I was so nervous during my first pregnancy. But I wasn’t as nervous about pregnancy or delivery as I was about what it was going to be like when my child was born. I wanted to feel certain I would know how to parent – how to be a good mother. I was terrified that I wasn’t capable. So when I went to my doctor appointments, I was present and I was paying attention – but I really just wanted someone to tell me that it would all be okay. As long as my doctor said everything looked fine, I would roll off of the table and walk out, focused on the momentous road ahead of me.
I remember my doctor casually mentioning Counts the Kicks during one visit. I think she may have even given me a pamphlet. But a pamphlet wasn’t enough to convince me to add a new routine to my day. I knew the gist was that I should pay attention to my baby’s movements and make sure that they remained consistent.
As my pregnancy wound down, my anxiety started ramping up. Oh my god; he’s almost here, I kept thinking. I might have four weeks left on my own. Three weeks. Two.
In the middle of my ruminating on his arrival, my little boy stopped moving as much. But I was too focused on the end to notice. I wasn’t counting his kicks.
At my 38-week appointment, the nurse decided to do an ultrasound. There hadn’t been one scheduled, but she thought it would be good to take a peek inside. A few minutes in and I knew something was wrong. The technician was silent. She kept asking me to move slightly to my right and slightly to my left and standing very, very still. My baby was barely moving. She asked if I had noticed less movement lately. And the truth was, I had. But I thought I was just noticing less because he was running out of space.
I was immediately induced. Not only had I lost the majority of the amniotic fluid without awareness, but the cord was also wrapped around my son’s neck. We met our little boy two days later, after an emergency C-section.
I am lucky. My baby is lucky. We are incredibly lucky to have ended up together. We almost didn’t.
Now I beg my friends to count their kicks when they are pregnant with their little ones. I try to intimate the importance of it in my words. Counting kicks is the easiest way to check in on your little one. They need you to. It’s like a barometer of their health. It’s like an ultrasound from the outside. It’s a way to know if they are safe on the inside. It’s a way to ensure they make it out to you.
Kelly Green is a writer living in Iowa. She has written for The Billfold, Mom.me and more. You can find her published writing at kellygreen2.contently.com