September Due Date, August Surprise

September Due Date, August Surprise

Week 34 of my pregnancy and Dr Y finally had bad news for me.

I've been secretly relieved at every ultrasound that the baby is still alive, still kicking. My greatest fear was that it would die in utero and I would have no clue until the doctors told me. I'm not the most sensitive to listening to what my body tells me, so I figured I wouldn't know until science told me.

However, the bad news was actually that my fundal height wasn't what she expected for the gestational age of the baby. After 20 weeks being pregnant, most fundal heights match the weeks of pregnancy in centimeters. For example, a 28 week baby should have a fundal height of about 28 cm. My fundal height at 32 weeks was 30 cm. Dr Y didn't actually tell me until week 34 - when it was still off, still only 30 cm.

We had a talk where she told me I was getting another ultrasound in week 36. This was upsetting for a few reasons that I'll detail here. After I argued against the ultrasound a bit, Dr Y impressed upon me how serious this could potentially be. After discussing it with Eric a bit longer, I decided to do the ultrasound that Dr Y was pushing for.

At week 36 my mother-in-law, M, and I head into the office for yet another ultrasound. Afterward, I was informed that Dr Y had been worried about the baby since week 32 when the fundal height didn't match - first I'd heard of it. At week 32 the baby had been in the 30th percentile for growth, but at week 34 (since the fundal height hadn't changed), baby was in the 10th percentile. That was obviously a problem. Dr Y diagnosed the baby with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and stated we needed to closely monitor the baby from here on out. I had to come into the office every Tuesday and Friday going forward. I would take a Non-Stress Test (NST) every appointment and have an ultrasound every Tuesday. The NST is where they hook up a monitor on my stomach to listen for baby's heartbeat and one on the top of my uterus to check for contractions.

The pink is for baby's heartbeat, the blue is for uterine contractions.

The ultrasounds were primarily to check the amniotic fluid. (Turns out you have to wait about four weeks between ultrasounds for measuring baby growth, otherwise the data isn't very meaningful.) The amniotic fluid had to pass two criteria; the first was that there had to be four pockets of fluid in the 'corners' of the uterus that averaged 6 cm (or more) of fluid between them. If there was 5 cm (or less) of fluid, the uterus 'failed' the test and we had to induce labor to get the baby out. The second criteria for passing was that of the four pockets of fluid, two of the pockets had to be at least 2 cm 'deep.' Again, if this wasn't displayed, the uterus 'failed' and we'd rush off to the hospital to induce.

Since I didn't really know anything about problems during pregnancy, but I knew about bed rest, I made the joke that these precautions were a step above bed rest. Dr Y, with a deadpan face, stated 'yes.'

That was when the seriousness of the situation really hit me. Stress and shock gripped me for about two hours after that. In a minor fugue state, I went to reception to block out my appointments for the rest of the pregnancy. I called my boss, K, and repeated back to her the appointment times and dates to make sure I could have those days off work. She was very supportive, talking to me in soothing tones and telling me not to worry.

With the appointment printout in hand, M and I headed to the parking lot. M was supportive as well and stated that we'd talk more at the dinner tonight. (M and A were hosting dinner for Eric, myself, and some family friends.) After M left, I got to my car and thought about who to call next; my husband, Eric or my mother, J. Eric should hear the news first, then I'd call mom. Eric answered, but we decided that we should talk about the appointment results when he was in-person at home with me.
Immediately I called my mom and she spoke very calmly to me. She mentioned that the pelvic pressure I'd been feeling of late was the baby moving down south and preparing to come - at least it was in agreement with the doctor if we had to have the baby in August instead! This was a surprisingly good tactic to calm me down; I just had to join the 'coming sooner!' wagon that Dr Y and baby were already on.

When Eric got home I updated him on everything that I'd learned at the doctor's office. Then we jumped into the car and headed to his parents' house for dinner. When we arrived, M and E were putting the finishing touches on the food to be eaten. A was finishing the burgers outside and D was entertaining the two children. Eric stopped to talk to D while I moved into the kitchen to ask if I could help with anything. E, M, and I started talking about the new pregnancy developments.

By this point, I had processed my shock and moved on to anger. Everything about this pregnancy had been normal and proceeded in the usual manner. Until now. Now we had a curve-ball coming out of what felt like left field. There had been absolutely no warning signs that had been mentioned to us previously. Why is this the first time I'd heard about any problems? Why had no one prepared me for this? Why had all the signs been good to go until this point? I played the blame game for a while over dinner, but as everyone at the table discussed it longer, I was able to calm down and be a bit more rational. Pregnancies are good and healthy until they're not. Warning signs are a luxury that most pregnancies don't have.

At the end of the day, I was distraught that the baby might come in August when it's due date was September 11th. Ultimately, I reached the conclusion that baby health would trump my expectations every time. Besides, my mom and sister have August birthdays - at least our baby would be in familial company.

Thanks to all the people who talked me down while I was stressed; K, M, my mom, E, and D. Much love to you all.