Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Hysterical" Pregnant Lady Calls Doctor in Wee Hours of the Morning

Alternative title: Seriously, Step Away from the Forum 

Lately when I walk from the train station to work and work to the train station, I get a bit of a side cramp. I have always assumed (and most likely this is correct) that it's round ligament pain, which is a common side effect of pregnant. It's annoying and uncomfortable, but luckily I don't get when I'm doing any other exercise (even running), just when I walk that half mile or so each morning and afternoon.

It's not that big of a deal. Then on Wednesday when I left work, the side cramp seemed to expand causing my entire abdomen to feel like it was tightening--contracting, if you will. My first thought was that this must be an episode of Braxton Hicks contractions, the sort-of fake labor contractions pregnant women get mostly in the third trimester but sometimes in the second. Again, these are no big deal, so I went running.

Twenty-seven minutes into the run, I could feel more tightening in my stomach, so I asked my running buddy if we could cut our route short. I got home, called a more-pregnant-than-me friend, and she confirmed that, yes, that sounded like Braxton Hicks contractions. Still, no big deal. I changed clothes and headed to a meeting about the community bike event I'm working on.

The meeting seemed to drag on and on. I was still uncomfortable, but mostly I was worried that the "good part" of my pregnancy had passed, and I would spend the next three months in a bad mood, constantly feeling like I had mild period cramps. Sounds like fun!

The meeting finally ended, and I went home, complaining to my husband about the contractions. Of course, at this point, it had been about four hours and I started to wonder why these weren't letting up. So, I did what any cranky pregnant woman curious about her new symptoms would do, I consulted the Internet.

Here's the thing: If you experience a major life event these days, you don't even have to go searching, the information has already found you. If you've signed up on a forum (ahem), started a gift registry, or registered for a class pertaining to the impending life change, chances are a lot of information has already been delivered to your inbox. So here's what happened to me around Monday of this week: I received about four emails with subjects along the lines: OMG YOU'RE 24 WEEKS PREGNANT OMG PRETERM LABOR OMG, each detailing potential signs of preterm labor.

Now, when I went back and read these emails, I realized I had had some stomach issues (I won't go into any more detail for fear of TMI) in the midst of the mild contractions that showed up on these signs of preterm labor lists. But still, I wasn't in pain, per say, and there was no pattern or frequency to the contractions. I asked MM what he thought. I believe his answer was, "You're fine." And I probably was. So I dropped it and, still uncomfortable, watched a few shows, ate dinner and went to bed.

MM and I are people who assume we're fine, for the most part. Sure, I'm a complainer. I don't like to be in pain, but I assume (maybe naively) that I am a healthy person who will have a largely uneventful, normal, healthy pregnancy.

And then I woke up at 3 a.m., with more contractions that felt stronger and like they were coming and going... still not really in a pattern I could discern, but not just the persistent tightness I had experienced earlier. And then I had more... er... stomach issues. So I woke up MM. "I really think I should call the doctor." He wasn't convinced that anything was really wrong, and if I could wait it out six or so hours, I had an appointment scheduled for later that morning. But in the back of my head, those emails were screaming at me, "OMG PRETERM LABOR, BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY." And really, better safe than sorry seems like reasonable advice to take when you're talking about your baby's safety.

I called my O.B.'s office at 3 o'clock in the morning. Now, to be fair, I thought I'd speak to an on-call nurse practitioner who would reassure I was fine and it would be no big deal. Nope. The answering service took my information, and about five minutes later my doctor was calling me. Now I was a little embarrassed. I didn't think I'd be potentially getting my doctor out of bed for this mess. But yep, at my practice, the doctors answer their own calls.

I explained to her my symptoms. She said it was totally appropriate for me to call, but it sounded more like this might be a mild stomach bug than signs of preterm labor, but if I had x, y or z happening (I didn't), I would need to be admitted to the hospital, or, if I was really concerned, I could come in now (with her expert opinion, I wasn't anymore).

So what did I do? I got of the phone and immediately started crying because I was so embarrassed that I had called and made a big deal out of these minor symptoms. But I noticed, the contractions had stopped. I managed to fall asleep for a few more hours, and felt, though not 100 percent, significantly better in the morning.

In hindsight, I think my body was reacting to stress that got worse as I became more convinced something was actually wrong. I had my performance review yesterday, and while I always do well on my review, I tend get a little down after them (that's some psychoanalysis for another day). Combine that with my dreading of the glucose screening test that I had to take this morning, and my guess is that I was far more anxious than I realized I was.

Though I don't know the results yet, the glucose test was not as big of a deal as I made in my head. I confided to the nurse who walked me back to the examine room that I had been nervous about it. She looked at my file and said something that I wish someone had said to me at my last appointment: "You probably don't have anything to worry about. You don't have diabetes in your family, and we check sugars in the urine at every appointment. Yours have been completely normal." Oh, well... that makes me feel about 1,000 times less freaked out than I was before.

Then I met with my doctor, who was concerned about how I was feeling about my episode in the middle of night, reassured me again that it was reasonable for me to call with concerns about those symptoms, and checked me out to make sure my cervix wasn't at all dilated (it wasn't). Everything else was normal, and my baby's heart rate was "perfect." I hate to be such a mom about shit, but it really makes me happy and weirdly proud when they tell me she's perfect (as though she has control over her heart rate and measurements).

Anyway, the moral of the story is that I am fine, unless you count being a semi-hysterical pregnant lady as not fine.

1 comment:

Angela said...

you absolutely did the right thing and are in no way hysterical. in fact, you are setting a good example for the rest of us.

what did pregnant women do before the internet? if a pregnant woman is freaking out and there is no forum around to hear her, does she really exist?