About a month or so before I was due I started noticing that I had some weird things happening with my heart. I started having times where I would feel like my heart was racing for no particular reason. Not even while I was walking around or doing anything, but while I was just sitting around watching TV or laying down in bed. It was weird enough that I decided to mention it to my doctor at my next appointment, but I wasn’t too worried about it. She wasn’t too concerned either and told me that my heart was working really hard to keep me and baby alive, and sometimes things like that happened. As long as my heart rate didn’t jump above 140 I didn’t need to worry about it. So I downloaded an app that could track my heart rate (it’s a pretty cool app if you have an Android phone, I recommend checking it out and playing with it) and didn’t worry about it too much further. I saw my heart rate get up to 120 fairly regularly but it would come back down so while I kept monitoring it I didn’t worry too much.
Then a little over a week before I was due (Wednesday, April 6th) I was getting ready for the day and sitting in the bathroom drying my hair when I had one of those heart racing episodes and felt like I was going to pass out. I quickly got myself from where I was sitting and moved to my bed. I was able to avoid passing out but it was a pretty scary moment. I realized that I was home alone with Sam and that if I *did* pass out and hit my head or something there’d be no one to take care of me or Sam until Eric came home later that night. So I sent an im to Eric to ask him to at least check on me periodically throughout the day. Eric wasn’t satisfied with that solution and insisted on coming home and working from here, just in case. We had my mom do a Skype video call with me so that someone was keeping an eye on me and Eric came right home. We also called the doctor’s office to see what their thoughts were on the situation. They told me to drink more water and eat some high protein foods and let them know if I had any more episodes. Their thought was that it was most likely dehydration or not eating enough so if I got on top of my nutrition I should be ok.
My biggest concern was that I was developing pre-eclampsia since I’d started to show signs of pre-eclampsia at the end of my pregnancy with Sam and my sister had it seriously enough that they induced her 5 weeks early. Pre-eclampsia can have serious consequences for both moms and babies so with my medical history, I definitely wanted to keep an eye on that. So I had Eric go to the store and pick up a blood pressure cuff so that we could monitor how my blood pressure was doing. We found that it was pretty much always normal, except during my heart racing episodes where it would suddenly jump super high (like 159/111 high) and then go right back down. In fact they went back down so quickly I had a really hard time catching those blood pressure spikes. After catching a couple though we called the doctor’s office, when we reported those readings – even with surrounding normal readings – they said to just come straight in and have the doctor check me out.
Of course, when I got to the doctor’s office I looked just fine and my blood pressure was normal, so they scheduled me to come in and see the doctor on Monday (the doctor was out and I just saw the nurse practitioner that day) and sent me home. I asked the nurse practitioner what their policy was on elective inductions. I’m not a big believer in elective induction but I could tell there was something wrong with my body and I knew that getting the baby out was going to be at least the first step in getting better. Since I was to a point in my pregnancy where the baby should be fully developed I was at least considering that option. She told me that their policy was that they would schedule an elective induction after 39 weeks. That helped a little bit since I knew that I’d be 39 weeks the next day, but I had to wait until my appointment on Monday to talk to the doctor about that.
I continued having these heart racing episodes and they seemed to be getting more frequent and lasting longer. So Eric put me on bedrest so we could let things work themselves out. We also asked my mom to come out that Friday so she could help out with things while I was trying to keep my blood pressure down and after the baby was here. We thought it was likely we’d be heading in to the hospital some time that weekend and it put our minds at rest to know that there was someone around to take care of Sam when we went in as Eric’s parents (our first plan for taking care of Sam) were in Indiana that weekend.
So we picked up my mom on Friday night and tried to keep me off my feet that weekend. Saturday I was feeling great and started to feel really silly for having my mom come out and putting everyone on alert. However, by the end of church on Sunday I was starting to feel like I was going to pass out again so we went home and put me back on bedrest. On Monday I woke up and felt awful. The feeling of my heart racing was present for the majority of the morning and I just felt crummy. I thought for sure we’d head into the doctor’s and that my blood pressure would be high and we’d be heading for an induction that afternoon. Eric gave me a blessing before we left and I was blessed with peace and confidence in my decisions regarding my health and the health of the baby.
So we got to the doctor’s office and checked in and I was still feeling pretty lousy. I had found that it helped to lay on my side more than sitting or standing or laying on my back, but obviously there wasn’t much side laying I could do in the doctor’s office chairs so my heart felt like it was working really hard when I finally got into the examination room. That’s the best way I can describe what the feeling was like, it felt like my heart was struggling to keep up with the demands of my body. So, we waited in the examination room for the doctor. Now, I should note that the doctor I was seeing wasn’t my normal doctor. She’d had her own baby on Thursday and was obviously on maternity leave at this point. I’d known this was going to be a likely outcome all along but I was still a bit sad to not have my own doctor that really knew me.
The doctor came in and looked over my chart and did a quick checkup and basically told me that pregnancy is rough and that new moms can get really anxious at the end of a pregnancy. He scheduled me for an induction on Friday and sent us on our way. I was really frustrated with that because I *knew* that what was going on had nothing to do with anxiety (I’m a pretty low key kind of person, and I’d already gone through the childbirth process once and had everything go great so… no anxiety there). Plus I knew that pregnancy was uncomfortable and rough, and this pregnancy had been very uncomfortable and rough, but that what was going on with my heart wasn’t just a pregnancy thing. I felt like the doctor hadn’t really listened to me and had sort of blown me off, which was more frustrating since I felt like my doctor knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t be coming in for just anxiety. But there wasn’t really much more I could do except stay off my feet, try to keep my blood pressure down and wait for Friday.
On Tuesday I finally decided that I was going to just get up and do as much as I could to do work around the house and such. I figured that if I walked around I could either get myself to go into labor or my blood pressure would go high enough that the doctor would take me seriously. Well, neither of those happened. In fact, the opposite happened – I felt better than I had in about a week. That was almost more frustrating because it made me feel like I was being hypochondriacal, which is really not like me at all. I was very confused, although grateful to be feeling better.
On Wednesday my mom was talking to my Aunt Petrine about the weird heart episodes that I’d been having. Petrine’s husband had lots of different heart issues in the years before he passed away and so she had some experience with these types of issues. After hearing my symptoms Petrine thought that my problem was probably low blood pressure. A quick google search for symptoms of low blood pressure pretty quickly proved that I matched her diagnosis – in particular the fact that all of my blood pressure readings (except for the weird spikes) had been on the very low side of normal. However since we were worried about high blood pressure, low readings hadn’t bothered us. All of the things that were causing me problems – sitting, standing in one place, hot showers etc – were things that can exacerbate low blood pressure. On the other hand walking around and laying on my side were good things to help make it better. Suddenly everything that was happening with my body made a LOT more sense, and we realized why bedrest wasn’t helping! Everything I was doing to try and keep my blood pressure low was the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing. Doh!
I was very relieved and took the necessary steps to help make me feel better. I was pretty frustrated though that the solution to my problem was so simple and that if my doctor had listened to me a little more he could have diagnosed the issue earlier on and the one thing that *was* causing me anxiety (these weird heart episodes) could have been taken care of much sooner. But I couldn’t complain too much at that point since at least we did figure out what was wrong and I was feeling much better.
Of course then my problem was deciding what to do about the induction date. Like I mentioned earlier I’m not a big fan of elective inductions, I believe that in most cases the best thing for babies is to come when they’re ready to come and we can cause problems by messing with a process that nature has pretty well figured out. However I was still having the issues with my low blood pressure, even if we were managing it better, and the following week was set to be a busy one. My sister was graduating on Thursday & Friday, my brother was going through the temple on Saturday and we were hoping to be able to bless the baby in church on Sunday while my family was in town. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to participate in those activities from a hospital bed. More importantly though, my strep B culture had come back positive so the doctor really wanted me in the hospital 4 hours before I delivered the baby so we could get a full round of antibiotics in me and him to avoid any complications. Since Sam had come in about 8 hours from the time they broke my water and second babies are supposed to come faster, and we live about 45 minutes away from the hospital I was concerned that I wouldn’t get to the hospital in time for the antibiotics to be properly administered without it being a scheduled induction. So, after some careful thought, consideration and prayer I decided to go ahead with the induction on Friday.