jerky, not these evenly spaced pulses. But that memory is deeply disturbing and I have to force myself to quit thinking about it.
Really, the only continuous freaky thought I've had during this pregnancy is: What if I drop the baby? It's not that I even have nightmares about this—the thought randomly flashes into my head during the day. It is seemingly a totally irrational fear. These arms have held babies for a good part of my life. Long before I had kids, I babysat and was a camp counselor; I've always loved children. Oh, and yes, I've raised two kids, holding them securely the entire time.
I'm guessing this fear ties in to a story told to me by the physical therapist Max had when he was a baby. She once treated a child with severe brain damage. The mother had accidentally dropped her while going downstairs. "The baby went 'Bump, bump, bump,'" the therapist told me, and I've never gotten that "bump, bump, bump" out of my head. So yeah, maybe there is some underlying anxiety there about having another child with special needs.
I finally get out of bed, sit down at my computer and Google "pulsating movements during pregnancy." I learn about "practice breathing," which is totally normal. It sounds cute, even though it sure feels like anything but. Being me, I keep Googling and sure enough, there is a thread on an Epilepsy Foundation forum started by a parent whose child had a stroke. The doctor said it was possible her daughter had been seizing in the womb. And now I am scared. That's the problem with Google: It will validate your worst suspicions.
So I do the only thing I can think to do that will calm me—I crawl into Max's bed and cuddle up next to him. He leans over, sleepily, kisses me and dozes off again. I lie there for 15 minutes, listening to his breathing, and I relax. I go back to bed and fall asleep.
When I call the doctor the next day, he mentions practice breathing. He tells me that I could come in to have the baby's movements checked, but he's been moving normally all day long and besides, they'd have to catch the baby doing that rhythmic pulsating thing to get a clue about what it is. All my ultrasounds have been normal so far. I decide not to. I'll be back at the office in a few days for a check-up.
I've been feeling like I can wait for this baby to come; he's due by C-section three weeks from today. I'm not truly ready, although are you ever ready for that next child? But now, I'm feeling like I can't wait.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:35 AM