The past few weeks seem to have flown by. I guess that’s what happens when you are busy, with a capital B! We are learning though, that busy isn’t necessarily a good thing.
So many people have said to us, since Leo died, “keep busy, it’ll keep your mind occupied, stop you overthinking”. Problem is, it doesn’t actually always help. With grief, you can’t ignore your emotions. And with a subsequent pregnancy, you have to go gentle with your anxiety.
The Impact of Busy
Whilst we have really enjoyed ourselves over the past few weeks, being busy has had an impact. Being busy means I’m not always as in touch with Magpie’s movements as much as I’d like. If I feel out of touch one day, I need to recoup it the following day. The issue comes when we are also busy on the next day. Or if Magpie doesn’t feel as active. It essentially puts me into a deficit.
We are also a touch too early still for a reliable pattern to monitor. Whilst I know I need to give him some flexibility, I can’t. They are the only thing I have to act on.
The past fortnight has had a combination of busy days for us and quieter days in terms of movements. This resulted in my deficit becoming so great, that I just couldn’t catch up with myself. It’s not that I don’t feel him move, it’s that I’m essentially behind on myself, and unable to regulate my anxiety on my own.
Rebalancing an Anxiety Crash
As a result, I crashed. I felt it coming so decided to head to the Maternity Assessment Unit on Monday, the day we turned 26 weeks. I explained on the phone that I was feeling him move (literally as I was speaking!) but I just couldn’t keep on top of my anxiety. The midwife I spoke to was brilliant. She asked me to come in, and said she’d do what she could to find a way to help me manage my anxiety.
As I was now 26 weeks, it meant I could be fully monitored. For the first time I was hooked up to the machines for the best part of an hour. I also had a Doppler assessment for the blood flow from the placenta.
I also had a visit from the Perinatal Mental Health Team. They essentially gave me a full mental health MOT. They concluded that no one should really attempt to eradicate my anxiety. This is on the basis that for our situation, it’s pretty expected. I don’t require a diagnosis, I require support. So, on the mental health side of things we are in a phase of ‘watch and wait’. If it gets worse, then more support can be activated. They were incredibly understanding.
The knock on from this visit, has been guilt over Leo’s death. Recognising that we are doing so much to help Magpie, makes me feel guilty that I never did this level for Leo. Whilst, as my wife reminds me, we are only doing this much because of Leo, it’s a hard feeling to shake.
We only visited the Maternity Assessment Unit once with Leo. That was when he had already died. The midwives started hooking me up to the machines I was on, on Monday. Yet, they couldn’t find a heartbeat. I wonder, if he’d been alive, or if we went another time – would that monitoring had changed our care? Would it have shown us he was struggling?
The doppler assessment they did on Monday, is (I think) what we were scheduled to have done for Leo. We had an appointment booked, following an anomaly on his 36 week scan. Yet, he died two days later, and the day before this appointment.
There are times when you can accept what has happened, and then times when it cuts, deep. Visuals, memories. Being in the hospital is not my favourite place. Yet, it’s where we need to go now for help. It’s hard, exhausting and all-consuming.
Every anxiety crash, teaches us something. We have learnt to tackle it early. To seek help straight away. And now, to not overload ourselves. To even under load ourselves. As our plans often look minimal, but together, it can overload the system.
I hope by making changes or learning lessons, we can manage the anxiety a bit better. That said, I plan on talking to my consultant about regular monitoring. I don’t feel I need more scans, they are too much of a small snapshot. I feel it’s the longer stretches of monitoring that will settle me. To have a sense of his movements and heart beat over an hour or so.
This may allow us to balance out for longer. Who knows? Anxiety needs settling in the moment. Anything is worth trying, just to help us get through the next, and final, ten weeks or so.