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.