Fifth percentile baby. What does this mean? The last weeks of my pregnancy spent full of worry and anxiety.

 

 

At 37 weeks pregnant, finished up with work and newly enjoying a spell of maternity leave, I didn’t expect one of my last midwife appointments to have me leaving teary eyed, panicked and uncertain of what was next to come. All being well and keeping in good health; eating well, getting my 5 a day and then some, the vitamins, exercise.. I had presumed that my baby was safe and sound, cooking away nicely until she decides to make her appearance in the world..

I was in for a shock when I went to my midwife appointment last week, how was I so naive to believe that everything was going perfect and I’d be sent on my merry way after a quick check? How did I not sense something was wrong? Throughout this whole pregnancy I have had such little issues or health fears. Alone and with a new midwife for the first time, the usual questions were asked; how am I? how was I feeling? and the usual checks were made of baby. Heartbeat strong, measurements not quite adding up to expectations. After some prodding and accurate measurements taken by two different midwives, I was told that I had static growth of baby, meaning she has not grown for the past two weeks since the last appointment and was referred to the hospital for a scan come two days time. Hearing those words “static growth”, “scan”, “hospital”….immediately my heart was racing and my eyes were filling, thinking something quite terrible was wrong. I kept it together for the remainder of my appointment, though further information was not taken in, my mind was elsewhere and in a state of panic. I didn’t know if my baby was OK, if this was something I had enforced or if I would even get to leave the hospital upon arrival when I went. I was afraid and worried about the welfare of my baby. I didn’t know what this would mean for the future or family life.

Having told Euan, my mum and some close friends, I felt a little reassured by their words but without having that all important scan and speaking to professionals, I was none the wiser as to whether something was up and spent the next two days worrying and going over scenarios in my head. Was I going to be induced? Would a section be required? Was my child developing well? Had I caused this pause in growth somehow? Why had this happened? There were so many questions and no answers. I was at a loss.

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Being a new mum and having no experience of this situation or having even heard of this before I was afraid. When carrying a child, they become your main priority and the welfare of that tiny human is all too important. You get on with your pregnancy and unless you in yourself feel unwell or notice a change, you just presume that it is all going good and the baby is well. I was wrong to have assumed this was the case. To think that my childs health could be in turmoil, it was devastating and equally heartbreaking. I was worried.

I have no idea what to expect with this news. I know that myself and Euan are both small, under 5ft 5in and did not exceed 7lbs as newborns ourselves nor did any of my siblings, so with that notion, it could just be that genetically our baby is due to be small. I mean, we didn’t expect a giant nor our newborn baby to exceed 7lbs by any means. However, there is a chance that something more sinister is going on inside and that is what threatens me. Will my child require special care? Neo natal care? Will they perhaps grow to a certain point and stop, never making it to the full adult size? Are there any issues with their brain or other vital organs?

That evening, late on, I spent some time in the Westburn ward at the maternity hospital. I had concerns about the baby’s movements and felt that she had almost stopped moving around. I certainly didn’t feel her move as ferocious as normal, no big rolls or heavy kicks. It all seemed quiet, too quiet. With the news I received earlier that morning, I didn’t want to leave it to chance or presume she was OK and so went to the hospital for some checks. I don’t know if due to my mindset I was led to believe she wasn’t moving the same or if the movements had changed, it’s quite a blur but I am glad we had the required checks done. It brought some peace of mind. Thankfully, everything was good on paper, heart was ticking away, strong as ever.  I was reassured and able to go home to rest, wait until the ever important scan.

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  (these were the fabric straps from the night at hospital which the heartbeat monitor was hooked up too and stuck around my tummy, these mean so much and more. They gave hope when I struggled  and will forever be important,)

At the scan, the sonographer was concerned with the growth and wanted us to be checked over by a consultant. Not exactly the all clear we had hoped for, but glad to be in the right hands and cared for. Our baby was measuring at 32 weeks, five full weeks behind on the head and femur,and estimated to weigh just a teeny 5lb 3. Our baby is in the fifth percentile – below average size of babies. We didn’t know anything about the fifth percentile or what this term would mean until some further investigations. Unsettling as this was to hear, there was still the potential that this was all just down to genetics and nothing too crazy was ongoing. Baby looked well, and the heart was going strong. There was nothing pointed out, besides her size that was expected to be a potential issue.

After an anxious wait, we got to chat briefly with a consultant who had said that yes, our baby is smaller than average but may come fine within a few weeks and catch up. They did not really have any answers nor know if we would be looking at neo natal care or any other issues with our baby.  We left almost none the wiser to the situation as we were when we entered the hospital. The outcome was that we have to return for two further scans to monitor the growth and take things from there. Wether I will be induced or expect a section is still unknown and scarily, we still don’t know exactly what is wrong with our baby, why growth has paused and if this will be able to be recovered from or if there will be lasting effects that may be damaging for our child. There seems to be little that we can do in this moment but wait and remain healthy and positive for the sake of our child’s health. As the consultant allowed us to leave and didn’t seem to have great concerns, I’m taking this as a positive and hoping all is well. Surely, if there was anything of danger or causing harm on the scan, action would have been taken sooner? Providing I feel baby continue to move around and eat plenty, we have been told not to worry, any concerns and we can call up the midwife unit.

I really don’t know what I would have done without the support of my boyfriend by my side. His calm and understanding nature, positivity and light have helped so much at this time. Every cuddle, reassuring word, the gentle kisses, it all makes this uneasy time a little easier. I can’t imagine a better life partner to have by my side or to be going through this with. It confirms that I am with the perfect man for me and our baby will be well and truly cared for. They will have a wonderful father in their life to raise and teach them, knowing this makes me so happy, I cannot express in words or writing how much that means.

The past week has been a whole whirlwind of emotions and stress to say the least. I just want to know if my baby girl is healthy and well. I cannot express how terrible I will feel if she has been suffering inside, especially if I haven’t been able to sense this. It is one week until we have the next scan, I will be just over 38 weeks pregnant, basically ready to pop! I am interested to see if there has been improvements with growth but equally nervous in case there is no improvement or growth has even deteriorated. There is know way of knowing until the scan and until that time, I am working on eating as much as I can to keep baby strong, taking in plenty of calcium and vitamins and just generally remaining healthy. I am keen to remain positive, and I am hoping that this is all a big misunderstanding and that our baby has made it up in size or at least, the only issue is that we are to expect a smaller baby due to the genetic make up.

 

 

I am hopeful that this will all blow over and turn out to be absolutely fine and our little baby girl will arrive safe and sound when she is good and ready. I am going to enjoy the last leg of my pregnancy, and my maternity leave as I should. They say you never get this time back, after all. I aim to take plenty of leisure naps, enjoy watching my baby wriggle and move in my tummy, morphing into all sorts of peculiar shapes. I will enjoy staying up a bit later and watching TV shows with Euan on the couch – something I haven’t really been able to do due to being tired an awful lot.I will treasure every last hiccup, movement and every kick as intense as it may be – she’s a tough cookie for sure.  I aim to take as much belly pictures and videos as I can, to capture this whole  journey in it’s full glory. My body has done amazing, I have grown a tiny human, a baby! I need to mark this moment. All the while, I aim to ensure that I get in as much desserts and ice cream as I can. Better make the most of this while it lasts, I can’t rock a baby bump forever!

 

 

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