Monday, December 12, 2011

Dog bites neurotic woman

At last, an eventful week!

Maybe it’s the journo in me, but I have felt quite bad for the two people who read this blog that I have not provided anything very exciting – or newsworthy – in this little nano-millimetre of information superhighway asphalt.

Well how does a sudden decrease in foetal movement scare and dog bite grab you? Huh?

I reckon the News of the World or any other quality News Ltd tabloid would just eat that stuff up for breakfast.

The baby has been moving like crazy every day for about three or four weeks now.

Most nights, during bouts of insomnia, I will feel her bump and bubble around under my skin.

Every day without fail after I have my mid-morning cup of tea, she will move; and if I have a particularly big lunch, or anything cold, she will continue her featherweight boxing training inside my abdomen.

They aren’t flutters or little wispy movements, they are normally pretty intense whacks that are often visible from the outside.

One day last week, it got to midday and none of this had happened.

It got to 2pm and I rang T to ask what I should do.

I had felt one, maybe two, tiny flutters down really low, but nowhere near as much movement as
she had displayed every day for the past month.

I was worried. And my mind wasn’t helping.

I rang our hospital. The midwife told me to see how I went for the next few hours and come in after work.

At 2.10pm I realised I couldn’t concentrate on work, thinking the worst about what was, or what was not, going on inside my uterus.

I left work and drove the 25 minutes up to the hospital, through torrential rain, I might add.

It was a terrible drive. I was sobbing, desperate at the anxiety of it all. Convinced there would be no heartbeat to find.

I had gathered myself by the time I arrived and thankfully found the last park in the parking lot.

I had also seen six garbage trucks on the highway on the drive up, which I was madly trying to tell myself was a good omen, as our four-year-old son is quite the garbage truck fanatic.

The same midwife I spoke to was at the desk. She efficiently put her paperwork down and immediately took me into a room before hooking me up to two transponder things, one to measure the heartbeat and the other to measure kicks.

She got another ultra-sound wand thing to locate the heartbeat.

“It might take me a while to find,” she said, fully aware of the tension in the room.

I held my breath.

There it was. A heartbeat.

And, seven seconds later, what was that?

A kick.

I was now lying down – for the first time that day – and she kicked.

Why didn’t I bloody lie down at work and save myself all this worry!

They hook you up for at least 20 minutes to chart movement and heart rates and I am pretty sure she had kicked no less than 25 times in the first three minutes.


I look like a neurotic who is plainly having a very naughty, troublesome child!

The midwife was really good and while I was certainly looking for it, was not patronising at all.

They must see that sort of stuff a lot, right?

And we both agreed, we would rather it was confirmed, one way or the other, instead of wondering, all the while consumed with rising panic.

“So what do I do next time, to save me coming up here every week freaking out (in case it happens again),” I asked, thinking that actually it would be kind of nice to have an informal weekly appointment with the heartbeat monitor. Are they available to purchase for home use??

The midwife just told me to watch for an entire day and if there was no movement into the night, definitely call again and come on up. Good lord, what a fright.

Of course, in context of losing a baby last year, this sort of thing is reasonable and to be expected. But bloody hell it frightens the life right out of you at the time.

As for the damn dog bite, and ensuing tetanus shot... we have had a certain breed of dog my entire life. Growing up, we had three Miniature Schnauzers, adorable things.

We plan on getting one - look at that face: wouldn't you? -when the baby is about one and not on the floor crawling. I happened to drive past an old man walking a beautiful one on my way home from work one evening.

I pulled into a side street and walked back to him to ask if he got the dog locally.

I should have seen the crazy glint in that dog’s eye from the beginning. She startled as soon as I came into view and looked on edge immediately. But she was on a lead and he held onto her while we chatted for about 10 minutes about the breed, where he got her and previous Schnauzers we had both had.

Clearly, I was no threat to her master. So I asked if I could pat her. Stupidly, I did not wait for the answer and just bent down to offer the back of my hand for her to sniff.

That movement coincided with him saying “Ah well now, I would be a bit careful about doing that” and BANG! She sniffed and then immediately nipped at my knuckles, prompting a small circular bruise and three puncture marks to show up on the skin at once.

Yep, puncture marks. No blood, but puncture marks. Great. This was going to mean tetanus.

I scurried off after the old man offered a belated and half-hearted apology and called a health advice info line when I got home. The RN on the line advised me to go to emergency within four hours and that tetanus was a Category A drug, and therefore completely safe in pregnancy.

So, with no real time to Google – and I am thankful now for that blessing – T and I took ourselves off to the local hospital. We went in at 7pm and came out at 7.25pm, which must be a new record for an emergency department. Me with a makeshift bandaid covering the day’s fourth puncture mark, this one from a tetanus needle and T with the car keys to drive the patient home.

I asked the doctor, who was American and looked to be about 11, four times if tetanus was safe. On each occasion he said yes. It was only a really minor bite, but we all thought it would be better to be safe than sorry.

Mum asked later if the baby was now immunised and I have no idea. Is she?

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