“Non-stress test” is an oxymoron

This Monday, we had our free 3D ultrasound at our OB’s office. I was looking forward to this appointment and had in mind for it to be a rare “fun-only” visit.  The images were very cool and we came away with some neat pictures on a disc which I will surely treasure and have been staring at since, but the appointment itself wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped.  Josh and I had to drive separately as we were both working beforehand.  He called me and said he was running late and to try to stall them.  I asked the receptionist if I might see my OB before the ultrasound instead of after, but she informed me the ultrasound tech was running ahead and the doctor was running behind, so that wouldn’t be possible.  I usually have to wait at least 15 minutes (often more) in the waiting room, but this time I was called right back.  As we were walking back, I told the ultrasound tech that my husband was running late, hoping she might go slow or delay, but she didn’t. This was just a fill-in tech as my OB just lost her new tech and hasn’t found a replacement yet.  This tech used to work for my doctor and was just pinch-hitting for a few days. She told me she had flown in from Denver that morning and I was her last appointment of the day.

When she started to get me ready, I told her I’d never had a 3D ultrasound before and I was excited.  She said something like that we’d see what we got because ultrasound pictures depend on the “position of the baby and the size of the mom”.  Like she was cautioning me not to be too hopeful. Aside from the reminders of our loss of Luke, this is the thing I hate most about these appointments with various strangers–comments about my weight. I feel huge shame and hurt when people say things like this.  I wish I could just be “normal” and not be fat.

She started the ultrasound and the images were awesome. I was smiling and enjoying seeing our baby in this new way. She was complaining that he insisted on putting his arm(s) in front of his face. I felt she was being pretty negative and tried to just continue to enjoy it on my own. She had me roll on my side and then got the buzzer to try to get him to move his arm. It worked briefly and she got some unimpeded face shots. The first time she buzzed, he looked pissed! It was so crazy. I saw it in a series of stills, not a stream of video, but he scrunched up his little face, opened his mouth wide like he was crying/screaming and then went back to scrunched mad face. It was cute, but it also scared me a little.  He looked like he would be very loud if I could hear him.  I realized that I have mainly been picturing quiet snuggling moments and sweet baby things, but those images were a reality check that hey, this baby is going to cry and get mad sometimes! It makes me feel like I’m not prepared, but we will figure it out. At the great suggestion of my friend Bethany, I have been praying for a happy, easy baby, but he did not look like that in those pictures. However, Josh said (and this is a great point), “Well, he was getting buzzed with a loud buzzer!” Can’t really blame him.  And really, you know I will be so thankful and ecstatic to bring this baby home even if he is the most difficult, grumpy baby on the planet.

Josh arrived when she was almost done and I hoped that his arrival would spur her to go a bit longer for his benefit. She only went on for a couple of minutes. She did go back through the still images she had saved to at least show him those on the screen.  It was about 30 minutes total.

We met with the doctor next. She asked if we had started my non-stress tests yet and I said no, we need to. I had realized she had forgotten to put that on my sheet for this appointment, but was okay with waiting until the end of this week to start them. Instead, she wanted me to do one immediately.  I was not mentally prepared for this.  She spoke with us briefly and then walked us down to the room for the first one. We went through the somewhat awkward procedure of strapping monitors around my bulk and velcroing them in place and I sat down in the recliner. Josh told the nurse (one I’d never seen before), “This is how we found out we lost our first son”. At which point, all that I’d been feeling broke free and I started crying. It made the nurse think she had to rush to find his heartbeat, which was actually not the issue since I’d just seen him moving and was feeling him. It just brought me back to that awful Monday morning on May 13, 2013 when we went for an NST and appointment and they couldn’t find his heartbeat. It had always taken a little bit to zero in on his heartbeat, so I didn’t panic in the NST room at first. It was when we went across the hall to the ultrasound equipment and they didn’t turn the screen on and I watched the doctor and nurse’s faces looking grim. I kept expecting them to say, “Oh, there he is!” Instead, it was quiet for a long time and then the doctor said, “Okay, so there’s no heartbeat”. And the nightmare began.

Josh said, “I didn’t mean to make you upset” but I was glad he let them know that and thankful he was there to be with me during that first one. I had to press the monitor into my tummy to get a clear read and he did it for me so my arm wouldn’t get tired, which was nice. Then he helped me cinch the straps tighter so that we didn’t have to continuously hold the sensor. It was good to have him there. I wish he was able to come with me more often.

I was not excited about beginning these NST’s that never indicated a problem with Luke and that were part of our most horrible day ever. But I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did. That first one really shook me and so did the second one on Friday. I cried a little during both and sobbed when I left. On Friday, when I arrived to do that second NST, I told the nurse who was taking my blood pressure (another one I didn’t know—strange, I usually have the same nurse who I like and who cracks jokes) that I didn’t like the NST’s. She said, “You don’t? Why not?” I told her I’d had a bad past experience and left it at that because I felt the tears ready to start if I said more. She told me that another mom had been almost asleep during her NST and had told her it was the “most relaxing part of her day”, laying in the recliner and pushing the little button when she felt her baby move. All I could say was, “I don’t feel that way about them.”

Thankfully, once I got into the room to get strapped up, one of the nurse practitioners came in to help. Again, it was someone I hadn’t met, but this one was really wonderful. She made it clear she knew my history and asked kindly if the tests gave me anxiety. It was a relief to finally` have someone get that. She made efforts to make me laugh and help me be comfortable. She told me it was likely to be an emotional month that we have left and to let them know if they could help in any way. When I was leaving, she told me I was one of their “VIPs” and to come in or call anytime I had any concern. She said if I ever worry the baby is not moving as much, just to come in and they will check him out. I was thankful for her. I hope she clued in the clueless nurse. When she looked at the NST results that showed a rise in heart rate each time the baby moved, she called the results “textbook”. This was praise, but unknown to her, it stung because that is exactly the same term my previous OB used about Luke’s NSTs.

I have made it through the first two. Hopefully they will get easier. This week, amongst quite a bit of other stuff (extra busy week this week), I have three Dr appointments—2 in our hometown for the NSTs and to see my OB and 1 in Phoenix at the perinatal office for a fluid check and to meet with that doctor. But! We only have less than 4 weeks left. (25 days to be exact, according to my dad who shouted “25 days baby!” to my stomach at church this morning.) I can do it, with help from God and family and friends. I am finding myself to be very emotional. I am excited, scared and unsure about many things including my own ability to properly care for a baby. But when I am able to actually picture holding this baby boy, my heart swells and feels like it’s going to burst.

Thanks for sharing in our journey and providing your continued prayers and support. I couldn’t be doing this without you wonderful blog friends and all the prayers. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you in return.

Oh!  and here are some of the pictures!

BABY BOY 2_21-20140714-192400-3-1 BABY BOY 2_34-20140714-192413-1-1BABY BOY 2_55-20140714-192418-1-1wf BABY BOY 2_18-20140714-

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7 thoughts on ““Non-stress test” is an oxymoron

  1. Awesome pictures! This guy is rolling right along!

    You’re right where you’re supposed to be, it sounds like. We found that last month to be torture. In a way, we were lucky that Zoe loved drama, which is strange for a really laid-back girl.

    We’ll keep praying. You’re doing an amazing thing here. The finish line is in sight! It won’t feel like it until you’ve got this guy in your arms, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You are getting really, really close, and it’s going to work out this time. It really is. 🙂

    • Thank you! Yours’ and Becky’s words always help so much. I really, really appreciate all your encouragement and support. Especially coming from people who have walked this same path before me:)

  2. They do get easier after the first few. I’m lucky, the nurses at the hospital are all amazing – there are two chairs in the nst room, one which I sat in when they couldn’t find Taidgh’s heartbeat. They always keep the other one for me.

    Hang on in there, not long to go!

  3. Wow! Such similar feelings and emotions you are talking about that I experienced too! Yes, I just had my third “non-stress” test, and totally agree with you that it is stressful. Apparently not for baby, but for me, I would freak out “What if he wouldn’t move enough?” “what if I couldn’t feel him turn like normal?” But each one has gotten a lil less stressful…a lil…

  4. Oh, and I love your pics…My son’s one hand is ALWAYS up at his face,but the doctors/nurses only laugh about it. They have never ‘buzzed’ him, and for that, I’m glad.

  5. I have been trying to comment on your posts for months now, but it’s very hard to comment on my ipad and it keeps getting erased. I am so happy your pregnancy is going well! Try and stay positive-the end is near! But don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like your concerns are being blown off. Good luck! 🙂

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