Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Let me start out by saying that baby is fine.

But we had a scare. And I have anxiety. Not a good combo.

I’ve talked on here before about my tendency to fret and worry, mostly in a jokey way, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever come right out and said that I have legit clinically diagnosed anxiety. It’s a disease just like infertility. And also like infertility, it’s not really something that’s readily understood or discussed in society. You can’t make it go away by positive thinking or relaxing. You can’t shut it off. You can do cognitive behavioral therapy, traditional talk therapy or SSRI meds, and all of those things help (although I personally haven’t tried meds), but they’re not a cure. I am currently in therapy. My therapist is good, but I only see her once a week. That leaves six other days for my mind to spin into circles.

Overall I’ve kept my anxiety fairly in check this pregnancy. I for sure had some very anxious bouts. The first trimester in particular was super scary, as was Christmastime. I’ve been keeping it together, though…for the most part.

But now? Sh*t has gone off the rails. Ever since I entered the third trimester, my anxiety has been building. My antiphospholipid antibody syndrome puts the baby at higher risk for stillbirth, so naturally I’ve been obsessing about stillbirth. Is this a productive or beneficial thing to do? Nope. Rationally, I totally know this, but anxiety doesn’t play nice with rationality. It actually beats the crap out of rationality on a regular basis.

Things kind of reached a peak over the last few days. On Tuesday evening I noticed that baby wasn’t moving as much as she normally does, so I did a kick count. A kick count is where you count the baby’s movements—you’re supposed to count 10 movements in two hours. She did her required ten movements in a pretty short span of time, so I stopped worrying.

Then later that night I woke up around 3:45 am. Baby usually wakes up every time I wake up in the night, without fail. The kid likes to party all night long already. But she didn’t wake up this time. I gave her about 20 minutes to start moving and shaking. Nothing. I ate a banana and waited. Nothing. I drank some orange juice. By this time I was wide awake, but baby wasn’t. She did eventually bust out ten movements after the OJ, but it took her the full two hours. Usually it takes her, like, five minutes. I got out of bed and was about to go into Labor & Delivery to get her checked out when Tim suggested I try drinking a Coke as a last ditch effort. I drank a Coke and it worked. She did ten kicks in about two minutes. I was semi freaked out, but figured baby was fine.

That brings us to this morning and my appointment with maternal fetal medicine. I have weekly non-stress tests now, and from 36 weeks on I’ll have them twice a week. A non-stress test is basically where you chill in a lounge chair and a nurse hooks the baby up to monitors. They are looking for baby’s heart rate to accelerate three times in 20 minutes. If that happens, they are assured that all is well. I was figuring the non-stress test would be a breeze like it was the previous week, and that it would provide me with some reassurance.

Only, the baby didn’t pass the test. The nurse told me that the baby did have some accelerations, but they weren’t fast enough. She then sent me for a biophysical profile. This is an ultrasound where they look for three things within 30 minutes:

  1. Baby needs to be seen practice breathing for at least 30 seconds
  2. Amniotic fluid levels must be adequate.
  3. Baby has to move her core back and forth three times, and she also has to show muscle tone, which means things like opening and closing her hand or flexing her leg.

She aced the practice breathing. She also had good amniotic fluid levels. But she wasn’t moving. It took that little runt almost the full 30 minutes to do her required movements. She did pass the test, but only in the nick of time. The nurse assured me that she was fine. She said she was the most conservative nurse there, and that she always errs on the cautious side, but even she felt confident baby girl was good.

So baby is ok. But I am not. I really am not.

I’m 33 weeks today, and my OB has already talked about inducing me around 39 weeks (common practice with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome), so there is an end in site. But I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next six weeks. I’m not trying to be dramatic by saying that—I really feel like I’m losing it a little. I feel completely overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. I’ve talked to my OB about these feelings. She doesn’t want me to take any anxiety medications because I’m already on so many other meds this pregnancy. She suggested therapy, which I am already doing. Basically the only course of action is to wait it out. I want this baby to be safe and healthy in my arms so badly, but right now that seems so far away.

28 thoughts on “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

  1. First, I’m so happy baby is okay. But, my friend, I have tears in my eyes. I so wish this anxiety wasn’t occurring for you. I so wish you could have the simple, easy, dream pregnancy. I know that’s not a reality and it breaks my heart.
    Please, please, know I am here for you anytime! Seriously, I’m up at all hours of the day these days, and you know how to reach me. I cannot take the anxiety away, but I am always here to listen and hopefully help dial it down a bit if possible.

  2. I’m sorry you’re so stressed out right now. I also suffer from (probably mild) anxiety and have had depression on and off since I was a young teen. I know how hard it can be, especially when everyone around you keeps saying “Just relax!” Is there any way you can get in for more frequent visits to your therapist, at least until baby is born? I’m not sure how much it would help, but it can’t hurt. Try to take heart in the fact that these Drs and nurses deal with this all the time, and if they feel confident that baby girl is doing okay then you have to try to hold on to that. Can they get you in more than once a week to MFM starting now? I know none of that is overly helpful, but please know that I understand how you’re feeling and thinking about you, sending lots of positive vibes to you and baby girl!! You’re getting so close now, try to hang in there!

  3. I am not saying I know how you feel, but I can relate, as an infertile at least. I didn’t believe in my pregnancy until he was in my arms. And at the last minute, 34 – 37 weeks I developed cholestasis which threatened Jude with stillbirth. They induced at 37.
    To have the looming doom of the worst possible risk… I understand that much. You just want them in your arms, so you can take it from there.
    You’re doing so well. Keep going. Baby is nearly here. Every day you get through is another day baby is stronger and bigger and getting more ready to meet you.

  4. I had bad anxiety in my pregnancies. (I’ve never been diagnosed but I’m sure I could be.) Do what you have to in order to get through these weeks. I went to l&d over and over with my first baby. I hated to be “that patient” but it really helped ease my mind.

    I forget, what are you on for the AAS?

  5. I can totally understand you friend. Anxiety and panic attacks are the two things i always have in past 3 pregnancies. It is not even different now. Dont worry, you are gonna be ,(already!!) a good mommie. It is completely understandable to worry after all these losses and hurdle, but try to relax sometimes. Pamper yourself.😊. The little one is an awesome fighter and he will hang in there fullterm. My prayers❤️❤️

  6. Oh hon, how stressful for you. I would be a freaking mess too. I know what my brain is up to so close to the end. I keep worrying that we’ve gotten this far only to have the world be mean and snatch our joy. Then I vanish the thought as I know it is anxiety but it is a tough road. Thinking of you. Wish I could do something to help. Just keep at those weekly tests and the kick counting. I am sure she will be fine. Maybe try visualising her safe and happy birth. I do that sometimes (always makes me burst into tears) and it helps a little xxx

  7. I wish I could send you huge reassuring hugs & make you feel better. How horrible to feel this way. I hope you can find a way of keeping your anxiety in check so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. Big love xx

  8. Oh you poor thing! I would be worried too with all the tests. I hope that you manage to make it through the next few weeks with less anxiety. I’m sure there’s nothing that will really take it away apart from actually having the baby… But I am rooting for you and I hope pregnancy hormones or something take over! Sending you hugs. Xx

  9. How awful, I too suffer from anxiety and it’s the worse. I’m glad baby is fine and I’m hoping she will move more to help ease your fears. Sometimes meditating or visualization work for me, you may want to give it a try. Though it’s so hard to control anxiety… I wish I could give you a big hug. Thinking of you 💜

  10. I am so sorry you are going through all of this right now. I have had severe anxiety issues for the past 8 years as well. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy did help me a lot, like you noted above. It helped me go from not being able to leave the house, sit through an entire class and end up at the Dr or ER at least once a week thinking I was going to die, to being able to actually do things and live life most of the time. I still get my rounds of it though, and I have noticed that it is way more intense now that I am pregnant, and I thought it would get easier as things progressed, but it is actually getting worse.

    I understand the difference between worry and anxiety. Anxiety is much more than just worry. It is life altering and even stops our world from spinning it seems. Anxiety is crippling.

    I am glad you are in therapy now. If you don’t mind me asking, What kind of therapy are you in currently? Is it basic family counselling? CBT? Maybe additional sessions or switching to another or an additional type of therapy can help get you through the rest?

    I talked to B a few days ago and told him that I think that I will need to start up therapy soon too. I know it isn’t enough just to see a perfect scan and probably even feeling baby and everything being perfect. It is a medical condition, and positive thinking doesn’t change that, just like you said.

    I hope that you can find some tools that can help you reduce some of the effects of your anxiety. Take care of yourself, whatever it takes. And know that I am thinking of you and praying for you and baby.

  11. I am so happy baby is okay and you are getting great care! Anxiety runs in my family, too, (I fair better than some of my family) so I do understand the disease. It’s like the world is spinning and you can’t get it to slow down for you. It’s the opposite of peace. I wish I could take that away from you so you could enjoy these sweet, last few weeks. You are doing great, though. You are taking care of yourself and getting both you and baby excellent care. Sometimes managing it is the best you can do and it sounds like you are doing that fantastically. Hugs! You are almost there!

  12. Sending huge hugs, and hoping that the next 6 weeks are the smoothest they possibly can be. One thing that helped me deal with my anxiety in the last weeks of pregnancy was a statistic I read about how if you pass an NST or BPP, there’s some enormously high probability (>95%) that your baby will be absolutely fine for the next week. That’s why they’re checking on her every week. And I know those “barely pass” situations are scary, but like the nurse said, they’re just being extra-cautious. I hated the weeks that Soren was sleeping and I was on the NST machine for like an hour and a half. They suck. But a pass is a pass, and it means your baby is fine. The little boogers just like to scare us every once in a while.

    You are so close. You can do this, mama. We’re all cheering for you.

  13. Tanya- you will have a beautiful and healthy baby girl in your arms. You will. I am so sorry you struggling through this and for the scare. Can you have the C-section at 38 weeks? That is just one week sooner. My sister suffers from anxiety and she always develops a mantra and repeats it over and over and it seems to calm her down. This baby will be in your arms soon. I know it and am over here totally confident and excited for this scary time to be over soon. Xo

  14. So glad baby is okay but hate that the anxiety has got you. Anxiety is an awful, awful thing. I have tried meds, I did not last long on them they were not for me. I was not sure they helped and though I know they can be a life saver I also know it is something that will resurface in my life from time to time and I need to find a coping mechanism. I tried C.B.T too, not sure if that helped or not. I do a combo of things and sometimes they work sometimes they don’t: keeping my mind occupied, keeping busy when I feel it creeping on. I do the mantra thing like Mamajo’s sister too! I talk to a very good friend I met online through miscarriage, sometimes I am fine after talking (though sometimes I have the panic and it is not triggered by anything conscious). Wish there was a simple cure. I really hope you find a way to help you through this and I am sure therapy is a step in the right direction. I know people have told me when you have been on the awful fertility miscarriage journey you never feel relaxed until baby is in your arms and your gorgeous baby will be in your arms soon. I am willing the time to fly by for you! Do not forget to reach out to your friends here when you need us. Love & hugs. xox

  15. I get it. I get all of it. My first pregnancy that ended in early miscarriage is on the same timeline as this pregnancy (just 3 years later). And I am anxious. Like panic attacks and all. My therapist just had a baby so I haven’t been able to see her, but this post is prompting me to reach out and connect. I get canned answers to my anxiety within my Christian community like o just need more faith. Like I said, I get what you are going through. Hang in there, sweet friend. I think about you often . I’m glad there is an end in sight.

  16. I am biting my tongue but. But. You are the best judge here. That’s my firm belief and my gut feeling (two different though interrelated things). I hope you have a supportive doctor who will mature baby girl’s lungs if and as need be and get baby girl out at the right time. Stillbirth is a Legit fear. If you didn’t read the awesome comments from the teaching doc who commented on my stillbirth anxiety post around 35 weeks, tell me and I will link you to it in an email. It helped me to feel validated in advocating for myself and baby a. FWIW I would be overwhelmed with anxiety in your shoes too. Hell I was aight our the APA diagnosis.

    I love you my friend. Trust you. I do. Brave mama.

  17. Tanya, I so hate that you had this scare, but am relieved you and baby are okay. Anxiety is a sneaky beast, showing up unexpectedly when things are already rough enough (I suffer from situational anxiety so I get it). I wonder if all these non-stress tests are in fact just stressing you out even more? Big hugs to you and wishes for a speedy, uneventful next six weeks. xx

  18. Your friends have given you some amazing advice – read and reread! It totally sucks that you have to go through this in the home stretch – isn’t it crazy that women make humans from start to finish and we have to actually wait for 39 weeks to meet them and see that they are okay? I agree with trusting the doctors and techs as much as you can. Also, remember that this is a super-sweet time when you are going from 3 to 4, and Colette won’t ever be your “only” again! So there’s something kind of delicious about that time together too. Or maybe just get your nails done and watch trashy tv, whatevs. Love you!

  19. Oh Sweetie, I’m sorry this 3rd trimester has you feeling so anxious. You’ve waited so long for this that I completely get why you’re feeling this way. I’m sending you so much love, hugs, and prayers for peace and that baby girl stays healthy and partying up a storm in there!

  20. I’m just now catching up on all things blogs… I think what your feeling is still normal – even with the anxiety. I have a thing, when people call me “momma”… I’m like please don’t say that just yet.. I’m not a mom… yet… and they look at me pretty weird. Until these babies are in my arms, pink and plump there is just no getting over the fears of what could happen. When baby boy is moving more than baby girl, my mind goes straight to, “well maybe he’s trying to wake her up b/c she’s not moving… why is she not moving…” I’m 32 weeks tomorrow & was also just diagnosed with Cholestasis, which means I could go at any moment really.. so its kinda scary. If I haven’t had these babies by 36 weeks they’ll induce. And our children could totally have the same birthday!

    1. OMG sorry you have cholestasis! I just got bloodwork to test for that, too, because I’ve been having some allover itching. Is your itching just on your hands and feet or is it everywhere? Is it severe? Very exciting that you are 32 weeks! Even if your babes come soon, they’ll be fine!

      1. Right at this moment its just annoying. I’ll get comfy on the couch and my leg or a spot on my back will start itching. Its worse at night, and its alllll over. My back, my chest, my legs. Funny enough – not my hands and feet so much. I’ve just started medicine, to see if it will help slow the bile production, but really this pregnancy is now a week-to-week thing. I’m hoping for at least 2 more weeks. Still need to button up a few things around the house and get just a tad bit more organized. I’m SO behind on my blog, I’ve started like three drafts.

  21. Oh Tanya my sweet sweet friend. I totally understand the 3rd trimester anxiety, especially considering all you have going on beyond the IF stuff you battled. I’m glad to hear she’s fighting along like she should though. Have you ever tried hypnotherapy? I found it helped take me to a deeper state of relaxation, and to not allow my anxiety to be as easily triggered. I wish you serenity. Xx

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