6.09.2013

Hey Old Friend...

I have to say, old friend, that I haven't missed you much at all, and I would have been perfectly fine had you not returned over the last couple of weeks.  I was actually beginning to  feel secure and comfortable after having you in my life for so many years...but for some reason you've decided to come back.  Friend is much too nice of a word for you.  Something that rhymes with "witch" is probably more accurate and appropriate for how I feel about you.  I guess it's kind of funny that I thought I might have escaped you, beings you've been part of my life for a long time.  

Oh, anxiety, I have not missed you...not one bit.  

I've been an anxious person probably my whole life.  Sleepless nights, knotted back and shoulders, always worried, pretty much for as long as I can remember.  

But it was when we started trying to have a baby, and kept trying and trying and trying and trying that my anxiety got out of control -- enough to have to have rescue medicine for panic attacks -- those moments when I thought "I'm never going to be a mom".  Six years of infertility shit will do that to a person.  

Then I got pregnant with IVF and a whole new level of anxiety came out to play.  Anxiety that kept me on my toes until each new milestone was passed.  If there's no bleeding, if we just see the heartbeat, if we make it to 12 weeks, if the fetal growth ultrasound looks good, if I feel movement,  if we just make it to viability...if if if...

I got to about 30 weeks and really started feeling good about this.  Maybe even a bit cocky.  While I knew a take home baby was never a promise, if felt like that reality was getting closer and closer.  I put my guard down a little.  I felt really positive.  I had a long awaited break from anxiety, and it was good.  

About two weeks ago, that all changed.  I started having stabbing pains in my vaginal area, I started having muscle cramps/weakness in my inner thighs, I started feeling more and more pressure in "that" area, and I woke up one morning thinking I had developed arthritis in my hands overnight.  Come to find out -- these are all normal parts of pregnancy...I was just naive to it all.  

I had my 36 week doctor's appointment and had been told I would have my cervix checked at this appointment.  I was prepared.  It was uncomfortable, but not horrible. Cervix was still closed and hard.  But afterwards, there was blood in my underwear later in the day and just an uncomfortable feeling down there -- cue anxiety.  

I had my 37 week doctor's appointment with my favorite doctor.  I didn't realize it at the time that another check would be done at this visit.  This time cervix was 1.5 cm dilated and starting to efface (soften).  Cue more anxiety in the form of "I'm so not ready for this" and "Oh my God, Dr. Google, what does this mean -- am I going to have the baby this week?"  But what I really found out is that none of it really means anything.  Women walk around all the time dilated and effaced and don't give birth till after their due date, or dilate so quickly that they don't know what hit them.  (at least there was no bleeding after this check)

On Friday I went into my 38 week appointment armed and ready.  As the nurse put out the sheet on the table, I politely asked if I could decline the exam this week.  She immediately put the sheet away and said "absolutely".  The doctor came in (my primary doctor who I've been seeing for the last 7 years through the entire infertility journey) and she asks if the nurse did not give me a sheet to change.  I tell her yes, she did, but that I was declining the exam because the numbers really don't mean anything and they just make me more anxious.    

She then proceeded to tell (lecture) me that she needed to do the exam so that if I called into the office wondering if I was in labor or not, they would have a better idea of what was going on (remembering that women walk around dilated and effaced all the time and it is no indication of pending labor) and would know "what to do with me."  Basically I was told I HAD to have the exam.  

Now of course I know I still have rights and could decline the exam, but at this point I was holding back tears and thinking -- okay if they don't do the exam, and then something happens to baby, I would never be able to live with myself.  So she left the room and I donned the sheet.  I tried to pull myself together as tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt totally disrespected.  I decided I was just going to make it through the exam, not say anything or ask any questions and get out of there as soon as possible.  

The doctor comes back in and the first words out of her mouth are "are you okay with this?" Seriously lady???  I politely said "I guess I have to be" and let her go about her business.  It was the most painful check yet, and the news was that I am now 2 cm dilated and 50ish% effaced.  (oh and I spotted for 2 days afterwards -- which as an infertile always freaks the hell out of me!)  I got dressed, left the office as quickly as possible and had a major meltdown in my car.  I was so hurt by the fact that I felt like my feelings/opinion didn't count.  Especially by my primary physician who knows what I have been through to get here.  And if she had given me a good reason for the exam, then I would have been okay with it, but to tell me it's really just a convenience factor for them should I call in later, just makes me mad.  

I already had my 39 week appointment set up with her, but I can guarantee you that I am changing that first thing tomorrow morning.  I can also guarantee that I will try to decline the check again this week...if I get that far.  

I'm incredibly grateful for where I am right now.  Please don't get me wrong.  But this unknown, of when baby will make their appearance, is really causing me some issues (and I'm not even much of a control freak) that I never expected.  I feel like I'm in the "two week wait" period again.  


4 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about that experience! I am no stranger to anxiety myself, and those cervical checks are awful -- I think they would provoke anxiety even in someone who didn't have it before.

    My understanding is that your actual level of dilation/effacement isn't really the issue at this stage (as long as you're not more than about 4cm), but what they're really looking for is a rate of change, which is why they keep doing the checks. But really, it's not as though the rate of change in your cervix is the only possible indication of labor, so I don't see why they couldn't lay off the checks if it's painful, making you bleed, and provoking anxiety like that. I hope you're able to come to an understanding with the doctor you see at your next appointment.

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  2. First off, I'm so sorry the last doctor's visit was so stressful. Anxiety is an awful thing and I really hope that you're able to work with your doctors to reach a compromise.

    My big question is why they are monitoring your cervix at this stage. I think Ginger's comment answered that for me. But I also think this is something that they should be able to answer for you. If this exam is resulting in massive bouts of anxiety, they need to know that so they can work with you. Hence I would bring this up at your next appointment. Wishing you lots of luck and hoping that your anxiety is called into check very soon.

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  3. I'm sorry you've been so anxious, J.J. I'm glad you tried to speak up for what you wanted at your doctor's office, even if you couldn't avoid the check.
    Yes, the anxiety of when the baby will show up is huge, compounded by the unknown of what birth is like. Try to cut yourself some slack and do all the things that help you reduce your anxiety. There are things you have power over and things you don't. Trust that you will be ok to face whatever is sent your way.
    I SO look forward to hearing of the birth of your child. I'm very excited for you.

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  4. If it test will be causing substantial bouts of anxiety, they must are aware that to allow them to work with an individual. For this reason I'd personally provide this way up at your up coming session. Wishing you lots involving good fortune as well as wishing your stress and anxiety is called in to check immediately.
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