Kick Me

According to the generate-your-own pregnancy calendar, The Quickening (!) was supposed to occur on June 26. That was yesterday, and I have yet to feel Mayhem move.

I’m not particularly worried. She’ll start kicking when she feels like it. This is not the first Pregnancy Milestone that Mayhem has failed to achieve in lockstep with the pre-set expectations of the obstetric establishment. (True story: my first beta, a solid 68, took almost 85 hours to double. Ever since then, I’ve watched this kid with one eyebrow raised. She clearly does things on her own schedule.)

Still, it’d be nice to have some sort of reassurance that she’s doing her thing in there. I still have not forgiven my doctor’s office for refusing to perform my much-anticipated 16-week ultrasound. “We don’t normally do them at sixteen weeks,” they told me, “unless there’s some medical indication.” My age, apparently, did not qualify.

From this I learned two things:

(1) It’s time to take Shefali‘s (and everyone else’s) advice and switch to a smaller OB practice, one where treatment choices are patient-driven rather than dictated by insurance standards.

(2) While I doubt that anything is amiss with Mayhem, I am NOT comfortable with a hands-off approach to monitoring.

Part of this is because we started out at a specialty clinic, where, thanks to some pre-existing health issues, my plumbing and I were under near-constant surveillance. Every Friday, and often on Monday as well, they’d draw my blood and tell me precisely what they found in it. Every exam room had an ultrasound machine, every nurse in the clinic knew how to use it, and nobody thought twice about having a look-see. Monitoring was the norm, not the exception.

This suited me. I gained enormous comfort and confidence from simply knowing the score. Without the help of my patron saints at the clinic, we never would have (indeed, never could have) gotten pregnant. But their attentions resulted in a diagnosis, which led to medication, which led to conception. When I miscarried my first pregnancy in January, the data they’d gathered from all that bloodwork gave us some idea why. We adjusted my prescriptions accordingly, and a month later, Mayhem was successfully on board.

When it became clear that Mayhem had settled in and was no longer threatening to skip town, my beloved clinic turned me loose. We no longer needed the supervision of a specialist; until further notice, this was a normal pregnancy and required nothing more drastic than ordinary prenatal care.

I didn’t realize just how minimalist “ordinary prenatal care” was. We had an ultrasound at 12 weeks 5 days, which confirmed an ongoing pulse, a big beautiful brain, and limbs where they belonged. This was great. But this, apparently, was all the monitoring that the powers-that-be deemed necessary for a normal pregnancy until 20 weeks.

(Yes, I’ve heard that “the long term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known.” But if high-frequency sound waves are harmful to a developing baby, then Mayhem, the child of a busy soprano, may already be doomed. But I digress.)

I was livid. I’d waited a whole month since my last ultrasound, and now a bunch of people who couldn’t spell my name and didn’t know me from Eve were blithely informing me that I’d have to wait another month until my next one. Because, they said, everything was fine.

But how can you tell without LOOKING??? I managed not to shriek at them.

This, to me, is an unacceptable standard of care. I did appreciate the Doppler, which revealed that Mayhem’s heart was still happily beating away. And the doctor who told me I looked good, asked if I had questions, and advised me to cut back on carbs was perfectly nice. But I expect even “ordinary prenatal care” to involve more than a pat on the back and a see-you-next-month. There’s another person in there, with a whole lot more going on than just a heartbeat. Don’t you want to check and see how she’s doing, too?

(At least they drew my blood. Although they won’t tell me the results until next month.)

If this makes me an annoying high-maintenance patient, then so be it. But I am not ready to abandon my carefully-engineered pregnancy to the winds of fate. I cannot, as people advise me, “just trust nature”; if I’d done that, I would never have gotten pregnant in the first place. Nor does it matter to me that “women have done this for thousands of years.” First off, how many of those women endured unnecessary misery that modern technology could have easily prevented? And second, why should I prefer ignorance over knowledge just because generations of women before me didn’t have the option to be informed? Many of them were illiterate, too, and I’m sure they did fine and lived rich and fulfilling lives. Still, I like to read.

Make no mistake: I am not actually worried that anything is wrong with Mayhem, or with me. Nothing indicates that this pregnancy is anything other than copacetic. But that’s no reason not to pay attention.

In any event, my 20-week ultrasound cannot get here fast enough. And whenever the spirit moves her, Mayhem is welcome to go ahead and kick me.