Firstly, this would have been a post about how things have changed between weeks 20 to 25, but that one will have to wait for a bit as one particular matter kept overtaking the majority of the post whilst I was writing – movements!
To help people understand why I feel the way I do, we first have to talk about both how and why we track little one’s movements is a little bit unconventional. My condition means that from the top of my belly button down, I have no sensation and can’t feel fetal movements. The fact is that so far, the only time I’ve been able to ‘feel’ was last week when little one took one good swipe at my ribs and dislocated two of them! Because of my condition, Alex was the first to feel little one’s movements, and it’s something I’m super jealous over as it’s usually the person who’s carrying that gets to feel movements for a few weeks before anyone else can!
So instead of going about my day whilst tracking them, my life has revolved around putting my hands on my stomach (Alex often joins in at home to cover more ground) every 90 minutes for 10-15 minutes each time since the day Alex felt bumps first movement. So essentially, we’re palpating for little one’s activity and seeing what they’re up to in there! It’s something I knew we’d have to do, but nothing could have prepared me for how complex tracking movements via this method can be since it’s only giving us a snippet of their routine. So imagine the panic we go through each time we don’t get anything when we are palpating.
The one thing that is drummed into you when you’re pregnant is to track movements, that they are how you know your little one is well, and that episodes of reduced movements should be reported to your hospital. Of course, there are plenty of varying opinions on how much activity is normal, but only you know your little ones routine.
For most, spotting reduced movements is pretty easy but for us, only being able to feel movements by palpating them means that it’s challenging to decide when to pick up the phone. My first episode happened just shy of 24 weeks, so I phoned my midwife, who quickly decided a trip up to the hospital was needed. Since then, I’ve had four more episodes of reduced movement, three of those being in the last week. The difficulty in knowing when to phone about movements is made more challenging, especially as when I’ve asked about when Alex and I should be worrying, none of those I’ve asked has a concrete answer, and the difficulties in monitoring don’t end there.
Anyone who’s had a CTG or knows what one is will probably know that there are set criteria you have to meet for the monitor to return a normal result. Unfortunately, it can be tricky for a CTG to produce a normal result between 26 and 28 weeks, from what various doctors have told us. However, my condition makes it even more likely for monitorings not to meet the criteria.
Firstly, having to palpate for movements is difficult when the monitors are one your tum! But it’s the only way I can feel movement, and when I do, taking my hand off to press the button linked up to the machine often interferes with the monitoring to the point that we’ve had a loss of contact on some occasions.
Secondly, my heart rate tends to run high – something that not only does the monitor not like, but it’s resulted in the monitor thinking that it’s picking up little one when it’s my heart rate that it’s picked up. It’s often picked up pretty quickly, but when little one shifts away, the monitoring ends up picking up my heart rate again, which means a lot of moving the monitoring plates around!
Not meeting criteria always means having to see the doctors before we can go home, and visits during pregnancy have become so regular that I’m on first name terms with half of them, especially as there were many hospital trips at the height of my battle with hyperemesis gravidarum. The silver lining is that my history doesn’t need to be explained as they already know about me, but it gets to a point where it starts to run you down, and no amount of people telling you it’s ok to be worried can stop you from feeling like you’re becoming a nuisance.
Feeling like a nuisance
Even if it shouldn’t, going back and forth to the hospital for the same thing gets me down. But, luckily, most of the staff are extremely understanding of the rather unique situation I’m in, even if it’s not something that they come across on a day-to-day basis which I feel lucky for because I know that’s not the same for everyone.
However, there’s been one time where I have felt dismayed by the response I received when I told one of the midwives how I have to palpate for movement. Not only were they confused on the phone, but they also continued to be either confused at or not able to accept the fact that because I have no sensation from the top of my belly button down, I’m unable to feel movements when I was at the hospital. It wasn’t until the doctors saw me that they changed their attitude and realised that I was serious about how my condition affects my ability to track little one.
Thankfully, since that incident, I haven’t felt disbelieved, but it’s left me feeling like a nuisance even more than I would’ve felt. I even said to one midwife in day assessment that I’m hoping my consultant can organise a plan of action regarding movements. I know the almost daily hospital visits to be monitored if little one gets into a position that makes it impossible to palpate will wear me down further and cause more stress. After all, the ongoing problems with tracking movement almost constantly remind me that I’m in a very different situation to most pregnant people.