Medical, pregnancy

Storytime: Sleepy Heartbeats (First NST)

June 9, 2017, a day before my baby shower, a month before our little Braveheart came into the world, and another day I will never forget. It was the first time that we were told, “You may be holding your baby by tonight”.

After work, I had a normal checkup with my Ob-Gyn. I was told that I needed to undergo an NST.

NST stands for a Nonstress Test.

It is a routine test to to check how a fetus’ heartrate responds to his/her movements.

We all chuckled and teasingly commented, “well we know [Braveheart] will past that this test for sure.” After all, he was moving constantly by this point in my pregnancy. And I mean constantly.

I was taken to the NST room and hooked up to the sensors. One to detect the baby’s heart rate and movement and the other to detect contractions.

The machine was turned on and that familiar galloping cadence of our baby’s heartbeat echoed rhythmically through the room. Such a beautiful, musical sound. Throughout our journey, whenever we heard his heartbeat, we were convinced that he had a perfectly healthy heart. After all, how can such a strong-sounding heartbeat originate from a so-called defected heart?

Of all times for our little guy to be inactive, it was at the start of the NST. The nurse ended up bringing me chocolate chip cookies and orange juice to sort of wake him up. When that still failed, she brought something that she called a “zapper”. Which was basically a little probe that causes a vibration against my belly which usually wakes most babies up. Our little guy started moving around, but 40 minutes later, he was apparently still “nonreactive” (meaning his heart rate did not accelerate enough compared to his movements).

Much to our dismay, we were sent away from our comfy New Jersey Ob-Gyn all the way to New York… again. Thus began yet another nerve-wracking journey across the bridge. I cried literally all the way there. I feared that something had gone fatally wrong with my ‘nonreactive’ baby who was totally still despite me repetitively poking my belly on the way to New York. At last, we arrived, and I was checked into a triage room for an extended NST.

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It was around 6pm EST when we were checked in. For hours, I lay there, listening to the cadence of my baby’s heart. Praying and hoping with all my might that the test would be reactive. We were told that when Braveheart moved, they were looking for a spike of 150+ that lasted X amount of seconds.

So every time his heart rate jumped and he started moving, my husband would leap out of his chair and run over to me to sing to my belly. Funny enough, it worked!

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It was quite a feat, but hours later, we heard the greatest news ever at the time: we would NOT be meeting our baby that night. There was no need for an emergency delivery. We could go home. We could have our baby shower.

That night was seriously one of the scariest nights of our lives. (so stressful that I had a few contractions, which the monitor picked up). It was such a long and stressful night. One in which we had to consider delivering a cardiac baby an entire month early. We wondered if he would survive, we wondered how his heart would handle an induction, we wondered if his heart condition would give him a lesser chance of survival if he was born prematurely. We simply weren’t ready.

It was also one of many, many NSTs, false alarms, and long nights in triage. But, we thank God for keeping our little Braveheart inside a while longer. For taking us through that nightmarish night and giving us a memory one of many miracles.

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