Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kick Counts..

Ahhhh, this is the stuff that OCD is made of.

As if I don't have enough to stress out about with the cervix and the contractions, add another anxiety to the roster.

At about 28 weeks into pregnancy, doctors recommend keeping track of baby's movements with "kick counts". Apparently I am supposed to figure out when the little man's "active" time is, lay on my side (done!) for thirty minutes of that active time, and count the number of movements I feel. I SHOULD feel at least ten movements. If I don't, I should have a glass of OJ or ice water, lay back down and start over. And then???? Oh yeah, this sounds fun and not at all nerve-wracking.

I think this exercise is designed to give women late in pregnancy something new to worry about. We've gone past the stage of retching at the smell of...anything, and we no longer have to cope with the fear of miscarriage. We have had all of our tests to determine genetic and anatomical defects. Many of us have already decorated the nursery and we are just sitting around waiting for labor. And no one wants to fret about labor, the ultimate anxiety, because face it, there is nothing scarier in the world than the thought you might poop in front of your doctor and every nurse in Labor & Delivery. It's enough to make me beg for a C-section.

So we distract ourselves with the "kick count" and we feel very industrious and involved in our pregnancies. It is especially easy for me, considering how much time I spend lying around. As one of the nurses at Hotel High Risk liked to remind me, "You are a lady of leisure!" If his active time were all 24-hours, that would be fine by me--I'm lying down for all of them.

But what to do when the little man doesn't cooperate? How to stay calm and not rush into a complete "call the doctor" neurotic panic when you don't get the count you are waiting for? Usually it is easy--this guy generally will give me 10 kicks in fewer than 10 minutes (I'm exhausted already), but some days he is just downright lazy. I can drink ice cold water, poke my belly and talk 'til I'm blue in the face and husband thinks I've lost my mind from the bedrest, and the little one just refuses to budge. He has his own agenda and clearly no one informed him about the "kick count".

Many women say their baby is most active right after they eat. Not so with this one. I envision mine settling in to a cozy nook, grabbing hold of that cord and snoozing like Homer Simpson in the hammock while he takes in all the nutritious goodness of the breakfast, lunch, dinner and the multitude of "healthy" snacks (girl scout cookies are very rich in vitamins, yes?) I take in during the day. And then he goes into a food coma. It is only later, after digesting, that he comes alive and gets on the old uterine trampoline for a work out

So because I eat at such odd times during the day, it is hard to determine when I should embark upon the kick count. Time it right and all is well. Time it wrong and I am having heart palpitations and hyperventilating. It is not fun and honestly, I have enough to deal with.

Because of this, I have decided not to pick a certain time of the day. The baby and I have compromised and he will give me a good couple of kicks to let me know he's ready to start the game. Then I lay on my side and count away. This works well and usually only takes a few minutes.

Is it cheating? Maybe, but at least I won't have a nervous twitch and a blazing case of OCD by the time he's born.

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