Friday, 28 January 2011

dopplers, and scans

thanks to carol, who has just commented. you've reminded me that i was going to write a post about why i don't want to get a doppler.

i would like to state for the record, though, that i know i'm an oddity around these parts, and that what's right for me would decidedly not be right for everyone. for some a doppler is the only way of keeping sane in pregnancy post loss, and for them i'm glad that they have that option. but for me.... well, read on.


sooo... back at the beginning of the end, i had a midwife appointment. she listened for the baby's heartbeat. couldn't find it.

it was the first time she had tried to find the heartbeat.

that, right there, is my only experience of anyone coming anywhere near me to listen for a baby's heartbeat. the only association i have with it is anxiety, with death following swiftly behind.

so far, i haven't let her try in this pregnancy.

even the mere idea of her trying to listen for my baby's heartbeat is incredibly stressful.


it's probably fair to state that this experience colours the rest of my opinion about whether doppler use is a good thing for me, or not.


i've been told that any time i'm freaking out that i can go down to the hospital and get a scan.

since then, i have freaked out more seriously and more regularly than i have done at any other time during my pregnancy. i was kind of hoping that the result would be the opposite, that knowing i had the option would mean i didn't have to use it.

so. when i freak out, i have two options:

a) call my husband, tell him to drop everything and meet me at the hospital. rush to hospital. ask for scan. get scan. find out the baby's fine. or not, obviously, but finding out the baby's fine is the most likely outcome at this stage.

b) breathe. tell someone i'm scared. cry. breathe some more. drink water, wash face. try and focus on something else. anything else. calm myself down. later on, feel the sensation-that-might-be-movement. realise that i was almost certainly freaking over nothing. be scared that i'm not freaking over nothing, and that if i'd gone to the hospital that they would have been able to do something and that i've cursed my baby. over a few hours and days realise that this is unlikely. wait for the next scan i'm due.

so. a) may sound better to most of you, but honestly? i'm not convinced.

one of the things i'm trying to do in CBT is stop worrying, and stop expecting disaster at every turn. from that point of view, when you look at my options:

a) implies that there is a really-real problem, that needs to involve medical professionals and an ultrasound scan. a) implies that my anxiety has a basis in reality - that just because i'm scared and anxious there might be something wrong with the baby, when in reality the two things aren't directly connected. yes i'm scared and anxious, and yes it's possible that there is something wrong with the baby - but those things aren't linked. there is no causality at play.

b) implies that my fears are understandable, that they are there because of a horribly traumatic experience - but that they are not intrinsically linked to the health of my baby. b) implies that i can choose how to react to my anxiety. that i can choose to give in to it and decide that only proof that the baby is alive right now can cure my fears, or that i can choose to put my faith in this baby and in myself, and just get on with my day.

and giving myself that choice, and choosing not to go to the hospital? that makes me feel stronger. just a little.

of course, the part in grey at the end of option b) isn't so good. but tiny steps, right?


when i freaked the other day i couldn't get hold of my midwife (she's on leave this week) so i ended up speaking to the duty doctor, and he said that if i couldn't settle without a scan, of course to go along and get one - but that if i could calm myself down on my own, that would be the most preferable course of action. and i think that helped too, knowing that there is a line i can draw, and that if i cross over then actually, it's ok to go to the hospital. so far, i've been on this side of the line, the side where i can choose to concentrate on something else, even while thinking 'it's pointless, why am i not on my way already, the baby is already dead'. it's not even that i override that line of thinking - it's an almost constant companion, these days - but usually if i wait long enough it quietens down so that i can ignore it and get on with my day.

and that kind of feels like a lesson for life. that when i'm panicking about something i can choose to give in, and make the fear feel real even if it's not, or i can choose to take enough time to calm myself down and then get the hell on with something else.

and that... feels like a better lesson to pass on to my child than the idea that panicking is real and must be taken seriously.

anxiety sucks, and is hard to take, and i hate it.

but i can beat that sucker.

it's going to take a long time and it's going to be hard work, and i don't doubt that sometimes i'm going to give into the fear and just go and get a damn ultrasound. but it feels good knowing that twice i've just got on with things, all on my own.


Kelly said...

I'm really proud of you to be working all of this out. You're right (IMHO) that ideally, one would be able to keep their anxiety at bay without a scan, doppler, etc.

And then there are the weak ones like me. :)

Miss Ruby said...


Hope's Mama said...

This is such a great way to look at things, but I'm afraid I couldn't look at things this clearly or constructively when I was pregnant with Angus. I had the doppler, and I used it a lot. And I mean a lot. And despite that, I still rushed in for a few quick scans as well if I was still worried about movement, despite being able to hear the heartbeat. I know the doppler probably saved at least a dozen more trips in though, so in that regard it totally paid for itself and saved the hospital staff many hours calming me down.
I guess it all comes down to our individual circumstances and losses. I lost Hope past her due date while I was in labour and I spent three days at home in early labour with things not progressing. I didn't want to rush back in to hospital as I'd already been once and feared I'd be sent home again. I didn't want to look like a fool or waste anyone's time. Then she died. So the next time around, I didn't care how much time I wasted or which midwife I made huffy from being in there every other day. I was doing anything and everything I could to get Angus here alive and I needed to be able to reassure myself 24/7. I found I used the doppler the most in the dead of the night (bad phrase, but that's how it was). In those hours, I felt I couldn't always talk myself out of being totally irrational.
I'm really impressed by your courage in your convictions here. Doppler or no doppler, I know you will make it through. That said, if we lived closer (like a few continents closer) and you wanted to borrow mine, I'd give it to you in a heartbeat (pun intended!)

Tears in November said...

You are definitely not alone in your feelings. I was too stressful for me as well. My doctor could not find Devyn's heartbeat as well with the doppler.

Illanare said...


Big Love, Big Acceptance - or so I say said...

OK - this might sound so cheesy, but this is so cool! I love it!

I don't know if this fits for you, but your choice not to get a doppler and how you're working with your anxiety sounds so empowering. I know my own journey and continued experiences with my anxiety levels have been... humbling maybe (not quite sure of the word I'm looking for)? I knew pregnancy after loss would be hard, but I didn't know HOW hard. Some days it's daily, moment to moment work to recognize my thoughts and feelings and how best to work with them. And perhaps similar to what you wrote, I know getting a scan or listening to the baby's heart beat won't really "fix" things for me.

Anyways... I'm thrilled to hear you're finding a way that works for YOU.