I’m not sure how a nonstress test qualifies for testing stress. I have a feeling there are some athletes out there who wish a nonswimming test would qualify as a swim test based on the reactions I get when I prescribe a swim test. But let me just say – that will never be the case, my friends.
The visit started with an ultrasound just to measure fluid. I got plenty of fluid. And, Max is huge. All I see is his spine and his heart. Head down, this kid is ready to go. And honestly, just this past week I’ve felt different. Something is brewing. An eruption of epic magnitude that just might result in a human the size of 6 something pounds and a few uterine chunks and bits ready to blow out of my cervix. I can tell. It was Monday when I was laying on the couch miserable with achy cramps, pelvic pressure and lower back pain that I sensed something had shifted.
Soon he will be here.
The technician takes me for the test into a room with a giant chair next to a little chair. She tells me to sit in the chair. The giant chair? Yes the giant, comfy chair. I climb it. Literally it is a chair big enough for a 300 pound man. You could lose me in this chair. She reclines the chair and attaches two Velcro straps around my belly. One measures fetal heart rate. The other measures uterine activity.
Geriatric belly (above) seated in "comfy" chair with fetal heart rate monitor (all you athletes who complain about using your skinny mini heart rate monitors, pipe down). See that line leading to it? Let me introduce you to my friend linea nigra (how soon until that thing fades?).
Next to the chair is something that looks like a seismograph printing out data. I’m like a volcano. They are measuring the tectonic activity in my belly to give me a prediction of when I’ll blow. I also get a clicker to press every time I feel something – anything she says.
Fetal seismograph (above) telling me that like Mt. St. Helens, I too will blow.
I sit in the comfy chair. The computer generates a sheet of data. Meanwhile, the machine magnifies the sound of Max’s heart rate to fill the entire room. And for the first time – I’m a little freaked out. It’s beating – LOUD. The technician explained to me that he will have a baseline heart rate (you’re talking my language sister!) and then he will have accelerations with movement. Then his heart rate should return to baseline. They are looking for 2 accelerations in 20 minutes. As she explains this, Max has an acceleration. He goes from the 130s to the 160s.
All you need is one more, she said.
Max’s heart rate is erratic at best. He is in the 130s then the 160s. And as far as accelerations? I think he had 10 in the first 5 minutes. The heart rate data prints out like an elevation profile. I want to ride Max’s heart rate profile with all of its peaks and valleys. It’s all up and down. My favorite type of course to ride!
As excited as I get about the data (I LOVE DATA!), I sit there, “relaxing” (this is how most people relax, Elizabeth, sit still).
After a few minutes, the nurse comes in to look at the data.
This kid’s all over the place, isn’t he.
Yes! THAT’S MY BOY! I’ve always been told that I’m all over the place with a million things going on at once. Yet in the middle of the storm I can find absolute focus. In fact, the more my life storms, the more I can focus. I love multitasking!
Your uterus is showing some irritability.
CAN YOU BLAME IT? It’s holding 32 pounds of explosive material and has been doing so FOR THE PAST 36 WEEKS! I’d be irritable too!
Are you feeling those? she asks while pointing to the print out above the heart rate data.
Those? What are those?
Those are contractions. You’re having contractions.
Really? I feel achy and I’d really like to not be pregnant any more but I don’t feel anything painful. Except the other night while swimming at the quarry. I was at 2600 meters into my swim in the long course lanes when I got an extreme pain in my entire left side and back. Not like a cramp or a stitch, like I need to stop swimming right now and catch my breath kind of pain. I waited about a minute, then I kept swimming. I figured it might have something to do with the baby but also knew I needed to get back to the end of the lane. I was not going to give birth in the quarry. That thing is filthy, full of hair and I know I’m not the only one peeing in it!
She leaves the room and leaves me hooked up. The doctor wants more data. Max gets a little restless and his heart rate shoots up to 180. Holy crap, kid! If you’re not careful we’re going to redline here. My max heart rate is 189! Let’s not go there! I start watching the uterine graph. It stays mostly low but every once in awhile it builds up and then Max moves. How can I not feel this? My muscles are moving inside of me and I got nothing. NOTHING!
Five minutes later, the nurse comes back.
This data looks better.
But she leaves me hooked up. The comfy chair becomes uncomfortable. I want out! And now my uterus is getting tight. Maybe this is a contraction? Really – this? I feel this all the time! I always thought it was Max moving or kicking me.
A few minutes later, I’m done. I get my blood pressure taken (still low) and weighed (still high). The nurse takes me into the examining room, this one is waist down she tells me. Which is code for take off your pants. A ha! I knew it! And so it is the beginning of the end of my private part privacy. By late July, everyone will have seen it, touched it…..and a small human will have emerged from it!
OH MY GOD!
(it will never be the same, will it?)
Then I see the doctor. The doctor comes in all cute in her scrubs and takes out the graphs. Everything looks good, she tells me. Thanks! Because Nurse Ratched had me convinced I was going to give birth in the comfy chair.
You’re having a lot of uterine activity, she says. She points out all of the contractions. She said they are mild right now but should they get worse, say lasting 5 minutes for 2 hours straight, it’s time to call.
TIME TO CALL!? We don’t even have half of the baby furniture yet nor the car seat installed nor the pack n’ play assembled nor do I even own nursing bras and besides…I thought I had until July 28. You can’t go changing the race date! I’ve gotten myself ready to peak on July 28! What’s next, telling me I can’t wear my wetsuit if it’s above 78 degrees..?
(I’m sorry, I just needed a moment to get over myself)
She then asks how I’ve been feeling. Pregnant. VERY pregnant. My pelvis aches and I feel like I’m getting my period. Wait, I won’t get it – right? I’m in no mood for it!
She examines my cervix next.
Well, you’re 1 centimeter dilated, cervix is soft, I can feel his head down.
WHAT!? You mean, you’re getting all that without even looking? You can feel my baby’s head? All of a sudden I have fears that he will just fall right out in the middle of a walk or while squatting. Should I be worried? Sometimes you know you push really hard to poop, should I look at what’s left behind and expect to see……BABY!?!?! Isn’t there some kind of cork holding him in!?
I guess it’s pretty common for women to be 1 centimeter dilated at their first check up. And it means nothing. I could give birth tomorrow or on August 11th. The soft cervix, that just means it has thinned out and is ready to efface. In other words, my volcano top is getting ready to blow off. But there is no predicting when….
She looks at me.
Let’s try to get one more week out of this pregnancy.
ONE MORE WEEK?! Jesus, lady, I think my heart rate just hit 190! I thought I had 4 weeks left! All of a sudden there are a million things I need to do. I’m not ready yet!
Let’s do our best to keep him in there for another week so he is full-term.
There is a very good chance that I will last all the way to July 28th but I am thinking an even better chance that Max is coming sooner than later. What that means? Who knows. He’ll come when he’s ready but it’s good to know that my body is getting ready for it.
In the meantime, I am going to make some lists. Yesterday I thought I had nothing left to do. Today, I just remembered 294920384092384 things I have left to do. I’ve got to pack, I’ve got to hydrate, I’ve got to clean my chain (I have no idea what that is code for but it sounds like something I should do) and I need to write my race plan.
Because in the next 1 to 4 weeks I am going to have a baby.
Oh crap. Baby!? When did we get to this point? How did this happen? WHO DID THIS TO ME!?! I need more time. MORE TIME! Forget all that shit I said about getting out of me. Isn’t it cozy in there? Stay awhile. I’ll make more space!
All of a sudden, I'm wishing I had a panic switch.