Why Counting Kicks Matters

Kelly Peña didn’t want to overreact. But her baby wasn’t kicking, and she knew from reading an article about counting kicks here at that her daughter should be responding. Was she overreacting, or was her baby in real danger? Here, Kelly shares her remarkable story.

By Kelly R. Peña, as told to Melissa Rayworth

I was tired, but I really didn’t mind. When you’re raising a little boy already, life can’t stop just because there’s a sweet baby girl on the way. I was seven months pregnant, still working at my retail job and going about my normal routine. My blood pressure was up a bit, but all in all things seemed to be bubbling along just fine.

Then one Tuesday evening after work, I realized: I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt a good kick from my baby. I remembered reading an article here at that said the baby should kick after I ate. So I ate. I didn’t feel her move much, but it was late at night. Maybe she was just sleeping? I went to bed thinking maybe we both just needed some rest. But when I woke in the morning, her lack of movement was the first thing on my mind.

I remembered the article said I should be able to feel her move 10 times in an hour after I ate. Especially after sugar. So I grabbed a Pop-Tart and drove to work, focusing the entire ride and still feeling nothing. About an hour into my workday, my brain wouldn’t shut up about how I should have felt a good kick.

The article said that I should call my doctor if she didn’t respond. I hesitated, worrying that I’d sound like a crazy pregnant lady if I called when things otherwise seemed fine. But I decided to risk it. And that decision saved my daughter’s life. Since my retail job happens to be at the hospital I was planning to deliver at, my doctor’s office told me to get checked out on the labor and delivery floor immediately. I hesitated again, because I really didn’t want to bother the hospital with my silly hormonal worries that she wasn’t moving much. Honestly, all I wanted was to hear her heartbeat.

But I took my doctor’s advice and went anyway. They ran a fetal non-stress-test (NST), which showed little movement. They said I needed an ultrasound to check further. I thought they were going above what was necessary. Her heart was beating, so we were good, right? Then the ultrasound showed me why they were so concerned. Even with a buzzer, she would not move. Something was seriously wrong. Suddenly they were telling me to get my cell phone and call whomever was supposed to be at the delivery, because she had to come out right now. I was in shock the entire time they prepped me for surgery. An emergency C-section? I kept thinking, “No! This is not what I had planned.” But she had to come out if she was going to live.

My husband made it just in time to throw on scrubs before the doctor pulled Layla out. Just four hours had passed from the time I’d called my doctor to the moment she was born. The doctor said that my placenta was 75 percent nonfunctioning. Layla had been slowly shutting down, saving her energy to pump her heart. They do not know how long it had been that way. It might have been related to my high blood pressure and/or because of a calcification of my placenta. The cause of the calcification is unknown.

How to Count Your Baby’s Kicks

In the end, none of the amazing doctors and nurses who saved Layla know why this happened. They just know that if I had waited until the end of the day, she probably would not have lived. Layla was born 10 weeks early, and the amazing NICU staffed helped her through those fragile first weeks when she wasn’t really ready to be out in the world.

It was an experience I never saw coming. But it’s amazing how you adjust to a new situation. After several weeks in the NICU, you celebrate the little things that you would have otherwise taken for granted: Layla could breathe on her own. She could eat on her own. Step by step, she was getting stronger and closer to coming home. We still worried, of course. Leaving the NICU each day was very hard, but the staff at the hospital was amazing. We wouldn’t have been able to handle all of this without them.

For such a horrible experience, it has also been an amazing few weeks built on hope, community and caring. She finally came home [recently] and she is such a blessing to our family. I now tell every expecting mom to count her kicks and get checked out if something seems wrong. I was so worried that the hospital staff would laugh at me and say that I was just a silly, crazy pregnant lady that I almost didn’t go get checked out. As it turned out it was the best decision in our lives.

So please, spread the word. Maybe it will save a life.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Latest WhatToExpect Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *