How can I tell if my baby is still okay in there?
September 8, 2010 8:56 AM   Subscribe

How can I tell if my baby is still okay in there?

I'm pregnant for the first time and scared. It took years, tears and artificial insemination just to get here.
Now I'm driving myself nuts worrying that between now (week 3) and the next ultrasonar Little Om will just...vanish. I read that 25 percent of all pregnancies terminate in the first six weeks. The thought of going through the whole process again makes me want to cry.

Would I know if I miscarried at such an early stage? Is there any way to reassure myself as time goes by that everything is going as planned?

And can you help me not freak so much? I don't know if it's the hormones or something, but suddenly I'm so scared of everything going wrong, and I feel so pathetic and deficient, and I keep telling myself I should be happy and not freaking out, and surely this can't be good for my baby either and GAH.
posted by Omnomnom to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would hold off on reading any pregnancy books until you're feeling a little more secure - I know that those can turn even the most tranquil of mothers-to-be into anxious wrecks.

Honestly, it seems like a really scary thing and I have nothing to say that can reassure you. I think staying busy, and talking about your fears with loved ones if you think that that will make you feel better.

This would also be worth mentioning to your ob-gyn and any fertility specialists you're still working with.
posted by punchtothehead at 9:02 AM on September 8, 2010


It's really REALLY hard to let this be more or less out of your hands right now.

It took us a long time to conceive too -- I know what this feels like.

If you're like me, you also spent an insane amount of time online researching treatments, miscarriage rates, doctors, fertility charts, discussion boards, yadda yadda.

If so, I'm telling you, with love.... GET OFF TEH INTERWEBZ. Read a trashy novel, eat delicious food, get massages and rest until it's time to see the doctor again. All the facts and chatter here do not help the Don't-Freak-Out agenda.

You're not pathetic or deficient or anything. You're making a baby - yay, you!
posted by pantarei70 at 9:03 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Both times for us, there were periods where my wife and I seemed to want to ignore the pregnancy, because it seemed talking about it made it real, and if it was real, something bad could happen.

We should have talked more, I suppose. But I honestly recommend the kinda-ignore it advice and "read a trashy novel, eat delicious food, get massages and rest until it's time to see the doctor again."

After all, once you actually have the baby ... there will be NO time to read trashy novels, eat delicious food and get massages and rest. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:10 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Things really are out of your control at the moment. Also nthing that nothing good will come of reading Dr. Google!

Yes, you would likely know if you miscarried. Think of a really heavy period. That's what I experienced when I miscarried at 2 weeks. Now think of a really heavy, painful period. That's what I experienced when I miscarried at 7 weeks. YMMV, yes, but it's highly unlikely that you would miscarry without knowing about it.

In this case: NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS! You can't feel the baby move, you can't hear the heartbeat, so you have no feedback. I know it's hard! But as long as you're not seeing copious amounts of bright red blood, Little Om is probably doing just fine in there.

If it'll make you feel better (and it made me feel better, so take a shot at it), rest up, read (NOT pregnancy books!!), take care of yourself, eat delicious foods, watch movies; do whatever you can do to get your mind off of this.

You may have to "fake it til you make it" but you'll feel better. Also, perhaps talk to your OBGYN if you just can't shake the feelings of doom.
posted by cooker girl at 9:13 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Try your best to distract yourself. I know it's hard but there's really nothing you can do but wait. You would know if you miscarried, in all likelihood. Is there a girlfriend that's been pregnant that you can confide in? I hated the isolation of not telling anyone and if I had to do it all over again, I'd tell someone really early so it wouldn't just be me and my husband (who is great but it's not the same as having a woman whose been through it before) to talk it out.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:26 AM on September 8, 2010

Everyone has given you the best advice there is. This is a really stressful time. I concur with the following:

1) Stay away from Dr. Google. There is nothing on the web that can give you any definitive information.

2) Get as much rest as you can. But also try to stick to your normal routine. Eat well, exercise gently, and stay connected to friends. (Hopefully soon you'll feel too tired and/or nauseated to do a lot of these things!)

3) Find a TV show that you've never seen and rent the DVDs (or download) starting from Episode 1. Drama or comedy- whichever is more up your alley. I spent a good part of my pregnancy watching Friday Night Lights- I highly recommend it!!

4) You may not feel confident in this pregnancy until well past the 16 week mark. I didn't really settle into it until almost 20 weeks. But from then on, I had a blissed-out, amazing time. So just hang in there!!
posted by picklebird at 9:29 AM on September 8, 2010

Your feelings are normal. I went through it with my son and I was in the same situation w/ you (au natural didn't work, Clomid + trigger + insemination did).

1. Did you get your 5-8 week ultrasound confirmation that the little one is viable? If so, you're good to go from an infertility clinic standpoint.

2. Yes, please for the love of god get off the internet and books. I was told I had subchorionic bleeding during the wee times and it scared the shit out of me when I looked at Google images, WebMD, BabyCenter, etc.

3. You have every reason to feel the way you do. Your OB/infertility doc can help you vent through this. If you don't feel comfortable doing so because they're jerks, get a new OB, etc. To discuss. Your OB/infertility doc should be on your side and they've seen it all, even with healthy mothers who got pregnant on the first try.

Take each day with wonder, take each day at a time, enjoy every tiny moment. I remember every little thing (good and bad) and that was in 08. In the end, it will work out. Believe it will.

Much love and luck and congrats. :)
posted by stormpooper at 9:49 AM on September 8, 2010

And can you help me not freak so much? I don't know if it's the hormones or something, but suddenly I'm so scared of everything going wrong, and I feel so pathetic and deficient, and I keep telling myself I should be happy and not freaking out, and surely this can't be good for my baby either and GAH.

I doubt this HELPS, but I got pregnant in the traditional way without too much trouble and I spent the first 12 weeks COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT too. I was terrified something would go wrong. It's quite normal to be terrified, and it won't hurt the baby.

Try to relax and try to distract yourself. Conquer the world on Civilization or something. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:30 AM on September 8, 2010

It's horrible. I'm 31 weeks pregnant and I've had four early miscarriages, and that whole first several weeks is just wrecking. I personally took upwards of a dozen pregnancy tests, but I would not recommend this strategy; home pregnancy tests are qualitative vs. quantitative, so you can't see if your hormone levels are going up, and you can get a positive pregnancy test even off a failing pregnancy. So it was literally just totemic, and those suckers are expensive.

If you're having any symptoms, cling to them. I have only ever had bad nausea in keeper pregnancies, for example. But if you're NOT having symptoms, don't freak out; if I counted all the children I know who were born healthy after symptomless pregnancies, it would run me out of fingers and toes.

The sad, scared fact is that you are leaving the realm of Science and entering the realm of Mystery and Miracle, and there's no way out of this terrifying time except through it. It's a bad, hard time, particularly when you've had to invest a lot of time and money and heartbreak just to get the double pink lines. Don't be afraid to ask your gyn or RE for a referral to a counselor if it starts to wreck you.
posted by KathrynT at 10:36 AM on September 8, 2010

Yes, absolutely get off the internerds!!!

I just finished the first trimester of my first pregnancy and it definitely made me freak out so much more to be reading the baby center boards and the "What to expect" websites and my mental status improved so much when I just stepped away.

Definitely keep in mind that no news is good news. Right now, I'm at week 13 and since I've stopped being queasy and I have more of a Buddha Belly than a baby bump, there's absolutely nothing to tell me that I'm still pregnant. I just keep trusting that if something were to go wrong, my body would let me know. Trusting that my body is strong and my baby is happy in there helps a lot.

Getting an absolutely positive pregnancy test from the doctor and an OB appointment help - getting the pre-natal care ball rolling is an excellent way to feel productive when there's really not much going on in early pregnancy. You're still going to have to wait until about 7wks for an ultrasound, unless your doctor elects to do a sonogram earlier, but you can get a positive test from the doctor which feels a bit more "official" than a positive pee stick test. Also, feel free to bounce your concerns off of your doctor - s/he's heard it all before and my own doctor was more than supportive in telling me that I was doing the right things (resting, eating well, taking prenatal vitamins) and that helped allay my own fears a ton.

Buy something fun for pregnant ladies: a prenatal yoga DVD, a baby name book... just not anything that's about "What To Expect" or freaking out about your health. Breathe and try to enjoy the next 37 weeks! Feel free to MeMail me if you like :)
posted by sonika at 10:41 AM on September 8, 2010

Others have beat me to almost everything - a lot of good advice in this thread.

Definitely stay off of Google, but I'm going to go against the grain here and say that depending on your personality, having 1 or 2 pregnancy books around might actually help reassure you -- it did for me. I liked The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and The Panic-Free Pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic book is very just-the-facts, and I was able to look up a new symptom and see that it was normal (don't read it cover to cover -- it's better as a reference). The Panic Free Pregnancy is the ultimate in comfort and reassurance -- his message is pretty much as long as you're not chain smoking and binge drinking, your baby will be fine.

One more thing -- at around 9-10 weeks, you will be able to hear the heartbeat via a fetal doppler. The docs will probably do this (and let you hear it) at every appointment. So that's one more (more frequent than ultrasound) way to get some reassurance. That said, beware of home dopplers -- sometimes the heartbeat can be hard to find, and not being able to find the heartbeat yourself will just cause you more panic/worry.

Congratulations and big hugs to you.
posted by somanyamys at 10:41 AM on September 8, 2010

Oh man, this is one of those really hard things about trying to conceive and then actually conceiving. When I was trying to get pregnant, and getting anxious about it, well-meaning people would tell me to "relax"- and I just wanted to punch them in the nose instead. The fertility area is so fraught with emotion it is a very difficult thing to have any equanimity about.

However. You are now pregnant! That is fantastic! As it took a while to get there, just stop and appreciate where you are- you are pregnant! This means you *can* get pregnant, which is huge. So live in the moment. Celebrate with a nice dinner. A few weeks from now you may be subsisting on crackers and ginger ale, so if you can eat a nice dinner, do that.

Everyone else is right- at this point, it is out of your hands. It's sort of the first lesson of parenthood- there are an awful lot of things that are going to be out of your hands, and you have to just roll with what comes. So take good care of yourself- rest, take your vitamins, eat right, etc. If your quoted statistic for miscarriages is valid, the flip side is that 75% of those pregnancies make it to six weeks. Three out of four is pretty good odds, so take some comfort in that.
posted by ambrosia at 10:48 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it week three after the embryo was implanted? If so you are officially six weeks pregnant - it's counted from your last period (always +2 weeks from fertilisation, then another week for implantation when it occurs without ART).

If so, I'm about the same, and I know all is okay because I'm feeling it - my boobs are big and sore, I dry retch most of the evening and I'm always, always hungry. I also get occasional odd, random pains in my abdomen and just want to sleeeep all the time. If you are actually only three weeks pregnant (embryo only just implanted in the last couple of days) you won't be feeling these things yet, but if you are six weeks you should be noticing at least some changes by now. Ask for an early scan (here in the UK the first scan is at 12 weeks) if you're worried, but otherwise I agree with everyone else - rest up, enjoy wearing the clothes you won't fit into for much longer, avoid any pregnancy-related googling and enjoy your life as it is for now because it's all about to change irrevocably.
posted by goo at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010

Seconding ambrosia -- this is your first lesson as a parent, taking a deep breath and accepting that this is out of your control and going to be all right. Hang in there.
posted by davejay at 12:09 PM on September 8, 2010

We went through the same period of fear, even after the 6 wk ultrasound. My wife had severe morning sickness during the entire first trimester. Whenever she would have a spell of feeling normal she would get extremely nervous until she felt sick again. She ordered a home prenatal doppler . All it can tell you is the rate of the fetal heart beat, but being able to hear the fetus's heart beat was greatly reassuring .
posted by Crashback at 1:56 PM on September 8, 2010

A note about the fetal doppler: It can be more worrying than relieving, depending on whether or not you're prone to stress out if you can't find the heartbeat right away or if the heartbeat is low/erratic. Also, won't help you out until week 9 or so - it's still too early even for your doctor to detect a heartbeat.

I hear some women really love having them at home, others have confessed that it makes them worry more when they can't find the heartbeat right away.
posted by sonika at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2010

Sonika, that was a big concern for us. My wife has managed to find it every time in 15 seconds or less, but I can totally understand how it distressing it would be if she couldn't.
posted by Crashback at 3:03 PM on September 8, 2010

And can you help me not freak so much? I don't know if it's the hormones or something, but suddenly I'm so scared of everything going wrong, and I feel so pathetic and deficient, and I keep telling myself I should be happy and not freaking out, and surely this can't be good for my baby either and GAH.

This was me last summer. I too went through alot (too much probably) to get that pregnancy and with two prior miscarriages, I was out of my mind with worry. I almost fainted at the first u/s appointment!

The thing that got me through was the realization that I could not hibernate, but I could at least practice a great deal of distraction which I did by reading exceedingly bad novels. Nothing involved or thought provoking.

Deep down, I also made peace with the fact that if something did happen, and I lost this pregnancy, I would be ok. It would suck, I would cry (as I did for my other two), I would feel exceedingly shitty for a very long time, but I would be ok. I think that knowledge got me through the worst of it. Baby was born in March and is perfectly healthy despite my freaking out.

On the home doppler, I decided against getting one because I knew that it would cause me more anxiety than it would alleviate.

Hang in there and all the best to you.
posted by Leezie at 3:44 PM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you, I feel much better after reading your responses. Every single answer had something helpful, so I'm not going to mark any!
I now have a big pile of "always wanted to read" books on my bedside table, and I'm making that my project for the next weeks.
I also like the suggestion with the yoga dvd, at least I can pour my energies into something useful!

KathrynT, I do actually keep poking my boobs to check if they're still smarting, and they are, which makes me happy.

Goo, that's a good point! I am actually further along than I thought, which makes me grin.

My OB Gyn, I'm afraid, reminds me of John Grissom of CSI. Really good at the technical stuff but kind of hopeless at communicating emotion.
Me: "Doc, do you think I'll ever manage to get a baby??"
Doctor (blinks): "Yes."
I do have awesome friends with recent babies, though. Maybe I can bother them with it, a little.

"It's sort of the first lesson of parenthood"
I really, really like this thought, ambrosia.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:51 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had these feelings as well, a year and half ago. I just asked my husband what helped me through it, so I could share my coping strategies with you. You know, the ones that really got me through it all and let me enjoy those first weeks, but that I just couldn't think of right now. He shrugged. "Time, I guess". So. So much for my wonderful tips for you... But in the end, it was time, and lots of distraction that got me through those first weeks (and yay for being further along than you thought!).

The good thing though, about it all being out of your hands (and Ambrosia is so right about that) - it also means you're not doing anything wrong, or not enough of the right thing.
posted by Ms. Next at 1:47 AM on September 9, 2010

re: relying on the symptoms of pregnancy to keep you sane-

Don't do this! One day my symptoms (sore breasts, morning sickness, etc) just stopped. You can imagine how worried I was, since I'd been doing the very same thing as you (poking my breasts to make sure they still hurt).

I just finished feeding breakfast to the perfectly healthy result of that pregnancy. So don't let a lack of symptoms scare you! Plenty of women ever have any symptoms beyond the loss of their period, and even then some bleed regularly right through.

There are so many shades of 'normal' in pregnancy, and there's no use worrying about it. No two pregnancies are alike (even for the same woman!), so there's nothing really definitive any of us can say to put your mind at ease.

You've already acknowledged it, but ambrosia is absolutely correct that this is the first of many instances where you just have to let go and roll with the punches. Pregnancy is a miraculous and wonderful, albeit stressful time in a woman's life. Enjoy every moment for what it's worth.

And of course, congratulations!
posted by sunshinesky at 8:10 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older How do I start over?   |   Vegas, again. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.