Counting the kicks

WARNING: Talk of stillbirth ahead–very clinical statistics but still, it’s been suggested I put up a warning so I’m doing that now.

Yesterday was a super frustrating day. I was already in a dismal mood because of missing the epically momentous wedding, and then everything I tried to do went ridiculously wrong. I just felt so unable to catch a break, which felt like a huge insult, when I believed I was really deserving of one that day.

And then I ended up at home, when I was supposed to be visiting a friend (the traffic was so bad I couldn’t go–fucking Bay Bridge closure) and as I lay down on the couch to read a book my baby boy starting rolling and kicking inside me and I was immediately reminded how fucking crazy insanely lucky I am. It’s not like I had forgotten earlier in the day, but feeling him kick so strongly felt so reassuring. There are still these intense moments when I’m awestruck to find myself here, with this immense belly and a strong baby boy thriving inside it. I still ask myself almost daily, How did I get here? How is this my perfect life?

The anxiety has been a lot better lately. I think there are two reasons for this. One is that when I was looking up stats about stillbirth I came across this page on the March of Dimes site and the information there actually made me feel a lot better about things. While the overall stat for stillbirth (1/160) is actually higher than I had previously believed (I thought it was 1/200) hearing the breakdown of what causes those stillbirths brought me a lot of relief.

According to their site 15-20% of stillbirths are caused by birth defects. Baby boy’s scans have all been great so I don’t have a lot of fear of an unknown birth defect causing an issue. Placental problems cause 25% of stillbirths and while I know that could still happen, the fact that I’ve had a previous pregnancy without placental problems makes me feel less scared of this. Poor fetal growth is present in 40% of stillbirths, which I obviously don’t have to worry about, as baby boy is evidently giant. Infections cause 10-25% of stillbirths but these happen more commonly before 28 weeks. Chronic maternal medical conditions cause about 10% of stillbirths. That only leaves 2-4% of stillbirths being attributed to cord accidents. I realized reading that site that cord accidents (or unexplained stillbirth, which strangely wasn’t mentioned at all, though I know SOME stillbirths are unexplained) are what I’m most worried about. To read that they make up such a small percentage of the already very unlikely possibility of a stillbirth made me feel better about the whole thing.

The other thing that made me feel better was reading a personal site about kick counting. Of course I already knew about kick counting but honestly, I didn’t REALLY know what the point of it was. My baby is so active, it seemed unlikely that he’d ever not move ten times in two hours, which seems to be the scenario that will inspire concern in a doctor at Kaiser. What this site explained is that you have to do kick counts at the same time every day, record the results and then use them to recognize a pattern. Then, if your baby deviates from the pattern you can use your records to get the doctor to take your concerns to heart.

I won’t explain this woman’s story in detail, as I know many women don’t want to hear a lot about late term loss, but I will share that kick counting saved her daughter, who was born at 35.5 weeks because of an issue that was discovered because of kick counting, and was found to have a cord problem that would have killed her had she remained in the womb. Hearing that counting kicks can actually save a baby’s life (I had NEVER read of that happening before, I honestly just thought it was an ultimately useless bone that doctor’s threw scared, anxious pregnant women) made me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

Now I do kick counts most nights and I hope to start in the mornings too. My baby boy moves around so much in the evening that I get my ten counts in under ten minutes every time (sometimes in under 2-3 minutes) so I know if it takes even 20 or 30 minutes I should be concerned. It helps to know there is something proactive I can do about the kind of stillbirth that scares me the most. Even though I know something awful can still happen, I guess I’m just comforted by the reality of how truly unlikely it is, and that I can do something proactive to try to protect my son.

I’ve found, that since I areas those statistics, and that page, that when I feel my baby move I no longer wonder if something bad will happen to him in the future but feel comforted knowing that he seems strong and healthy right now, in the present. This change in perspective has made my pregnancy a lot more enjoyable.

So that is where I am on the anxiety about stillbirth front. I wanted to share those two pieces of info, in the hopes that they might ease other people’s worries. I very much hope I didn’t make anyone worry more; that was absolutely not my intent.

I hope you’re all having a great long weekend, and that you’ve forgiven me for my lame woe-is-me post yesterday. I’m ashamed for putting that out there. There are so many things so much more important than going to a wedding, no matter how many important, historic people will be there. And there are so many people who can’t keep their home, or feed their families, because of a lack of money, so I should definitely not be bitching about missing a fucking wedding because we don’t have the funds. Lame. I am lame. And I apologize.

4 responses

  1. Wow. Reading your statistics make me even more in awe of how fortunate we were with B. I didn’t realize that 40 percent was due to poor growth and also more to placenta problems. I did kick counts every night for the boy. With b I couldn’t feel her much so I couldn’t but I was in the hospital already. I think you’ll feel such relief when this is over and T is with you.

  2. I’m so grateful that Baby T is so active- you need that! Of course that probably means you are going to have one active little boy when he makes his appearance in a few weeks! Please don’t apologize for yesterday’s post- like I said in my comment, anyone would feel the same. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your long weekend and enjoy those baby kicks!

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