Doctor’s Orders

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September 8, 2014 by Amy B

On Friday morning at approximately 5am, I couldn’t sleep. Since my alarm was set to go off in about 30 minutes anyway, I decided to get up, throw on the running stuff and go for my standard (these days) 20 minute run/walk. The weather was cool and breezy (if not downright creepy and Sleepy Hollow-esque) and I knew I wasn’t in danger of overheating. I hit a stride after a minute or two of walking and ran all the way to my out and back point. I felt good. This was going to be a good run.

Until it wasn’t. And then the round ligament pain and cramping and just general shitty feelings of trying to run with an extra 30 lbs started; I did a lot of walking on the way back.

As I got ready for work that morning, I noticed the cramping wasn’t really going away like it usually did. The normal Braxton Hicks contractions I’d felt since early on in pregnancy were coming more frequently. At one point I had to lie down on the bed for a few minutes because I was seriously in pain, another anomaly. I thought of the Babycenter emails about having more than four contractions in an hour and the other “symptoms you shouldn’t ignore during pregnancy” and wondered if I should call the doctor. I dropped my son off at daycare and explained my symptoms to our daycare provider (former OB nurse), but deep down my mind was already made up to call the office as soon as I pulled out of the driveway.

The hospital is literally a 60-second drive from her house, so I pulled into the lot and dialed up the office. As I sat on hold, I felt a little silly. This was way too early to need any monitoring, I thought. I’d gone in for fetal nonstress testing with Aaron, but it was after I’d slipped and fallen on some ice while walking from my car to work. I hadn’t suffered any trauma, and I told myself they’d just tell me to put my feet up and take it easy.

And then they didn’t. They told me to get out of my car and come up to Labor and Delivery right away for testing. I hung up the phone, sat for a few seconds, and decided to call Scott to let him know what was going on. And then I started to kind of lose it as we said goodbye and then hung up and really lost it in a brief emotional flood of panic.

I went inside, checked in and rode the elevator up to the second floor; at this point the act of walking and certainly climbing stairs was making my entire uterus contract. I knew the drill: get undressed, tie on one of the ridiculous gowns, get in bed and have two discs strapped on: one to monitor the baby’s heart rate and the other to monitor uterine activity. I answered a slew of questions from a very nice L&D nurse and settled in for a long morning of doing nothing. Left alone in the hospital room with nothing but the sound of my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor and my smartphone with a dying battery, I tried to relax.

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This was definitely not how I’d planned to spend my Friday.

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Thankfully, my regular OB was on call that day, and she walked me through the tests they were going to do while I was there: preterm labor testing, cervical check, ultrasound, etc. – nothing was a surprise to me. She looked at the long strip of paper that the machine had spit out and announced I definitely had uterine irritability. That led to a shot of Terbutaline (I had to look this up later because at the time my brain was just hearing “shot” and thinking, “what?”), which made me shaky and helped with the contractions a little bit.

Since this is child number three, I’m quite used to being poked and prodded, so the tests were no big deal, though honestly I am quite glad that cervical checks aren’t really a regular thing this early on in the third trimester. The ultrasound would need to confirm it (and it later did) but the doc reported my cervix felt thick, which is exactly what you want to hear at 28 weeks. The preterm labor test came back negative, which was a relief. The baby had a steady, regular heartbeat. Everything seemed very positive.

Then the sonographer came by, apparently directly after her smoking break (blegh). She took measurements of my cervix, amniotic fluid, and the baby’s head, stomach, femur. When she took the first measurement of the head and “31 weeks” appeared on the screen, I wasn’t fazed. “All of my kids have enormous heads,” I told her. And then she started taking other measurements. And 30-31 weeks continued to pop up on the monitor. And then I started to get a little worried.

I approached gestational diabetes this time around as if I was an old pro. I’d managed it with my last pregnancy like a fucking champ. I’d been able to keep my weight stabilized and my baby’s, too; Aaron was a normal-sized baby.

It’s been tougher this time, and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect, I haven’t completely let everything go, either. I haven’t stopped letting myself indulge every so often, but it’s a controlled indulgence.

When I look back through my logs from my last pregnancy, I ate a lot more controlled, processed foods: protein bars, granola bars, snacks that had nutrition labels stamped on the backside. This time I’ve tried to eat more whole foods: whole grains, fruit. I really want to believe in this approach, that it will be better for my baby and me, but am I failing? Because I feel like I am failing.

According to the baby emails, my baby should weigh about 2.5 pounds this week. According to the ultrasound estimations, he/she’s weighing in at well over 3 pounds. I know these are just estimates, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried this baby is going to end up being a 10 pound behemoth.

And running? Even though the doctor didn’t specifically advise against it, I know it’s time to quit. There are moments when it still feels tolerable, but on the whole, it’s not an enjoyable experience. The tiny psychological rush I get from getting out for 20 minutes isn’t worth throwing my body into early labor (at least not right now). And if I’m really honest and listen to my body, my body’s telling me to cut it out. Walk. Yoga. Take it easy.

Yesterday was my Week 29 milestone. Early on in this pregnancy, my biggest worry was making it through the summer months. Done. I’m looking at the time I have left and thinking, can I get through? Is my body going to cooperate? My mom was quick to admonish me on the phone when I reported that I was in the hospital. “You’re not 25 anymore; you need to quit running!” And while I briefly rolled my eyes after she spoke the words, I know she’s right about one thing: I’m (a lot) closer to 40 than 30, so maybe slowing down and taking it easy is a good approach for the next two(ish) months.

Just as long as she knows this: I might be on a brief running hiatus for now, and I love you, Mom, but I’ll stop running when I’m dead.

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The state of the belly at 29 weeks, encased in Oiselle.

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Runner, Eater, Mother, Tweeter

Amy, July 2013

I'm a thirty-something suburbanite turned ruralite living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Wife, mom of two, eater of all things delicious, and a runner. This is where I blather on about running and health. Baby Number Three will be here in November (so yes, I'm a little crazy), and I'm running through my pregnancy for as long as my body's willing and able. There's also more of me at amyupnorth.com. Read more here.

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