Nine Hour Panic Attack

I knew today was going to be hard. I knew it was going to be a shit show of panic and anxiety. I knew I was going to be a hot mess of a rapidly beating heart and intestinal distress. This is how I do this kind of thing. This is just who I am.

My dreams last night were terrifying. People kidnapping and holding my family hostage. Faceless personas terrorizing us. Wanting to protect the ones I love but not being able to.

All this because my NT scan is this afternoon. 3pm. There are less than 6 hours now. Rationally I know I will survive the wait. Emotionally I’m much less certain.

I should have scheduled this for the early morning and taken the day. I should have known that I wasn’t strong enough to teach five classes in such an anxious state. I should have known that I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to just let it go, to breathe deeply, to be in the present moment, to accept whatever comes.

I want to do those thing. I don’t believe I have any real reason to worry. And yet I can’t shut it off. It’s like someone put on a scratched record and it has no choice but to skip back and back and back, bouncing over the same melodic phrase, a slave to the repetition–and the message.

I should have recognized my own weakness and planned around it. I was hoping to save myself a sick day. I’ve used so many caring for Isa this year and I’d love to have a few to put toward maternity leave next year.

That is, if I have reason to take maternity leave.

I am 12w1d. I heard the baby’s heartbeat on Wednesday night. I have no reason to believe anything has gone wrong. I have no reason to believe my baby has Down Syndrome, or some other horrible trisomy that is incompatible with life. I’ve not ventured into Advanced Maternal Age. The chances of all that happening haven’t skyrocketed for me yet.

But my two separate cousins had no reason to believe their first children would be the 1 in 1,500 that are born with Down Syndrome to parents under 25. It has to happen to somebody. Somebody has to be that one.

Just like somebody has to be the one that loses their pregnancy in the second trimester. Or the third. If it happens to anybody, even the smallest of percents, then it will happen to somebody.

And that somebody never has reason to think it will be them. And they very, very rarely do.

It feels like hubris to believe I’ll be on the happy side of any statistic. Not just because I’ve been on the shit side of 1%, but because I’m a realist. Horrible shit can happen to anybody. That is just a fact of life.

It’s funny the statistics we choose to pay attention to. How many people are at least somewhat frightened by flying, even though the chance of dying in a plan crash is so much less than the chance of dying in a car crash. I NEVER get into my car and wonder if this will be the day I die on my way to work. And yet I always wonder whether I am about to die when my plane thrusts itself unfathomably into the sky.

I have no idea what the statistics are that my daughter may die any number of ways. I knew what her chances were of dying of SIDS, but once that ship had sailed I never grasped on to any other horror. What are her chances of getting cancer? Of some other terminal disease? Of drowning? Of any other unimaginable horror? I just don’t focus on those things.

And yet I know every possible statistic for the possibility of having a baby of DS and the other trisomies. Of my baby dying for no recognizable reason before he is born. Of not walking away from this pregnancy with a living second child.

What is it about pregnancy that brings out the crazy in me? Is it that my lack of control is so pronounced? Or that the chances are so much higher than they are of other bad things happening? Probably some combination of the two.

All I know is I have 5 hours and 45 minutes until my scan. I don’t even know if they’ll be able to tell me anything today, and yet my heart is still racing, my stomach is still churning and my mind is still spinning in morbid circles.

And yes, I’m remembering to just breathe. But it isn’t making any of the rest of it go away.

The only thing that will make it better is a good result today. And that is the one thing I have no control over.

UPDATE: And to make matters worse, I just found out via a colleague that I was essentially thrown under the bus yesterday at a student meeting and no one came to my defense. So that is an awesome addition to my skyrocketing stress today.

8 responses

  1. There is nothing about this process that isn’t both wonderful and terrifying. You have been clearing hurdles like a champion and this is just the next one on this road. Whatever happens, you will be able to handle it. Ill be thinking of you and sending support.

  2. I think pregnancy is just plain scary. I am always nervous before scans, and for no reason. I think you’re more normal than you (we!) think.

    Good luck! It will be great, but I totally get the fear.

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  3. I hope the scan went really really well and really really boring. It is interesting what people choose to pay attention to statistics-wise. For instance, my DH has focused on every single pregnancy-gone-bad story in the news as a way of moving beyond inferitlity. It’s weird. Sorry about your work-news. Ugh.

  4. My NT Scan is next week and I’m similarly terrified. I know at my age the chance of DC is 1/400, which is pretty small, but as you said, someone has to be on the crappy side of statistics. Some people don’t seem to understand why I’m freaking out, but it has to happen to someone! At around 8 or 9 weeks I started to really panic about the scan and was up all night for around 3 days. I’ve managed to move pass the stress in the past 2 weeks but I know starting next week I’ll begin freaking out again. This is my first pregnancy after trying for a year. People say that I’ll be able to handle it either way, but I’m really not sure I will. I sometimes repeat to myself, “I’m on a journey toward becoming a mother and I will follow the journey wherever it takes me,” which has provided me some comfort, but I wonder if it will be enough. Anyway, I completely understand where you are coming from.

  5. I think that this is going to be scary no matter how you do it. My mantra? Went something like this: “This pregnancy is NOT other pregnancies. This pregnancy is not a statistic. This baby is NOT a statistic. This baby is not like any other babies I have carried, or any babies anyone else has carried. This baby is its own miracle.”

    Sometimes it helped. *hug*

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