What a stupid, stupid day I have had. I knew today would not go my way when I awoke to find rain pouring from the sky.
Today was my first scheduled NST at 35 weeks at 10 am. I had to bring all the kids to my sister's house, which meant we had to leave home at 845. Really, we should have left at 830. I dropped the kids, gave a rundown of the schoolwork I sent along, and headed to the gas station because the van was out of stupid gasoline. I didn't have time to fill-up so I gave it about three gallons to get me there and back again. It was raining a deluge.
I get to the appointment about seven minutes late after having Dave call to tell them I was running a few minutes late. These appointments are not double booked because there is only one fetal monitoring room, but nonetheless it took them 30 minutes to call me back.
The nurse brings me back and asks if I have ever had an NST before. No. Is this my first baby? Why, no. She explains the procedure and then asks the loaded question: Did you have a good breakfast? Um, was I supposed to? "The test works better if baby has some glucose to work with." Nobody told me to eat well before coming. And I knew.
NB: I tend to have a low fasting glucose just like I tend to have low blood pressure. Nobody cares because all that matters is hypertension, diabetes, and a normal thyroid. I have a normal thyroid number so they all just shrug in my general direction. If this test relies on maternal glucose to goose the baby into proper performance, I knew right then this was not going to go well. Half a frozen sausage biscuit pair isn't going to go far. I was planning to eat for real after the appointment. You know, at 1030. IF SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME...
So she straps me all into a chair--mmm belly monitors, my favorite--assures me she will be monitoring our progress from her office over a baby monitor, and walks out of the room. Irony, there. Baby monitor. The pound, pound, pound of baby's heartbeat is being broadcast live over the air. I couldn't actually see the machine, but I guesstimated it to be around 150.
After some amount of time, she comes back into the room, looking vexed. She says baby is not responding appropriately so she takes this flashlight looking thing that vibrates and buzzes my belly with it two or three times before walking out of the room again. Pound. Pound. Pound. Move. Squirm. Pound.
More time passes. And I know. Eventually she comes back into the room, glances at the tape spit out by the machine and unceremoniously announces, "The baby has failed this test." Nice bedside manner, you have here. Don't try to soft pedal it. "You will have to have an ultrasound before you leave today. Go back to the waiting room and I'll see when Ultrasound can work you in" And then she utters the words that pretty much sum up the day. "I don't think anything is wrong, but we have to check." Of course.
Back to the waiting room, I go. It just so happens that the next ultrasound appointment is running late because of the rain. I get called back. Ultrasound nurse is a bit friendlier than NST nurse. She seems concerned. I tell her that if I had known I needed to eat a big breakfast for this test to function, I would have eaten better, but nobody told me. She says I don't need to apologize. I AM NOT APOLOGIZING. I am explaining the failure in communication WHICH IS IN NO WAY MY FAULT. Breathe, breathe. smile.
I climb onto the table. Good news! Baby is head down and has hair. Hurray. She measures all the things: heartrate (150bpm-called it), blood flow to the brain, breathing reflexes, limb movement, amniotic fluid. She announces that baby is passing the ultrasound with flying colors. Then she starts measuring baby for growth. And I know. Sigh. Let us all be shocked when she says baby is on the small side and she needs to discuss this with a doctor before I am allowed to leave. Of course. Except my doctor isn't in office on Mondays so ultrasound nurse, who I have only just met today, will discuss this issue with random OB in the office, who I have likely never met in order to decide whether I can leave.
I then deploy what I call the Grace defense. "My oldest was less than 6.5 pounds at birth and still is only in the single digit percentiles and barely weighs 70 pounds at 12 years old. That the baby might measure a little small is definitely within the realm of possibilities. We are a small people. My giant-sized daughter is only in the mid-30s in percentile." Her response: Sometimes it is just genetics, but we have to check to make sure. Of course.
Back into the waiting room, I go. By this point, I am starving. I had expected to be able to eat at least an hour prior. I think Ultrasound nurse forgets I am out there. Time passes. The door finally opens for her to call the next patient. She sees me sitting there and says, "Oh, the doctor said it was fine. You can go." Thank you very much.
It is now after 1230 and I. Am. Starving. I go to a restaurant, order too much food, eat it all down, and then feel bad for a good chunk of the day from eating too much, too fast. I have to drive home. Still pouring rain. There is a jack-knifed semi leaking diesel on the interstate blocking my way home because OF COURSE THERE IS. I get through that little traffic nightmare and have to stop and fill up the van again because I have burned up my three gallons from the morning and am now filling all the way up. I pull into my sister's driveway after 230. I am totally beat.
What a stupid, stupid day. This is why I am deeply skeptical of all this testing and interventions. At no point did I ever get the impression that any medical person I interacted with had any true concern about me or the baby. They all seemed to think everything was fine, as did I. But we sure as heck had to check a lot of boxes on our way. And I get to do it all again on Thursday when you will be sure I will eat more than one frozen sausage biscuit for redacted breakfast.