Last week, my heart started racing. I could not get it to calm down. It did not make much sense – I am certainly anxious, but nothing new had happened in the past few days. I tried everything: taking a bath, lavender scents, body butter. I spent hours lying down, exhausted. Finally one afternoon, I went for a drive and detoured to a local bookstore before picking up Quentin. The sunshine helped and I thought I was better, but moments of stillness showed that my heart was still pounding.
I began to be concerned. Frantically Googling the impacts of anxiety on the baby. Searching for a cause and a range of “normal.” All that I concluded was that I should call the doctor, just to be safe. I am also sick – head cold, stuffy, just as an added variable. The nurse asked if I was anxious and I said “of course, but no more than I have been since the beginning.” She asked my heart rate and I gave her the reading from my FitBit. She compared that to my office visits and said that it was about the same. I wanted to say “of course, but I’m always incredibly stressed when I come into the office.” I let it go though, knowing that my regular OBGYN appointment was in a few days.
I was finally able to calm enough to sleep, but not for long. I woke up and got a cup of tea at 3:00 am. My cold turned into serious sinus pressure, for which I did everything I could think of to prevent it turning into a sinus infection. The last thing I needed was needing to make a decision about taking antibiotics.
I went to my appointment this morning, alone. I had listened for the baby’s heartbeat yesterday and found it easily, so I felt reasonably comfortable that this would be a “normal” appointment. No need to bring Ger along. He has enough on his mind with an upcoming work deadline that I did not want to add to his stress by dragging him to “normal” appointments. Even though every appointment is stressful for me, no need for both of us to be suffering. He can put some distance between himself and the pregnancy, while I am tethered to it.
The doctor was one I had not seen since I delivered Nelle. She did not do the delivery, but she was the one who discharged me from the hospital. So much time had passed between the delivery, a D&C to remove my placenta, and then post-surgery recovery, that the shift had changed. Her personality is interminably bubbly. I remember her leaning over my hospital bed saying “You have two other children at home? Lots of snuggles today.” It stung badly at the time, but I couldn’t figure out why. I thought “She’s right, I should be grateful for the children I have.” It was my hospital-sponsored grief support group for parents who had experienced pregnancy and infant loss that later gave voice to my reaction: it doesn’t matter that I have other children; it didn’t make me want this baby any less.
I spoke to the doctor about my heart racing, which has still been happening sporadically. I told her that it was different than the high heart rate I’ve been having; that I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. She of course suggested anxiety, or the fact that I’ve been sick, but said that she did not want to disregard how I was feeling either, since “things are overlooked” all the time. She said that I could see my primary care provider (which is in a different practice) or see a cardiologist. She warned me that a cardiologist is a more expensive option, but I told her that I am going to hit my max out of pocket this year with insurance anyway: bring on the expensive cardiologist. I told her that even if it finds nothing, at least I can be assured that it is just anxiety and nothing else. She assured me that anxiety alone will have no negative impact on my pregnancy.
I called the cardiologist’s office as soon as I got home, in the same practice as my OBGYN. I was told that the first appointment available was in May. I informed them that would not work, since it was suggested by my OBGYN that I be seen, and that I had an incredibly high risk pregnancy. The scheduler put me on hold for a very long time, and came back telling me that she had approval to squeeze me in for tomorrow at noon. I only needed to reschedule my therapy appointment and I was all set.
Grateful that I can be seen right away, at least to give me assurances that there is not something else going on. But it is one more reminder that this is anything other than a “normal” pregnancy. One more appointment, one more doctor, one more attempt to get me through these next few months.