Sunday, 30 January 2011

dopplers and scans: a retrospective

my post about dopplers and scans... i was worried about it before i posted it. i was hoping that people wouldn't read it as a criticism of their choices or a judgement on their strength. it really, really wasn't meant that way. pregnancy after loss is horribly hard and no one gets to judge how anyone else handles it. i am really, really sorry to have sounded like i might be judging anyone else's coping skills.


can i tell you some of the less exemplary reasons that i haven't gone for a scan, or don't want to use a doppler, while freaking out?

- because i'm scared that D would roll his eyes and tell me to stop panicking over nothing. (i have no reason to think he would. but i'm paranoid.)

- because i don't want to drag D out of work to take me to the hospital. i don't want them to get sick of him being in and out all the time. i don't want them to start making it awkward for him if i really do need him at some point.

- doppler... i wouldn't be able to use it without D. what if i couldn't find a heartbeat? so in the middle of the night i'd have to wake him up. if he was at work i'd have to wait. and if i had one there looking at me and i couldn't sleep i would just focus on it, and want to use it. and i would stare and stare and get myself more and more wound up.

and the biggest one of all....

- because i'm scared.

because i'm scared of not being able to find a heartbeat, and deciding whether to go to the hospital. i'm scared of going to the hospital, and having to explain that i can't find a heartbeat, and having a scan, and seeing the baby on the screen, still, unmoving, no flicker of life, too small.

i know that if something is wrong, the use of a doppler wouldn't make any difference either way. but... it feels like it would hasten the grief and the pain into my life.


another way to explain it. you know how some people can try drugs and enjoy them but never do them again, but some people are called to repeat the experience again and again, and end up addicted?

i've never tried anything, not really. i know i'm one of those people who would end up needing it to get out of bed. and i think for me, doppler use would be the same thing.

(i suspect that even in a 'normal' (not post-loss) pregnancy, if i'd started using a doppler i would end up pretty much like that.)


i agree with sally that it does most definitely depend on the circumstances of your loss. nothing would or could have saved my baby. but if i'd known that earlier intervention could have saved it, i don't think my reasoning would hold true. if i'd had appointments in my pregnancy when the midwife had listened to the heartbeat and i had heard it too, the idea of a doppler would almost certainly be more reassuring.

i also think that the distance between pregnancies is relevant. it took me nearly a year to get pregnant again. i had some distance. the anxiety and depression had started to lessen. of course, when i found out i was pregnant, the anxiety skyrocketed again, but it started from a lower baseline. if there had been less of a gap, i might not have been able to see things quite so dispassionately.

like i said last time, i have no doubt that sometimes i'm just going to go to the hospital and get the damned scan. my next scan is at 20 weeks; after that is 28 weeks then 32. will i be able to hold out eight whole weeks without seeing that my baby is OK with my own eyes? doubtful. very doubtful.

but like i said last time, too, dopplers only have negative associations for me. i've only had one used on me once, and later that day, as a direct result of that use, i found out the baby was dead. yes i would've found out sooner or later, but the doppler's use hastened that moment. in my head, the events (use of a doppler; discovering baby's death) seem interconnected.

if that wasn't the case, maybe they would feel more reassuring.


so a doppler doesn't seem like an option. and going for a scan every time i'm scared and anxious doesn't seem like much more of one. so i feel that i might as well make that into a positive choice, something i'm choosing, rather than just letting it be something falling out of terror and anxiety.

does that make any sense?

i hope it does.

i hope no one felt that i was judging them for coping differently to me. i swear, that was never my intention.


Kelly said...

Of course what you're saying makes sense! You're exactly right too, that if there's nothing that could be done then what's the point of the doppler? For me, I decided that I'd rather know than to not know, if that makes sense. I've been enjoying using it too much though and have to cut back.

Only you know what's best for you and your fear is understandable, too.

Catherine W said...

It makes sense to me and I certainly didn't feel that you were judging me.

I also agree with Sally, that it depends so much on the circumstances of the loss you have had previously. G did not die in utero and my second loss was a blighted ovum so there never was a heartbeat to find or to lose. So all my experiences with dopplers have been positive ones. I can understand why it would not be so reassuring (and probably provoke even more anxiety) for you. x

Hope's Mama said...

You make perfect sense and I hope you don't think I'd taken offence to your post. I hadn't, I promise.
I suppose another way I looked at it was that if I heard the heartbeat was very fast or very slow or sounding abnormal in any way (as I had a really good idea of what was normal for Angus and what wasn't) it meant I could rush in to hospital to get him checked out, and if I was far enough along and he was at a viable stage, it meant they might be able to rescue him and get him out. That's all his sister needed. I'm not a midwife and I'm not trained to use the doppler, but I became pretty good at it pretty quickly and honestly the times I couldn't find his heartbeat, was usually very early on in the pregnancy. And on those few occasions later in the pregnancy when I couldn't find it, it normally didn't take long (I say that now, at the time it FELT long) and I could generally hear placental sounds and feel some movement, so it wasn't always completely dire.
Obviously my last experience of the doppler and ultrasound with Hope was horrific, as there was no heartbeat to be found and there was a still 8 pound baby on the screen, but really I don't know how I would have got through Angus' pregnancy without them both being used to absolute excess. Anyone who says I was being over the top or dramatic, be damned.
But we're all different, our losses are different and we all cope in different ways. I think you're doing an amazing job and it is perfectly ok to admit you're scared.
This is damn scary, that's why we're all here for you.

Miss Ruby said...


Brooke said...

I think this makes total sense. I thought about getting a doppler the first time and I didn't for two of the reasons you said--because I thought I would get addicted to using it ALL the time and because what the F would I do if I didn't find a heartbeat? I can't even think far ahead enough to imagine how I might feel differently with a future pregnancy, but the one thing I come back to is this idea of being powerless. I can be terrified all I want, but there is not one damn thing I can do to control any of it. So what is the point of being afraid or sad or panicky before you have to be? Trust yourself to react in the future, whatever it brings--you don't have to prepare for it (you can't really prepare for it without making yourself crazy). If you could do something proactive to save your baby, you would be doing it. You ARE doing it, by trying to stay calm, by focusing on taking care of yourself. Anything else is up to fate. Breathe and let it go. (this is an anxiety mantra I write for myself as much as for you, I apologize if it comes off as obnoxious).