This afternoon I went to my first ever non-stress test sans Braeden and hubby. The doctors have decided to do weekly NSTs because of my blood pressure being elevated and the fact that this pregnancy is already complicated to begin with. During an NST, they look at baseline fetal heart rate, the variability of the fetal heart rate, accelerations or decelerations in the fetal heart rates, kick counts (you have to press a button whenever the baby kicks), and contractions. The NST is considered reassuring if the baby has two episodes of accelerations during the 20 minutes of monitoring.
The very nice nurse hooked me up to the monitor (just like the one you get put on when you are in labor) and positioned me comfortably on my side reclining in a chair (so much better bedside manner than at the fetal MRI last week!). Right off the bat, Ashlyn had a beautiful acceleration. Good, I thought, this should be easy! Unfortunately, she proceeds to start having decelerations soon after that....She would drop lower than her baseline fetal heart rate, but very quickly recover. I read online (since I didn't end up getting a great explanation as to why this was happening) that these variable decels can be related to the baby movements or to cord compression. Sometimes the decels correlated to when I indicated that I felt a kick.
Toward the end of the 20 minutes, there was only one good acceleration so the nurse tried some manual stimulation by pressing on my uterus. This did help Ashlyn have another good acceleration. No contractions at all during the test. The nurse took the tracing to show the doctor in the office because of the frequency of the variable decels. Here is part of the actual NST tracing from today:
The nurse came back pretty quickly and asked how I would like to get another picture of my little girl. Another ultrasound? I just had one last Monday! Of course, I did not complain...I love getting ultrasounds and seeing my princess. I had to wait 5 minutes, but they squeezed me in for an impromptu ultrasound. I was nervous worrying that something was really wrong causing my baby to be distress....but the nurse was very reassuring. The ultrasound checked out according the tech after she reviewed the results with the doctor. According to the tech, they were just checking the amount of amniotic fluid, which was completely normal.
During the quick ultrasound, I watched as she measured the ventricle size again....We are up to 19 and 22 mm (up from 16 and 19 mm one week ago) and 7.8 mm for the third ventricle (up from 6.6 mm...keep in mind this is the ventricle that is barely visible on an ultrasound normally). No one commented on this significant increase in one week, but it is obvious that this is a problem that will keep getting worse in a short period of time. The head circumference was not measured this time around...but her head is starting to look bigger than normal on the scans....
Luckily, in 4 weeks I will be 37 weeks and if needed Ashlyn can be delivered so that she can be monitored on the outside. I was content of waiting as long as possible before delivering...but now I feel like it might be in her best interest to come out earlier so evaluations and interventions can be made. It makes me nervous knowing her ventricles are getting further dilated causing fluid to accumulate in her brain. As the pressure in the brain increases that is when you have to start wondering what kind of non-reversible neurological damage has been done....This just keeps getting harder and harder to deal with. I know we can handle it, but I just wish that my daughter did not have to go through all this. For goodness sakes, she is not even born yet.....I just want her to have a normal life because that is what every child deserves.
Here is the latest picture of Ashlyn Grace: