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That Morning The Baby Didn't Seem To Be Moving

Hydrangea
Bus stop photography.

I was lying in bed yesterday morning, aware of Steve moving around the flat, getting ready for work. I wasn't aware of the baby moving around inside me.

I wasn't too worried, though; I rarely feel this baby moving when I'm lying down and I don't think I ever felt Matilda moving when I was in bed. For me, nights have always been my break from the prods.

I lay for a while, listening to Steve pootling around while I concentrated on the baby. I felt absolutely nothing.

I hoisted myself over onto my other side - a slow, complicated process at the moment, but one which usually provokes a little bit of shuffling around in there. Still no movement.

Steve got into the shower. I was effectively trapped in bed until he was finished; sitting up would have woken my bladder. So I lay there and paid attention to the baby. Who I still couldn't feel.

In total, I lay in bed for an hour and I didn't feel the baby once.

* * *

Once Steve was done in the bathroom, I got up. Peed. Prodded my belly a lot.

A lot.

I wasn't feeling anything.

For an hour, I pressed and prodded, trying to get some sort of reaction from the baby. There was nothing. Nothing at all.

Just panic, throttling me, pushing tears out of my eyes. What if there was something wrong? What if something had gone wrong in the middle of the night and I was too late? What if what if what if...?

The tiniest furtle was felt. A hand, low down. At least, I thought so.

And then a miniscule, hesitant kick.

Movement! But not the usual sharp elbows and frantic fingers. Tiny, gentle movements. Tired movements? Poorly movements? Was the baby actually okay in there?

I was sitting there, accepting that I would need to go and get checked out - just to be on the safe side - when my trainee midwife friend texted me. I told her what was happening; she told me to get to the hospital.

* * *

It was 8:30. I knew the day assessment unit would just be opening.

The day assessment unit is a new thing, in Aberdeen. It was launched while I was still early in this pregnancy. It's a specific place where pregnant women can go when they're worried; it's calm and focused and much easier to talk yourself into visiting than the previous option: a ward full of women waiting for their inductions to take effect.

I still didn't want to ring, though. I didn't want the hassle of making arrangements for Matilda. I didn't want the expense of a taxi or the hour of being jiggled around on buses. I didn't want to talk to anyone.

But, more than those things, I didn't want to deal with the horror or the guilt if I didn't get things checked out and... you know... failed to avert a disaster.

So I phoned and they asked if I could be there within the hour.

* * *

By the time I arrived, the baby was jiggling away inside me - normal, strong, frequent movements - but nobody minded; they all assured me it was best to get any change from the norm checked out, no matter how fleeting it had been.

They told me they were going to do a trace. This involved putting a belt and some sort of monitors around my stomach while I reclined (although not too far!) on a comfy chair. Beside me, a machine beeped along to the baby's heartbeat whilst scribbling a record on a piece of paper; in my hand, I held a button which I had to press every time I felt a movement.

I felt a bit daft, sitting there, constantly pressing that button. Constantly. The baby had clearly had enough of being still!

But I found it interesting, watching the spiky charts unfurl from the machine, seeing the baby's heartbeat rocket from 140bpm to 180bpm every time there was one of those great big "why can't I stretch out in here any more?" shifts against my stomach.

I sat there for half an hour, at which point the staff were happy that all was okay.

Because I hadn't had a scan since twenty weeks, they said they would arrange one for later that day, just to be on the safe side. It was booked for a little before lunchtime, which gave me an hour and a half to fill; I was welcome to stay in the unit, watching daytime TV, but I decided to go for a wander instead, getting a little fresh air then having an uninterrupted cake in the cafe at the far end of the campus. I cursed myself for not having brought my Kindle.

* * *

Bag and dress
Waiting room photography.

Eventually, it was time for the scan. I was feeling hot and exhausted by this point, glugging down water in the waiting room.

It was a quick scan - or, as quick as it could be, given that the baby kept thumping the umbilical cord out of the way, whenever the sonographer tried to check it.

A 39 week scan is nothing like a 12 or a 20 week scan. There is no clear, full image of the baby. There is one blobby body part filling the screen which the sonographer assures you is a head or a hand or a leg, while you nod and squint and wonder how on earth they can tell. I brought five lovely print outs of unrecognisable lumps home afterwards.

But all looked well with the baby (apparently). The head was fully engaged; the measurements would have put the baby at over 40 weeks; the heart was thumping away; and the cord was doing its thing.

The only concern was that the sonographer could only find one measurable pool of water; she assured me this wasn't unusual, but that she thought the doctors would probably want me to have another scan in seven days' time, if the baby hadn't arrived.

* * *

After the scan, it was back to the main room for a chat with the doctor.

Sure enough, she advised having another scan in a week's time. She assured me that, at this late stage, when the baby's taking up so much room, it's not unusual for there to only be one or two measurable pools of water, but that it was better to keep an eye on things than not.

Which almost reassured me.

And that was everything done.

* * *

It was a long day. I was so glad I hadn't had to take Matilda with me; I was out of the house for five hours in total and there was a lot of waiting around. When Steve finished his work for the day, I passed out for three hours solid.

But I'm glad I went in.

Even though, by the time I got there, I was as certain as I could be that nothing was wrong.

Because it was a relief to have medical professionals confirm that. It was a relief to hear my baby's heartbeat, to see knees (apparently) jolting on a screen.

At this late stage, I do so much monitoring of my own body ("Is this a sign of labour?") and so much hazarding of guesses ("Is tonight the night?") that it was helpful to have somebody tell me something definite: my baby's doing well.

My baby is ready to come out, they say. Which just leaves one question: when is that going to be?

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