Monday, February 23, 2009

Fetal Monitoring, Thus Far: My Progress Notes

FOREWARNING: This post is meant more for my benefit, to provide me a record of all this. I can't imagine many will actually want to read all this.

February 9th:
At our first fetal monitoring appointment, we were told my amniotic fluid level was a little low and that I should be sure to drink no less than a gallon of water each day. We were also told our baby girl was an 'overachiever' in terms of her fetal activity...

February 12th: The second fetal monitoring appointment, it was, um, disconcerting to say the very least. My fluid level had not improved at all, despite my drinking over a gallon+ of water each day since the 9th --not to mention anything else I was drinking in addition to the water. And during the monitoring itself, the observing nurse who came in to check on me and my readout every 10 minutes, she kept repeatedly asking me in various ways, while wearing various looks of either concern or skepticism on her face, if I was feeling anything odd or out of the ordinary, or if I was experiencing any unusual pain, "...lately?" or "in the last 5-10 minutes?" or "at all?" And once the 35 minutes of monitoring was over, she came in, tore off my graphic readout paper, shook her head back and forth slowly, and said she didn't like it, saying again that there were signs of distress, asking me again if I was feeling okay... and I was feeling just fine!?! All I could offer as to anything unusual going on during the monitoring was that I'd been reading what I 'd call "a smut magazine," then holding it up for her to see... it was some ridiculous celebrity gossip mag, like People or something, and as I'd been sitting there, reading it during the monitoring, I'd been laughing a lot and hard. Looking again at my readout, she again made comments about signs of distress, asking me again, using different phrasing again, if I was really feeling alright, pressing further for any admission that I was feeling anything but fine, without her ever volunteering what the hell "signs of distress" meant. And me, being pregnant and without my better half present (that would be my honey-man), my brain could only focus upon the word 'distress.' I was utterly bewildered, and entirely incapable of formulating any coherent line of questioning that I should of been asking in order to find out what "signs of distress" meant. She went on, asking me what I'd had for breakfast, how I was sleeping, if I thought I was having any contractions, etc... I tried to answer her questions honestly as I could, coming up with nothing really. She then held up my graphic readout paper in front of herself one last time, and declared with a smile, "Not bad." What?!! Huh?!? I was absolutely stunned. What the hell just happened? We went from "signs of distress," to "not bad?"

And the funny thing is this (although not as in funny, ha ha): I had chosen this session as the chance to record some of the fetal monitoring while in progress. During that video recording, I actually recognized and noted aloud that the baby's heart rate was not the usual... And what I referred to as "spikes of activity?" --those were the signs of distress. Turns out, the top line indicates the baby's heart rate and her activity, and the bottom line monitors my uterus action and the placenta's blood flow. I had confused the two lines.

I basically left their office feeling totally deflated, and spent the rest of my day at work, severely subdued. I tried to reason with myself that if "signs of distress" had meant anything remotely serious at all, they would have kept me for additional monitoring, or they would have asked me to come back for a consult with the perinatal doc, or they would have ordered some tests... something. But none of those things had happened, and the appointment ultimately ended with a "not bad." However, although I tried to resolve my upset with this line of reasoning, and I had decided (intellectually at least) that I shouldn't be worried, deciding further that the nurse's comments were simply out of line, I could not successfully reestablish a sense of assured confidence regarding the matter.

February 16th: It was a holiday that Monday, and we had the angel boy-O with us for the long weekend. I totally forgot that morning's appointment. It didn't even occur to me that I'd even missed anything that day. After the angel boy-O was in the air, returning to Burbank, it was my honey-man, later that evening, who realized we'd spaced my appointment.

February 17th: I went in to make up my missed Monday appointment, and wound up hanging out at the perinatal office for over 3 hours... First of all, I had another low-resolution sonogram in order to check my amniotic fluid level, and it had finally improved -YAY!- up from an '8' to a '9.8' (and we want a 10). So that part was good. I was also told at that time that zee baybee had, indeed, dropped and centered. However, after the sonogram, they kept me for not one, but THREE fetal monitoring sessions - - I spent over TWO HOURS with monitors strapped to my bare, preggers belly, listening to my baby's irregular heart rate, which usually averages 145-155, but instead, she was lingering around the mid-130s most of the time. Different nurses came in and out of the room to look at my readouts, each sharing their opinions with one another as to what they were looking at. They used the 'stimulus buzzer' on my lower pelvis, placed near the baby's head each time, once during the first session, and then every 1o minutes for the second monitoring session, trying to trigger the fetal activity they wanted. I asked at one point during the first session, if the baby was maybe sleeping... "No, she's not asleep. She just isn't doing anything." Great. After the second session was done, I was told my uterus was showing "signs of irritability." Again, what the hell does that mean? Three nurses then agreed I should be kept for a third session, but before it was to begin, I had to drink a Sprite and eat a snack-pack of Ritz peanut butter crackers - - and this is despite the fact that I had arrived to the appointment after having eaten a banana in the car on the way there, and it had been only an hour after I'd had a purty decent breakfast. Turns out though, a nice blood sugar spike is was did the trick, as our baby girl resumed her pogo stick theatrics throughout most of that 3rd and final monitoring session.

February 20th: Before I went, I had a tall, HUGE glass of orange juice, a banana, and a bowl of cereal, and I ate a granola bar while I sat in the waiting room. My fetal monitoring session came first and this time around, it was MUCH, MUCH better than the previous two appointments. Baby's heart rate was normal, her activity was more than steady (I finally understood which line indicated what on the readout), and my uterine activity was fine, all in the normal range. And for the low-res sonogram, my fluid level was at a perfect 10! ENORMOUS relief! Annnd, the sonogram tech tried this time to really give me a good peek at the baby's face... zee baby sweet potato girl was turning and twisting her head around a lot, so the freeze shots taken are a bit blurry (plus it was a low-res sonogram, remember), but my goodness! She has the cutest lil' nose!!! I LOVE HER NOSEY! I can't wait to plant a big, fat kiss on it! I left their office pretty elated.

After my perinatal appointment for the fetal monitoring, I was off to my OB, who verified officially as part of my medical records that the baby's head is engaged and she's turned and centered, facing my back, ready for labor... BUT I haven't dilated at all - zip, zero, zilch. This was a lil' frustrating, because that day and Thursday, I was experiencing a lot of pelvic pain and I'd been hoping it meant my cervix was beginning to stretch. Well... I found out what all that pain was yesterday!

February 23rd: Like the last appointment, I arrived after having first eaten some good carbs on the way there. Once the monitoring began though, within 5 minutes, I could see the baby's heart rate was a bit (more like a lot) all over the place, plus the line indicating my uterine activity, I had 3 spikes on the readout. As as soon as the first nurse came to check on me, I was asking her a gazillion questions. Well, so it turns out all this pain I've been having for the last few days, which I'd hoped was either my cervix stretching or just the baby actively flexing her back, it's all contractions! Yup, during my monitoring session, like clockwork, I was having contractions every 2 minutes for up to 30 seconds at a time. I sure wish I'd had my camera to record that! Every time I would have a contraction, the baby's heart rate would skyrocket to 165 or higher, and once a contraction would subside, her heart rate would abruptly drop as low as 120, slowly climbing over the following minute, back to 145, just in time for the next contraction. I was stunned. I hadn't realized 'those' were contractions... I'd thought it was all her doing. So, now that I can really recognize what these smaller contractions feel like (having one right this minute!), I've felt relieved to know my discomfort over the last few days has actually been at least something productive. So yeah, this monitoring appointment was a revealing, enlightening, and positive experience, and all the nurses let me know they were pleased.

Now I'm going to take off to get some blood work done. Goodie, goodie!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Oh my word, we are SO excited!
I couldn't see your video says I'm not invited :( I can't comment on Vegas either...could you send me the magic word?

Hooray again for baby!