We’re at the beginning of the 34th week. A couple weeks ago we started weekly biophysical profiles (BPPs) in addition to regularly scheduled prenatal checkups. It was about that same time that my anxiety really ramped up. If it takes a few minutes for Dragon to give me the first boot during our daily kick count, I immediately think the worst. If I can’t recall baby punches in the wee hours of the morning like usual, I bust out the home Doppler. If Dragon’s movements seem weaker than normal, I assume it’s because the blood supply is slowly being cut off and my child is making its last, feeble attempts to survive. If I feel vigorous activity, I worry that it is the baby trying to disentangle itself from the cord.
So I worry when I don’t feel movement, I worry when I do. These past weeks I’ve been feeling very fearful. While it’s nice to see Dragon via ultrasound each week and have a non-stress test (NST), it does little to allay my concerns. Everything was healthy with A until suddenly he was dead. He passed his NST with flying colors mere days before we discovered he had died. Who is to say baby Dragon won’t die on my way home from the hospital after our weekly BPP or at any given point. Unless I am hooked up 24/7 to a monitor, I will not have peace-of-mind.
I am particularly scared overnight. I’ve read various places that most babies die in utero overnight. Dr. Jane Warland has a theory about borderline low blood pressure and how the fluctuation in maternal daytime blood pressure to resting or sleeping blood pressure could be drastic enough to kill a baby. I have tracked and calculated my blood pressures and I fall into this borderline category. Last pregnancy I could miraculously sleep through the night without a bathroom break as long as I ceased drinking fluids after dinner. However, this time I am intentionally drinking fluids right up to bedtime to ensure that I am getting up out of bed at least once a night to buoy my blood pressure. Still I often awake in a terror in the morning waiting for a kick or roll to tell me the baby is still alive.
Even fetal hiccups, which many medical professionals claim are a good thing because they indicate baby is practicing ‘breathing,’ scare the hell out of me. Dr. Jason Collins of the Pregnancy Institute has a theory that prolonged or excessive hiccups are a baby’s reflex to try and get up off a compressed cord. Each time I feel the rhythmic thumping of Dragon’s hiccups I drop what I’m doing and note the time. Dr. Collins says a fit of hiccups lasting 10-minutes or more is cause for immediate concern. Even short bouts of hiccups frighten me because, again, I immediately assume the worst.
You can read more about Dr. Collins’ research, which is geared mostly toward the umbilical cord, by downloading his book for free via his website. I have personally spoken to him on the telephone and was impressed by his willingness to take the time and answer questions of a non-paying, non-patient who lives in another state. Supposedly women have called him out of the blue after finding his website, reported current symptoms to him over the phone and he’s occasionally instructed them to report immediately to the hospital. This has, according to him, saved more than one baby.
Note: The wonderful book, They Were Still Born, summarizes both Dr. Warland's and Dr. Collins' research.