That title in itself sounds pretty official and moreover damn scary for a pregnant woman, but it’s what I was officially admitted to maternity triage for on Friday night.
I really struggled with tiredness for the majority of last week, so when, on Thursday evening, I realised that I hadn’t felt the baby move very much, I berated myself for being a tad selfish and thought it was just because I’d spent more time worrying about myself than Little R-M and headed to bed. After all, I’d never been told to look out for this situation or anything else about movement.
Even though (due to an anterior placenta) I have only really been feeling movement for a few weeks, we’ve already got into a bit of a pattern with kicks and somersaults and the like and Little R-M seems to have a party when I am trying to wrench myself out of bed of a morning, when I have my morning coffee, sometime during the mid-afternoon and then after dinner (I’m not sure if this is a recommendation or loathing of my cooking, but I’m plumping for the former.) So when I hadn’t felt anything by the time I got up on Friday morning, it really started to play on my mind.
I went to work and started the stupid google search for ‘reduced movement in pregnancy’ or some such like. Don’t search it – it’s terrifying. I told Mr M that I still hadn’t felt it and he said it was probably nothing to worry about, so I tried to put a smile on and put it to the back of my mind. I had a few reassuring flutters at lunchtime, but my instinct was saying that something wasn’t right.
By mid-afternoon, I had decided to be sensible and refer to a reliable source of information which I had seen many other bloggers, pregnant women and nursery companies referring to on social media – Count the Kicks. I can’t say that this did anything to allay my fears, but what it did was to give me some great advice.
When I got home, I tried (and failed) to pretend to my mum on the phone that I was fine, I bit Mr M’s head off (poor, long-suffering man) and promptly went to bed to lie quietly and see if I could feel anything. I couldn’t. So I went out to Mr M and after a quick apology, burst into tears. He suggested calling the midwife, who immediately told me to go in and get checked.
It was 8.15 by the time we arrived at the hospital and my heart sank when I saw the packed out triage waiting room. I was still feeling as though I could be making a fuss over nothing and I was embarrassed in case there was absolutely nothing wrong and we were wasting people’s time.
I then found out I was in the wrong hospital. Don’t judge. I do know I’m not having the baby there, but the sheet in my notes only gave me the number for this hospital, so I assumed, wrongly, that it was the only local triage facility. Luckily they saw me there anyway.
At 11pm, I was hooked up to a monitor. Immediately they found a heartbeat, and the relief coursing through me was greater than any other I have felt. I sat on the monitor for 70 minutes and they tracked a regular, strong heartbeat, 15 movements and no signs of distress. They were happy that all was fine. I was mortified at being the paranoid first time mum who I’m sure the maternity team must roll their eyes at in the staff room, and Mr M was grinning from ear to ear that all was fine.
It seems that Little R-M had just moved behind my placenta, so although it was having its usual party in there, I couldn’t feel it. Nor join in with it for that matter.
So I am left with the dilemma of how do I know if it has moved, or if there is a problem. I am now terrified that I will be blase, thinking it is hiding behind the placenta, when something awful is happening and I’m ignoring it.
I am also rather angry. At no point in my antenatal care has anyone told me that I ought to be looking out for a routine in my baby’s movement. Nobody has explained the risks of reduced fetal movement, and had my (later proved wrong) maternal instinct not kicked in, I could well have ignored some potentially dangerous warning signs. Had my lovely husband not been there to gently persuade me to call the midwife, I could have given in to my worry that I was being my usual self and over worrying about things and not been checked out.
As for not even having the correct numbers to call in an emergency or if you need advice… I ask you. How difficult is it to put the correct piece of paper in a pack?
I realise that we are incredibly lucky to have the NHS in the UK, and I also understand how much pressure all of our health professionals are under with decreasing budgets, etc. But surely we should be giving first time pregnant women the necessary information to make sensible decisions, to not feel alone and as if they have nowhere to turn for advice. It could be as simple as a checklist to tick off as the midwife goes through the information with you,
We were lucky this time and as I write, Little R-M is having a womb party and all is fine. But it could have been a different story and I hate to think of others out there who don’t know or don’t realise the importance of tracking movements and leave it too late.
If we get a symptom of illness ourselves, as adults, we know what is normal. We know if we regularly suffer from migraines, that a sudden headache is nothing to worry about, for example.
But when you have a new life inside you for the very first time, it’s a terrifying place to be as everything is unexpected, new and unknown. Those who do know should support and guide us through these times.
Can I send all pregnant ladies over to Mama Academy and Count the Kicks to glean some very useful information that I believe we should be given as a matter of course, but that these charities are working hard to ensure we have access to. Ironically, Saturday morning saw the arrival of my new Mama Academy Wellbeing Wallet for my maternity notes, with some tips on movement that would actually have had me heading to hospital with much more confidence that I was doing the right thing, rather than feeling like a bit of a nuisance.