Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Week 33: All Alone.

It felt absolutely bizarre to walk into the Antenatal Testing Clinic by myself today.  Finding the waiting room set up completely different than it was the last time I was here in 2012 (back then all of the chairs sat in rigid rows facing away from the door toward the television; now the chairs sit in four sections with two rows facing the door, one row directly opposite those two that faces the center of the room and one row adjacent to the door that still faces the television), I was startled by the collective curiosity that hit me as I walked into the crowded room and became immediately aware of all the couples… Every single chair, but one, was composed of a matched set of mothers- and fathers-to-be and all of them looked up in some sport-like synchronized motion when the door opened and I stepped into view.  In an ideal world, I am sure that would have elicited a walking on water kind of feeling from me or anyone else who was noticed by everyone when walking into the room, but the odd man out, something’s not quite right feeling that stuck with me as I took that last chair in the corner under the surveillance of the paired off parents was enough to make me wonder if I had spinach in my teeth or forgot my appointment was supposed to be black-tie attire required rather than pregnant mommy comfy.   

I realize that this might seem overly self-conscious of me to write about or perhaps entirely too trivial to even mention, but the strange thing about that moment wasn’t so much the receipt of these people’s innocuous attention as it was the fact that I’d never before noticed that pregnant mom’s rarely arrive at the ATC alone and when they - I guess I should say “we” - do it’s enough to distractedly drop People magazine to wonder what’s her story.  I mean, as a high risk clinic it makes sense to have someone there with you to endure whatever bad news awaits or to confirm that whatever medical phrase the doctor just said is actually a positive thing, heck that’s how I’ve been operating up until today, but to realize in such black-and-white, seriously look at your surroundings that, yep, it’s completely strange to be here without HB today was a whole new level of surreal.  Maybe I’m applying too much weight to the shift, but I’ve heard tell that going from two to three kids is the hardest transition for parents to learn and this might just be the first taste of that difference I’ve noticed. 

Anyway, so there I am (no shit) all by my lonesome at my first unaccompanied perinatal appointment dreading whatever gloom and doom report of fetal complications, maternal weight gain or what-have-you when I’m called back for the NST which, much to my shock, Baby passed within the first five minutes of being monitored.  Required to remain on the machine for a minimum of twenty minutes, the nurses let me be and read the final chapters of Lisa See’s Red Princess Mystery series (thanks for sending that AS! Loved it.) in relative peace and quiet with only the constant background noise of little one’s wub-wub-wub heart rate to distract me.  Feeling skeptically hopeful that the appointment might not be such a disaster, I went back to the waiting room (alone) and began my next book (okay, Mom, I’ll read the Eragon series… you happy?).  

Shortly there after, Lin, the Chinese sonographer who works part time at the ATC and part time at the main doctor’s office called my name.  Seeming a bit shocked to see me (alone) at the hospital rather than in the normal office environment (with husband and kids in tow), she was quite a bit more eager to chit-chat while checking on Baby.  Covering the weather, the older kids and what we can only assume is the adorable face of this Baby (he’s shy and keeps his hands in front of his face for the 3D sonograms), she could feel me tense when she began measuring the four amniotic fluid pockets around his body.  

“What were you last week?”  she asked. 

“30.0,” I responded. 

“Oh… well you’re down to 26.8!” she announced with a note of triumph.  

Taking that emotional leap of faith from tentative hope to actual happiness as a result of the appointment’s exams, I couldn’t help but smile with relief at the positive turn of numbers this measurement indicates.  See, the thing about AFI levels is that they are supposed to peak between week 32 and 36 before gradually beginning to decrease as full term approaches - so the concern for the past several weeks has been whether or not this decrease would occur or if, Heaven forbid, the AFI levels would continue to rise making for higher risk complications at the onset of birth (namely premature rupture of membranes or placental cord prolapse).  Given that this 3.2 cm reduction would indicate that Baby and I are actually headed in the right direction… holy smokes! What a weight off the world!

Practically floating into my appointment with the doctor, it was such a pleasant surprise to find the soft spoken, kiddie-gloved Dr. Nies waiting behind the desk with her welcoming smile and perpetual encouragement.  Looking over the NST and AFI results, she announced that they wouldn’t need to see me twice a week at this stage of the game as they had initially anticipated and that, if I had no questions, I was free to schedule a once weekly NST for the upcoming three weeks.  Explaining that we’d be repeating fetal measurements week 36 when we’d also be looking to go-ahead and schedule induction (did you see that?!  She said “INDUCTION!” NOT C-SECTION!) for the second week of February…  what A-W-E-S-O-M-E news. 

You can imagine the unrestrained pregnancy glow that emanated from my being as I reentered that couples-only waiting room a full five inches taller than I had when first arriving earlier in the morning.   Soaking-up the five seconds of “single-mom” fame that repeated itself in the group stare as I began to check out, there was no second-round of doubt going through my head about my vegetable-free teeth or my chic mommy-comfy outfit because, yeah, I am the third-time mom that came alone to the hospital’s high risk clinic and you know what I just did? I had a kick-butt appointment.  All by myself!

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