Treading Water

** Warning: This is a pregnancy post. **

I feel as though I am still treading water in this pregnancy, getting by day-to-day (or, as it was today, hour-to-hour), just trying to survive and keep my head above water instead of drowning in an ocean of worry and anxiety.

Why is this still so hard?

For a while, I felt as if I was afloat on a life raft. I had frequent doctor appointments and ultrasounds. The end of my first trimester was in sight. I felt at peace. Now? It’s as if my raft has deflated, I’m bobbing in the open ocean, and doggie paddling to stay alive.

I can’t believe that, emotionally, I am right now essentially in the same place that I was eight weeks ago. Hopeful, but very, very nervous. Why is this? I have tried to put a finger on it, to find some explanation for the new rise of anxiety, and I have come up with a few possible answers. For the sake of clarity, let’s use bullet points:

  • I have started telling a few more people our news, and I can’t help but imagine having to then tell all of them that my baby has died, should something horrible happen.
  • I haven’t seen a medical professional of some sort in about a week-and-a-half and won’t be seeing my OB again for another two weeks. This is the longest I’ve gone in this pregnancy without that sort of reassurance.
  • I look at my belly at times and will be convinced that it has shrunk, not grown. And yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds on so many levels.
  • I am 15 weeks pregnant today and have known people (or known someone who knows someone) who have lost babies at 14 weeks. For me, getting to 15 weeks is a milestone in its own right.
  • I am now getting to the very, very end of what might be considered my greatest risk for loss…and I can’t help but worry that I will lose this baby just as I start to let my guard down.
  • I listen to Skittle’s heartbeat rather regularly (every three to four days) and, in the last week or two, the sound of it seems to have changed. It’s slowing down slightly (from being in the high 160s, to being around 150), which I think is normal…but it also sounds a bit different. Maybe that’s because it’s not quite as fast as it used to be, or maybe it’s because so many other sounds (my now-functioning placenta, the extra blood flow, and bowel sounds as I haven’t pooped in a good two or three days) are causing interference. Or maybe I’m just nuts. But I really worry that something is wrong with this baby’s heart…or that it’s not the heartbeat I’m hearing at all. I’m 98% sure that it is, but that 2% has a way of turning my worry/fear into an obsession. Suddenly, hearing the baby’s heart with a doppler brings very little peace at all.

Obviously, the last bullet point is the one that’s really getting under my skin. If anyone has any explanation or reassurance about this, I am all ears. Because I’m driving myself crazy over it, and it’s utterly exhausting. Today, I did a doppler listen four times because I didn’t love the way Skittle’s heart sounded the first three. Four freaking times! I will not be doing that again. I will not obsess over this to that extent for a single second more. I believe in God. I believe He is with me and my baby, and I believe that I have no control over any of this. This is the perfect test of how blind my faith truly is, I guess.

My other fear is that, somehow, all of this anxiety is the result of my heart knowing something my head does not. Like I’m intuiting Skittle’s fate. I was highly anxious right before losing Teddy Graham, and I have serious apprehensions that this fear is another sign of what is to come. But that is just plain ol’ crazy, am I right? Please, please someone tell me I am positively off my rocker. Please.

There are only a few things that are helping to ease any of this right now: Constant prayer. Reminding myself that, statistically, Skittle will probably be just fine, and those odds increase every day. Knowing I have been afraid before, and things have worked out before, too. And, most of all, the possibility that I am already feeling some fetal movement. I don’t know for sure. It’s awfully early, but I have heard it happens sooner with subsequent babies. Right now, the “movements” feel like little taps, pops, prods, pokes, and muscle twitches. Maybe it’s gas or, indeed, a muscle twitch. But whenever I feel it (usually a few times a day), it makes my heart leap and smile with the possibility of what it could be.

Truly, I cannot wait until I feel this baby move every day. I have never been more ready to put the damn doppler away.

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19 thoughts on “Treading Water

  1. I think that the different heartbeat noises are totally normal. The same thing happened to me and of course it freaked me out until I talked to the doctor who strongly suggested that I put the Doppler away. Of course I didn’t listen. πŸ™‚ He said that you can pick up echoes and other beat noises from the placenta and cord which can cause things to sound different or weird. This made me feel better especially when I was hearing skip beats a few times. Wow I am so excited that you are 15 weeks! How awesome! I know that we never stop worrying, but hopefully you are starting to relax a little. I can’t wait for the continued updates!! πŸ™‚ xoxo

  2. I hate that you’re feeling this way but I totally empathize. I was the exact same way, almost to the t. I would call my hubs in to listen to the hb–was it too fast? too slow? too fast THEN too slow? The heartbeat always sounded different depending on baby’s location too, if that helps. I would also go in to my OB to have her listen to it, and that really helped ease my fears. I never stopped worrying, even when I could feel baby. Did he move too much? Not enough? I think the only thing you can do is pray for the baby and pray for reassurance and peace for yourself. Remember, “do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough worries of its own” Matthew πŸ™‚ (can’t remember the exact verse). Also, Phil. 4:6 really got me through my most difficult times. Fear is NOT from God.
    Praying for you πŸ™‚

    • You’re so right…prayer is about the only control that I have. Thanks for the Bible verses. It really does help to meditate on those when my fear is getting out of control! And I’m so glad to hear that I’m not alone in the worry and anxiety.

  3. Oh boy, I can imagine me being just like you if I ever get that far in a pregnancy. I don’t have experience with being in the second trimester, but it makes sense that things would sound different as everything begins developing and growing more. Your anxiety is normal. I can’t imagine it will go away completely until you have your baby in your arms. But you’ve gotten through it this far, and you can get through the rest. Soon your little guy/girl will be moving around like crazy, which will offer some reassurance. If you have questions about the heartbeat, I’d call your doctor for some reassurance. You might sound crazy-anxious, but who cares, if you get some peace of mind? I’d do it πŸ™‚

  4. I think your high anxiety is the result of what you’ve already experienced, not what is to come. You’ve experienced great loss and heartache with the death of Teddy Graham. It’s hard not to put those feelings onto this new pregnancy. I think it’s understandable that you are worried, but I don’t think you need to be. I have never had a baby before, but I know that heartbeats do slow and there are probably changes in the sound that come with that. I would recommend putting the doppler away because you could drive yourself nuts overanalyzing it. At the same time, I understand why being able to hear the baby’s heartbeat is a reassurance. My advice would that if you keep checking for it, try to treat it like an absolute – it’s there or it isn’t. If it’s there then consider everything to be going well. Try not to analyze the quality of it. I think that should be left to the doctor. I am sending lots of positive thoughts for you and Skittle your way!

    • Thanks for the kind words and I’m sure you’re right…the anxiety is just the result of infertility and loss and nothing more. And I love your suggestion. There’s a heartbeat or there isn’t, the end. I’m not a doctor, so why am I trying to pretend I am?!

  5. I am so sorry you’re feeling this way, though I know I would probably be the same way. Whenever I start feeling anxious like that, I repeat 2 mantras to myself: “Everything is as it should be” and “Don’t borrow problems from the future.” Those two little phrases usually help me calm down at least a little bit. And I know it’s a huge cliche, but yoga really helps me!

    But I didn’t mean for this to be a comment full of advice, which I know can be super annoying. I’m sending happy, healthy, calming thoughts to you and your baby and wishing you some peace of mind.

  6. I did a fair bit of research on fetal heartbeats when I got my doppler because I worried about it sounding different too. MyLife said it well, there can be echos, picking up the cord beat, the placenta, and then the actual heartbeat. Your own heartbeat can even sneak in the background too.

    Also, it’s perfectly normal for Skittles heartbeat to slow and regulate as you entered your second tri. Just as a reference, my lo’s rate went from 160-70 to a pretty steady 130-50 between trimesters. Just as our own beats vary depending on if we’re awake, sleeping, moving, or sedentary your little one’s beat will vary slightly too.

    I threw out a lot of info and facts but honestly, your doctor is the best person to reassure you. They are there if you have any concerns or worries so don’t be afraid to call them. In the end, I’m sorry that you have such anxiety (understandable). I think about you all the time and send you lots of good thoughts and wishes!

    • Aaaahhh, thanks so much for this info, friend. I was actually going to e-mail you for advice in my panic, but was afraid then I’d sound REALLY crazy. But it’s nice to know that there can be an explanation for the changes I’m hearing. I appreciate the reassurance! xo

  7. Cassie, as a nurse, and one who did OB care for a number of years, I assure you that the slowing of the heartbeat is not only normal, but essential and healthy, as the pregnancy progresses. this is good news, not worrisome. A heart rate below 110 beats per minute gives reason to worry, anything else is your baby’s nervous system maturing. and you are correct, as the baby grows and you grow and everything else grows inside you, the sound will change. what is reassuring is that it is there. if you are worried it’s not the baby’s heartbeat, but your own, take your pulse (or have someone else) while you listen. your pulse should not be 150 πŸ™‚ please email me if you have any questions i could help answer! mandee_gene@hotmail.com

    • Thank you! I am certain it’s not my own heartbeat, because I found that with the doppler, too, and it was coming in at about 80bpm, so what else could it be but Baby? But don’t be surprised if you find an e-mail from me in your inbox one day! πŸ™‚

  8. Fifteen weeks! You’ve come so far! I have no words of wisdom about the anxiety. Just today, at 23 weeks, I was convinced that my water broke due to excessive discharge. My water is not broken. It wasn’t that much. Miscarriage and infertility are difficult to overcome. Also, my babe’s heartrate slowed down dramatically, too. Scary!

  9. I have noticed that both babies heartbeats started quite high and have indeed slowed as the pregnancy has progressed. You are still doing better than I did overall – I listened to ours almost every other day until I started feeling regular movement.

  10. Congrats on fifteen weeks! So awesome! Yay!!
    The doppler was my obsession with my first pregnancy. We listened to it every night, it was a ritual! And usually I’d sneak in and check it during the day a few times, too. We’re hoping our current pregnancy continues on strong, but no matter what, I’m not going to get a doppler this time. I can’t control my addiction! πŸ™‚ However – my OB is GREAT and really understands IF/pregnancy fears and concerns. If there was a week that I just couldn’t keep from worrying, he would let me come in for an u/s. So give your doc a call and see if they can fit you in! Don’t feel bad about it!
    Prayer is my obsession this time, too! I have to pray CONSTANTLY to keep from slipping back into worry. I think after 6 years of IF I have FINALLY learned that even if I obsess and stay on top of everything, I still can’t control the outcome. But I still have to keep reminding myself who is in charge! πŸ™‚ It’s been so much more peaceful this time. Much more peace with prayer.

  11. I know nothing about the heartbeats as I never had a doppler but that baby in there is changing every day. It’s surely only normal for his/her heartbeat to change. It’s multiplying in size and moving around more.

    How wonderful to be feeling the first bits of movement. Soon it WILL be an all day, every day thing!

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