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.


  1. The pulsing you felt....was the baby having hiccups.

  2. or your fierce girl (right?) practicing fist bumps with her tiny fists.

    I know the feeling of sudden paranoia -- I am not by nature a worrier, but sometimes an idea will get stuck in my mind (I used to panic about leaving carseat with baby inside on top of the car -- even though I never put my carseat on top of the car).

    Looking forward to hearing about this baby coming home to your family. \\bj

  3. Would you hold me so I'd never be afraid
    As the sky falls down around us now?
    If you tell me everything will be okay,
    I'll believe you; you don't have to tell me how.
    -Laura Shigihara, Jump

  4. Sometimes when you are worrying a lot, you just have to accept that you are going to worry and let it happen. As much as we want to control worry, sometimes you just have to let it be. I kinda understand your situation though, as much as a 17 year old could. I'm having major surgery in 3 weeks and my anxiety around it(I have an anxiety disorder) has been getting worse. I wish you and your baby the best.

  5. I think it's nearly impossible not to worry during a pregnancy. I have felt those pulses before and have wondered the same thing. I have a 22 year old with a brain injury (from a car accident when she was born) and she has seizures, so I am well aware of seizures. And right now I am carrying a baby with a life-limiting diagnosis (Trisomy 13) and sometimes when I feel those pulses with his pregnancy, I think "Is he having a seizure?" because I know seizures can be a common occurrence in T13 babies. But really, there's not too much I can do at 30 weeks. It's not like I'm going to induce early or anything like that. Sometimes it's just in God's hands. But the's understandable. By the way, when my 22 year old was being treated for her brain injury, I met another mom who had a son with a severe brain injury. His father dropped him when he was just 4 weeks old. The mother had asked him to please hold the baby for an hour so that she could get some much needed sleep. He was a colicky baby, she told me. And the husband said okay, and then went out to the patio with the baby. No sooner than she got into bed and she heard a loud thump. He was moving the baby from one shoulder to the next and lost his grip. Baby fell head first onto the concrete. I was SO sad for that mom. They ended up divorcing soon after that, because she could not get it out of her head that if he had not dropped their baby, their son would still be okay. Her story broke my heart. I'm not telling this to scare you. I am telling you this because I, too, have that same worry! Ever since I met that mom and heard her story I have feared that I will drop my baby. But listen here: You are NOT going to drop your baby, and neither am I. We just won't!

    1. Oooops -- my daughter's car accident happened when she was FOUR, not when she was BORN. Major typo there!

  6. Ahhh... knowing we're being rather irrational, but not being able to shake it. A feeling I unfortunately know well. Hugs.


Thanks for sharing!

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