RFM

29 weeks + 4 days pregnant 

Yesterday was a tough day. As we gradually approach the week of gestation at which we lost Nieve my anxiety is reaching new heights. 

Sprocket has been getting hiccups a lot lately, maybe two or three times a day. My ‘friend’ Doctor Google led me to a frightening article which suggested it could be due to cord compression and should be investigated. When I mentioned it to my midwife it was quickly dismissed. I’ve since quizzed several nurses, doctors and consultants about it and they’ve all told me it’s absolutely nothing to worry about. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times they tell me it’s common/ normal/ natural/ a good thing/ the sign of a healthy baby… I can’t shift the paranoia. I think it’s because I don’t fully trust medical professionals any more, afterall, they were unable to discover the reason why my baby died last time. If they don’t know why Nieve died, maybe there’s a lot of other stuff they don’t know too. I also feel that Nieve slipped through the net and I’m petrified that that will happen again with this baby. 

I woke up to Sprocket’s hiccups yesterday morning and my blood immediately ran cold. I decided that If there was a possibility that it was a sign of something sinister then I should probably go in for monitoring. I called Triage and told them I was paranoid about my baby’s hiccups but the midwife on the other end of the phone was dismissive. I explained that my fears stemmed from losing a baby last year but she seemed quite adamant that my fears were unreasonable. I wanted to insist that they just check me over anyway but I suddenly felt like I was being irrational. 

When I got off the phone I felt overwhelmed with confusion, anxiety and helplessness. I felt torn between feeling like I was overreacting and feeling like I was missing critical warning signs. It left me unsettled all day.

Sprocket had a pretty typical day of movements but I was so on edge. Was that really a movement? Are his movements lighter? Are his movements slowing down? What if he isn’t growing and that’s why his movements are light? I’d try to get on with my day but then the anxiety would become too much and I’d have to go and lie down and concentrate solely on his movements. Nothing shifted my paranoia and by the evening, when another round of hiccups kicked in, I decided to call up Triage once again.

I told them I was experiencing reduced movements, knowing that was the one thing they would take seriously and agree to assess me for. I felt almost deceitful and half worried about being put through to the same midwife from the morning and having her catch me out. I even considered changing my voice and my wording on the phone so that I wouldn’t be recognisable! But they agreed to see me right away.

I felt really emotional driving up to the hospital and the poor student midwife who tended to me in Triage was met with my tears. To her credit, she was incredible and didn’t seem at all put out by my overt display of emotion. 

Sprocket passed the CTG with flying colours but the senior midwife on duty suggested that they could bring my scheduled scan forward a few days to ease my mind, an idea which I welcomed eagerly. They asked me to wait for the doctor to confirm it, and so I waited…and waited… and waited. I waited for two and a half hours in the end. 

As I sat in there, the sights and sounds became too much. Mothers with their newborn babies being wheeled passed in a blissful post birth haze, ladies approaching the desk who had come in claiming they hadn’t felt their babies move all day, doctors rushing to an emergency in the delivery suite, a lady crying in pain with a c section wound that had reopened, the sounds of babies crying, the echo of heartrate monitors throughout the hall…

After an hour and a half I asked how much longer I would have to wait and was told that my appointment had had to be pushed back due to several emergencies. I was understanding but at the same time I explained that I only needed a date for a scan and asked if someone could telephone me instead. I was told no, I should wait but nobody could give me an approximate timescale of how much longer I would be there. 

I found it incredibly difficult being there; the place where I learned my baby had died only ten months ago. I looked up at the appointment board and read that there were eight other women waiting with ‘RFM’ written next to their names; women waiting to be assessed due to reduced fetal movements. I suddenly wondered if any of their babies had died. Were there women in the waiting room right now who were about to live through my nightmare? 

After two hours I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and decided that I would leave and call up the next day to see if they would bring my scan forward that way. I asked the midwife if I could retrieve my maternity notes to which she obliged but handed me a declaration form along with them. The form stated that I had been advised to wait but had chosen to go, indicating that I was fully responsible for anything that may come of that decision. 

I couldn’t handle it; a form which stated I was making an unwise decision for my baby and one which I had to put my name to. I couldn’t deal with the guilt and found myself in tears. The midwife was sympathetic but still insisted I wait a bit longer and I decided I’d have to stay no matter how long it took. 

Seeing that I was getting overwhelmed, the midwives offered to let me to sit in a more private and comfortable area while I waited for the doctor. It was now eleven at night and I was overcome with tiredness and emotion. I was seated in one of the assessment areas, separated from three other families by a curtain. Each of the other ladies had come in with reduced fetal movements and I could hear the voices of the cheerful midwives chatting casually to them. I found it difficult to comprehend that the voices weren’t fraught or concerned. What if one of these babies had died? I suddenly felt vulnerable and exposed to danger. I imagined the screams and cries at the other side of the curtain as a family learned that they had lost their baby. I didn’t need to imagine, I’d lived through it. 

When I was finally seen by the doctor I was an emotional wreck. The evening had been a total sensory overload which had triggered so many thoughts, feelings and memories. I was exhausted by it all. 

The Doctor booked a scan for today and I’m relieved to report that Sprocket is measuring perfectly. I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned about his growth after monitoring my weight and noting that I’d lost two pounds this week. Two of my loss mum friends are also measuring behind on dates and are being scanned weekly with talks of steroids and early delivery any time from 30 weeks which frightens me too. 

I regularly look at the odds of survival by week of gestation if Sprocket had to be delivered early. My aim is to get through as many weeks as I possibly can, to increase his survival odds, though I’m not sure that will stop the constant worry. I know it’s paranoid, I know it’s irrational but I also know that this is pregnancy after loss. 

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