“hahaha mummy, you are huge!”
There are few things scarier, as an expectant mother, than being referred to the big-bad hospital following a routine midwife appointment at the local clinic, as I found out the hard way this week.
My first pregnancy was very straightforward. Aside from a rogueish foetus that wouldn’t get into position for his down syndrome screening, the only extra-curricular appointment we ever had to strap ourselves in for was a morning in triage, following a minor fall. Everything else ran like clockwork throughout. My iron levels were off the charts, in a way that had my midwife claiming a ‘happy dance through the corridor’ when she saw them. The baby now known as RG measured on the 50th centile from the very first time a tape measure touched us to the very last, and although induction was threatened, I eventually went into labour naturally.
As is the way of many, I expected my second experience of being with child to mirror my first, right down to never truly believing I was capable of producing a female heir. But pregnancy doesn’t work that way. And aside from again playing host to a fidgety little boy, nothing has been the same this time around.
Despite this, I assumed certain factors wouldn’t alter all that much. Namely, size. And so it came as a shock when, at my 31 week appointment, my baby measured large. And by large, I mean, on the 110th centile. Which any mother who has ever dealt with fundal height measurements will know roughly translates to ‘oh, sh*t.’
I’d heard the stories about fundal height accuracy. I’d even shared the stories when friends told me of their own dodgy measurements, acting as a reassurance that everything would most likely be fine. It’s a practice that dates back to the 1800s anyway, I’ve heard. And was developed using a very small sample size of women from the same village. How accurate could it really be expected to be?*
*I have no idea whether this is actually true, but I heard it somewhere once, and I’m running with it
But when it’s your own baby, those logical arguments fly out of the window, along with any common sense re why the baby may be big (‘oh god, I shouldn’t have had that hot chocolate, he is obese because I snack,’ for example.) And such it was that I proceeded to spend a very troubled night beating myself up for being a bad preggo pop, and googling what could be wrong with my precious cargo.
The thing is, it’s not just a birth thing if your child is ‘too big.’ Yes, it does cause issues in that arena, as doctors are prone to mistrusting the capabilities of a woman’s body, and will often quickly deduce that a large measurement requires early delivery, leading to potential trauma for mum. But more than that, it can indicate a medical issue with the baby itself. Rare genetic disorders popped up in my chosen method of torture/(search engine). Stories of stays in NICU. All sorts. And then there was the knowledge, at the front of my mind, of a good friend, only a few weeks ahead of me in her own pregnancy, who had the same event occur, before being told her amniotic fluid levels were too high, resulting in a lot of scary discussions regarding early rupturing of waters, umbilical cord prolapse, lack of oxygen to the baby, the list goes on.
Truly, the thoughts that go through your mind in such moments are not for the faint of heart. Or for the weak of tear ducts.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long for a follow up. And it was within 24 hours I found myself lying on a bed in the maternity ward, jelly on my abdomen, and a very kind sonographer at my side. The ultrasound took a while. Like his brother before him, this baby is a fan of awkward positions, and so it took so long to get his measurements that we had to take a brief time out when I almost fainted dead away. (Lying on my back at this stage just doesn’t work anymore, not without drama.) But get them we did, before being sent away to a little side room filled with other worried looking pregnant people, and their partners.
And it wasn’t long, either, until we were called out to the corridor to be told that the baby was… Absolutely fine. Measuring on the 50th centile, bang on average, and perfectly healthy. Meaning just two things… 1/ fundal height measurements really aren’t reliable enough to get into a panic about, without confirmation that panic is warranted. And 2/ I am in fact just enormous all by myself, which I kind of knew anyway, and am 100% OK with, if it means my baby is OK.
… 110% OK with it, in fact
(Do you think we should get cake?)