Before I get started, it is very important that anyone reading this understands the following:
- I am not a medical professional and the information in this blog entry is not and should not be taken as medical advice of any kind.
- The information in this blog entry is based on my health, fitness, and personal experience – everyone is different and no pregnant woman should start or continue exercise routines without consult of her doctor.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s chat. This week at an ultrasound, I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios which means I have an excess of amniotic fluid. According to most research, it occurs in about 1% of pregnancies. It all started because I was measuring big, but there’s more to the story than that…
A few weeks ago, I started to get some red flags. I went to a monthly prenatal appointment mid-January to discover that I gained six pounds in two weeks (which was NOT the normal weight gain pace for me). At the appointment before that, I gained three pounds in four weeks. Everyone kinda wrote it off as “it was the holidays,” but I didn’t buy that – I went in once after the holidays already and I didn’t gain six pounds in two weeks. At the time I gained six pounds so quickly, my fundal height measured two weeks ahead, and that’s still in the normal range. Plus, from what I understand, fundal height measurements can be pretty inaccurate.
I let it rest, but I struggled to figure out what caused such rapid weight gain. I changed nothing. I continued my mileage and at exactly the same. Four pounds in two weeks would have been believable on a small person in her third trimester, but six seemed excessive.
At the next appointment, I gained three pounds in two weeks, so it seemed like things were back to normal for me. However, the funal height showed me measuring three weeks ahead – out of the normal range. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, and if she didn’t, I would have requested one. As a potential VBAC patient, I wanted to know where the big measurements were coming from.
The ultrasound technician told me we probably wouldn’t get a good photo of the baby because he’s squished this far along, and surprisingly to all of us, he showed up bright and clear – and in the 64th percentile for growth. Her first thought was that I may have an excess of fluid, which is what made the great photos of his face this far along possible!
She was correct. A normal amount of amniotic fluid carries a number of 24 (though some healthcare professionals stretch it to 25), and I was sitting at 28. It is considered mild polyhydramnios – thank God. But there are concerns.
First off, there are a lot of cases where no one really figures out what causes the excess fluid. Sometimes it’s baby’s genetics or there’s an issue with the baby’s heart, but thanks to the NIPT followed by genetic counseling, that isn’t the case here. Other common reasons are infection or that the baby has trouble swallowing; therefore, s/he puts out more fluid that is taken in. In other words, the baby isn’t drinking a lot of the fluid but is peeing a lot of it out. That’s doubtful, especially considering that our XYY chromosomal abnormality possibility (which carries only a 25% chance of a positive result) doesn’t cause anything like that. Gestational diabetes can also play a role, but I passed my glucose test with flying colors.
There’s a good chance that I fall into the “we just don’t really know” category.
Obviously, one of the biggest symptoms of this is feeling huge and short of breath. I kinda wrote this off because who doesn’t feel huge and (sometimes) short of breath in the third trimester? It was odd, though – I didn’t ever feel out of breath when running, but I did when I had my arms above my head. So there’s that.
Another sign is excessive weight gain, hence the six pounds in a week…
I wasn’t sure what they’d do with me, but they figured it out pretty quickly: See a high risk doctor, two non-stress tests per week, one ultrasound per week, and the possibility of another scheduled c-section.
Jeez, I thought. Just for extra fluid?
Turns out there can be some serious issues caused by extra fluid:
- Cord prolapse (the cord emerges before the baby does, which is an emergency situation)
- Placenta detachment (also an emergency)
- Premature labor (your water could break because your uterus can only hold so much fluid)
And some less serious issues:
- Baby’s head never engages because he’s basically in a swimming pool and it just doesn’t work out (which means a c-section)
- Lots of false labor stuff (contractions, but not the ones that matter just yet).
Stuff no one wants to think about, right?
Here’s the good news: I am 35 weeks tomorrow, not 25. I obviously want the baby to go full term, but if he’s born at say…37 weeks, it’s not ideal but it’s also not an extremely dangerous point in the pregnancy to have a baby. I hope I make it to 37 weeks. I’m a small person, guys – I’m concerned that I can only pack so much fluid.
Even so, my doctor has assured me that I can and should continue my same activity levels, including running. Today, I ran two miles – and it was glorious. Today was the first time that I was able to run two miles consecutively; usually I need to get off the treadmill and take a break.
But honestly, that’s the thing about running. It’s exhausting (even more so now), but it has a way of making us feel alive. Somehow, the fatigue from exhausting ourselves through running morphs into potent energy and improved mental stamina. I told my husband today that running is keeping me sane, and it truly is.
Running has been there for me during this whole pregnancy, and it’s stood close by me and hasn’t let me down.
On the days where I ran four miles in July heat and felt afraid that it wasn’t the best idea, running stay by my side.
When I cried uncontrollably on the treadmill because I ran a mile over 13 minutes as oppose to my normal pace of sub 9ish and some, knowing what running can do for me helped me get back on the treadmill day after day, mile after mile, even when those miles are now double what my usual pace is.
When I got news that I have some condition that occurs in 1% of pregnancy, one that creates and even BIGGER center of gravity, it’s running that helped me handle that news.
I have come so far that I just don’t have it in me to give up. It’s hard. My feet hurt and most people are telling me to “just relax” but running is relaxation for me. I don’t want to put my feet up; I want to pound the pavement. I don’t want to do a lame workout DVD where I barely sweat; I want to pretend I see a finish line in front of me and push myself a little harder. I don’t want to read a book and just sit still; I want to blast my running playlist and think about how much I have learned from running in the past 34 weeks and 1 day.
Through all of it – six pounds in a week (now totaling 42), good news, bad news, no news…running has been there for me, and I will continue to be there for running. It is my refuge and my safe place, and I’m glad to be on this journey.