What do you consider to be the makings of a good check-up with your OB? I would say before yesterday my list included little or no wait, minimal weight gain, the wonderful sound of baby's heart beating, and a pleasant exchange with the health professional who will usher the baby into the world. After yesterday I have added one more thing to the list: not fainting.
I was at the doctor in the middle of a very tiring week of caring for a couple of sick kids. The doctor had scheduled me for an ultrasound and non-stress test because at 33 weeks we are to the point where we always hope things keep going along well and no unexpected problems arise. I had my ultrasound first, and I just love my ultrasound tech. She knows me by now, and she is not bored with seeing babies on that little black and white screen after all these years. She pointed out the baby's hair, and got some great shots of the baby's nose and lips, and we even saw the baby stick out her tongue.
After my ultrasound was done, she hooked me up to the baby monitors since the nurse was busy, so I could get started with my 20 minutes of watching the baby's heart rate rise and fall in response to her movements. I was so tired that it felt good to be reclining on the table listening to the heartbeat. Pretty soon I realized that the baby must be asleep because her heartbeat was a little low and she wasn't moving. And pretty soon I started to get the feeling that I get every once in a while, that the baby has crawled up past my diaphragm and is resting soundly on top of my lungs. It is horrible -- as though I am performing the usual actions required to breathe, but no air is getting inside of my lungs. I know I am breathing, but my crazy pregnant brain starts to get in a tiny panic that I cannot breathe!
Right about then my doctor came in to see that the baby hadn't moved, so he reclined the table back and jiggled her around a bit, well, not a bit, a whole lot. But she slept away. So he told me stay on the monitors a few more minutes to see if she would move. I was glad to stay on the monitors, as lots of movement and a fast heartbeat bring me great reassurance. I was however, already in a mini-panic that I could not breathe, and when he left, I was lying pretty flat on my back. Quickly I began to feel more short of breath. My heart rate was rising, but I thought I was just being crazy, so I tried to breathe and stay calm. That didn't work. In a minute, I started to feel hot and sweaty, and then I started seeing spots. By then I knew something was not right, but my brain was no longer making any sort of rational judgments. Soon my vision started going black, at which point I realized I was about to faint, which was when, thankfully, the doctor walked in just in time. I managed to say, "I don't feel so good."
He quickly got me on my side. My arms and hands felt like pins and needles and my whole body felt heavy, like I was pressed against the table. A few tears escaped because I was tired, and a little embarrassed, and it was just not how I had envisioned my morning. The nurse brought in some water and soda, and in a few minutes I felt better. The ultrasound showed everything was fine, so he took me off the monitors and said, "Next time, remind us not to let you lie on your back." Which I will be sure to do, because apparently I am one of the eight percent of pregnant women who experience supine hypotensive syndrome. It is nice knowing my little episode at the doctor's office has an official name. I don't feel quite so crazy, even though it is just a fancy way to say my blood pressure drops too low when I lie flat on my back.
After all that, I guess I could say that the visit was still a success. I had a very short wait, a lovely time with my ultrasound tech, I didn't gain any weight this week, I heard the (sleepy) heartbeat loud and clear, and I only almost fainted.
I still like my doctor, even though he almost let me succumb to the terrible grip of supine hypotensive syndrome. :) Besides, if I hadn't almost fainted all I would have to write about today is how a missing library book almost made me lose my mind, or how I had three tacos for dinner, or how Tums are my new best friend. An almost fainting story is much more exciting than all that.