Kent’s birth story still brings tears to my eyes at the very thought of it. So many regrets. So many what ifs. Reliving that day in my head is like torture. The kind of torture that has a happy ending. Like a happy ending to a horror film… if you will.
I know there’s no changing the past. But I can encourage people to do what I wish I would’ve done.
Count the kicks.
I wish I would’ve been counting the kicks while I was pregnant. I was encouraged by a good friend to count the kicks but it sounded anxiety provoking and unnecessary. I know my baby’s movement, I will know when there’s a change…
Going through 2 years of infertility taught me a lot of things about myself and one of those things is to not stress the small stuff. When I finally became pregnant I decided I would not be a worrier. I chose to put my faith in God and trust that things would go smoothly. Worrying didn’t get me anywhere.
My last two pictures before Kent was born.
My entire pregnancy involved lots of exercise, green smoothies, laughter, love, and dozens of McDonalds french fries. I was still teaching 5 fitness classes a week. A perfectly healthy pregnancy. At 34 weeks and 6 days I noticed reduced movement after a workout. I chalked it up to the fact he was getting bigger and as a result would move less. The internet told me that happens sometimes…
I chose to keep the faith and not be a worrier. My husband had just left that day for Florida to visit a friend. And I didn’t feel the need to worry anyone. So I quite literally ignored it.
The next morning was even less movement. I thought he’d come around after I ate breakfast. Around 9:00am it progressed to no movement at all. A colleague encouraged me to call my doctor but I laughed it off and again “eh, he’s probably just sleeping…” Genuinely not worried. Genuinely believed this happens sometimes and no need to be dramatic. I waited over 4 hours, two large meals, 3 cookies, 1 coffee, and zero movement before even telling my husband. 5 hours before I called my doctor. And at that point my doctor told me to stop whatever I’m doing and go straight to the hospital.
So I did.
The medical staff performed a biophysical profile (BPP) which measures heart rate, movement, amniotic fluid, muscle tone, and breathing patterns of the baby. For each measurement you either score a 2 or a 0 with a maximum score of 10.
I received a total score of 2/10.
This means only one of the measurements was normal. Only one. And I think it was the amniotic fluid but I’m not 100% positive.
(For reference, if you score lower than a 6 it’s worthy of monitoring again in 24 hours with a chance you could be delivering that baby soon. With a score of 2 or less, it means the baby is either dead or in serious, VERY serious condition.)
Kent was born less than 10 minutes later. And he was perfect. Skinny. And perfect. We got lucky.
I will never know exactly why he stopped moving. I will never know if he was in pain in there. If he was suffocating. I have no idea for how long he was hurting. Or if he was at all.
And I can’t help but wonder… what if I would’ve been counting kicks all along? Would I have noticed a decrease in movement all week? The night before? Could this have been avoided altogether?
What if I waited another 4 hours before calling my doctor?
What if I didn’t make it in time?
We got lucky. And as a thankful mom for a happy ending I have become a huge advocate for the Count the Kicks campaign. I attended the annual luncheon this week and I feel encouraged to share my story, not just be a supporter of a great cause.
So please, let my story be worth remembering. Counting the kicks matters. Do what I wish I would’ve done. Count those kicks. It’s not anxiety provoking. It is reassurance that you have a healthy baby growing in there. It is smart. And it has been proven to reduce stillbirths and save THOUSANDS of babies.
For more information please visit the Count the Kicks website.
And you bet your ass next time I’m pregnant I will be counting every damn kick that hits my belly. Because being a worrier will be my new spirit animal.