Thursday, March 6, 2014

Baby #3 and PTSD

There are SO many joyful things happening in our lives right now. Like with anything else however when I have a bummer of a post brewing I can't write about those happy things until I get this off my chest.

My appointment last week got off on the wrong foot when the office called me at 9:05 to inform me that my ultrasound had been canceled. Since I was schedule to have my blood work and u/s done in conjunction for the quad screen without the u/s there was no reason to drive all the way to MA, yet there I was, over half way there. I was so irritated. I know that this is going to sound bratty, but they know I am driving from almost 2 hours away and I am sure they could have bumped someone else. Selfish, totally. I know it is my choice to drive from so far away but in four years of being their patient I have never once rescheduled or failed to show up for an appointment. In the end the sonographer agreed to see me during her lunch break (which I was very grateful for). As a result instead of having my u/s and then my ob appointment I had my appointments the other way around. I called Matt, who had been following me in his own car, and told him to just go to work. We agreed that he could just meet me for the u/s at 12:30.

Seeing the midwife first meant that I had not seen the baby or heard the heartbeat in the office since I was 12 weeks. We made our usual chit chat and I met her new student. As the midwife entered some data into the computer her student measured my belly and got the doppler ready to listen to the baby. I was lamenting that I have not been able to feel the baby as much as I would like as the student started looking for the baby's heartbeat. It was taking her a long time, too long. I started to feel the panic rising up in my chest. I took a few ragged breaths and then told the midwife I couldn't handle it any more and I wanted her to take over. She got up from the computer and took the doppler...and there was nothing. She locked in on my heart rate which was way too high and then started searching for the baby again. There was just nothing. No matter where she moved the probe she could not hear that baby.

I had a panic attack.

I couldn't breath, I started shaking, and I was talking but wasn't making any sense. I felt like I was drowning. Tears started rolling down my cheeks, big uncontrollable tears. The midwife tried to assure me that sometimes dopplers don't work but I was already in a panic spiral. I think what I said was, "No, I cannot do this again. I cannot find out like this. I cannot be here alone. I need to call Matt." I grabbed my bag and walked out of the exam room. I did not call Matt. I went in the bathroom and cried into my coat. After a minute or so I started to feel like I could breathe and I pulled myself together. I went back out to the waiting room and texted Matt, as casually as I could, that I was about to go into u/s and I really wanted him to get there asap.

The u/s tech came out and called my name about five minutes later but Matt was still a few minutes away. Before she had even closed the door I told the tech what had happened and without even skipping a beat she had that probe on the baby's heart before I could even lay all the way down. The baby was fine. I started to cry again and then she suggested that I use the bathroom (which I was dying to do!) and we could get started when Matt arrived. I thanked her no less than 10 times for being so kind and understanding (and for giving up her lunch break). She had just gotten started when the receptionist brought Matt in. I downplayed what had happened but I am sure he saw right through me. We held hands and oooh and awed over the baby for the next 20 minutes. I just couldn't shake what had happened though and it was hard for me to fully enjoy the appointment.

If nothing else, my reaction to not hearing the baby made me sad. Sad for myself. Sad that I am forever scarred by what has happened to me. I met with the midwife in her office after my u/s. She thinks I have PTSD. Honestly a few weeks ago I would have said that is ridiculous. Of course I am sad about my losses and of course as a result I am more anxious about my pregnancies. I really would have said that my grieving was healthy and that for the most part I had put my losses behind me. And then I had a full blown panic attack because of a doppler check. All logic went out the window. I had just heard the baby on my own doppler the night before and I had felt some tiny movements on the drive down. In that moment neither of those two things mattered. I know that plenty of expectant mothers are nervous during their appointments but my reaction/actions in that exam room surprised and scared me. I had no idea that those feelings were even there.

I don't know a lot about PTSD but from what I have read it does not accurately describe my day to day life. I am not paralyzed by fear that there is something wrong with this baby. I am not excessively anxious (though I do frequently admit to having some anxiety). It was just in that moment that I couldn't separate what had happened in the past from this pregnancy.

I don't have a neat and tidy way to wrap up this post. I had a panic attack and it scared me. The baby looked great and I haven't used my doppler since last week. I am happy and excited to be in my new house and I can't wait to share those details here. But, I had to write about what happened. It was eating at me. I am feeling slightly embarrassed to go back to the office in a few weeks but there is nothing I can do to change the way I reacted. All I can do is learn from what happened and if at all possible use that information to handle the situation better in the future. God willing something like that will never happen again.


  1. Big hugs, girl. All I can say is that I'm 100% sure I would have reacted the same way. It's just different after you lose a baby. Nothing wrong with a little panic attack here and there as long as it's not crippling you or stealing your joy!! (In my professional opinion). Big hugs!!

  2. That is so scary. I can't imagine NOT acting that same way. I'm sorry you had such a scare, but so happy for you that all was well in the end. I despise ultrasounds and get all sweaty palmed going into them because we have had so many scares :/

  3. What Julia said. So glad that you got all the tests back and they look good!