The Spaces Between 

28 weeks pregnant 

I’m so blessed that Sprocket is such an active baby.  Every movement feels like validation of his wellbeing and I’m so grateful for each and every kick, prod and turn. Every day he seems to get stronger and it’s undeniable reassurance that things are on the right track. Barely a ten minute period goes by where I don’t feel him move. I feel like his high activity level is a gift from Nieve, her way of helping me cope with this pregnancy. 

I’ve read forum posts from women who complain that their baby moves too much in utero, causing discomfort and sleepless nights. These are the women who can afford to wish for a reduction in movements, who relish their thirty minute gaps in movements rather than fear them. These are a different breed of pregnant women.

I still can’t escape the paranoia that seeps in during those gaps in movement, especially when they extend for fifteen to twenty minutes.  My mind wanders, how long has it been? What if he’s suddenly died? Such negative, morbid thoughts but they feel like uncontrollable, inevitable worries after such a devestating and shocking loss last time. My mind presses play on scenes of the worst case scenario; these thoughts are so powerful, it’s like living through it all again. So easily I’m back there, replicating my final hours with Nieve. Coaxing the baby to move, willing the baby to move, begging the baby to move. 

It doesn’t matter how many times I’m proved wrong, how many times I panic only to be relieved by his activity, how much evidence I gather that he is probably ok, how many scans I have that show he is developing well. I still doubt it and unfortunately I don’t think any amount of willpower will ever change that. 

I try to reassure myself that there would probably be warning signs if he was struggling but did I ever have them with Nieve? Lately I’m haunted by a conversation I had with my midwife in my last pregnancy. I was 25 weeks pregnant and raised concerns that I wasn’t feeling much movement. She was so positive and optimistic, declaring that it would be due to my anterior placenta and as long as I felt ‘something’ every day, everything was fine. I was so reassured by her words that in the long spaces between movements (which often stretched hours with Nieve) I brushed off any concerns because I thought it was normal. But now I wonder if it wasn’t. What if I missed all the chances to save her? If I had gone in for monitoring would she still be here now? 

It’s these thoughts that drove me to go into Triage for monitoring last week. When I woke it took twenty minutes to identify definite movements and by the time he did move, the paranoia had taken over. The movements were confirmation he was ok but it wasn’t confirmation enough. I decided that I had to go in for monitoring. 

Now that I’m over 26 weeks pregnant, the midwives use electronic fetal monitoring (a CTG) to track the baby’s heartbeat and movements. This gives me a more a complete picture of baby’s wellbeing in the womb and the reassurance alongside it. I was fascinated by the charts produced by the CTG, but then inevitably it brought new questions and concerns. What did that dip on the chart mean? Would you know if the baby was stressed? Have you identified ‘stressed’ babies in the past? Is it normal/ safe for the baby’s heartbeat to speed up and slow down? I analysed the cardiotocograph sheet and luckily the midwives were extremely patient and understanding. 

The same paranoia hit again on Sunday. His kicks were softer, lighter. Still regular, but the fear and doubt took over. I decided that rather than struggle with the ‘should I/ shouldn’t I go in for monitoring’ I’d just do it anyway. I think I’m becoming a familiar face down in Triage. They’ve even given me my own set of belts for the CTG tests, assuming that I’ll be in there fairly regularly. 

I’m so grateful that the midwives in Triage have been so supportive and understanding. I’ve never once been made to feel like a nuicence or a burden on resources and I’m so grateful for that. Most of the medical professionals that I’ve met during this pregnancy have been unbelievable and recognise my need for reassurance. I feel so lucky to live in a country with such fabulous health care professionals. I really can’t fault the care I’ve been given so far in this pregnancy, care that isn’t just reserved for Sprocket, but for me too. 

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