Having Yet Another Ultrasound and Why the Internet is a Terrible Place

My follow up ultrasound appointment at the perinatal clinic was this morning, and I couldn’t be happier with how it went. Naturally, I was nervous going in, but I was assured by the end that everything looks normal. There is no evidence of a cleft lip and palette (although that’s not a 100% guarantee), his growth looks good, he hasn’t magically become a girl… there was nothing significant to report. He’s very much on track, moving well, had a great heartbeat at 155 BPM and weighs 1 lb 1 oz. The relief I feel at not having screwed up my baby with my medical condition is beyond describing.

Naturally. Shawn and I would love our baby just the same if there were defects present. Let me be clear on that. However, as someone who has struggled with illness for a large portion of my life, I want the Little Man to start off with a clean slate if he’s able. I was healthy when I was a kid, and I want our son to be able to take advantage of an illness free childhood if at all possible. He’s not even going to have to deal with the chicken pox like I did! What a lucky little guy.

I think my mum really enjoyed being able to get a look at him and see him move. He still had his hands in front of his face, so we just got a little peek at his nose and lips again, but from profile, you can tell how much he’s grown in the last three weeks. I didn’t expect there to be such a difference already, at least not one that I could see. He definitely reminds me of his dad with his hands all curled by his face. Shawn often sleeps with one hand curled under his chin and the resemblance, even at this stage, is uncanny.

Now, here’s where the internet being awful comes in. The doctor asked me if I had done any reading on my medications and possible side effects during pregnancy. I have, as I’ve been on this particular med for many years, and always had an interest in what the possible complications could be when I decided to start a family. However, I didn’t do my research on the internet, at least not in the traditional sense. (By traditional sense, I mean punching something in to Google and going with whatever comes up.) I have a list of reliable medical resources that I’ve collected from my doctors over the years. and I don’t use anything but those. Why not? Frankly, nothing else can be trusted.

I have stopped going on to new mommy forums all together because of the ridiculous behaviour of some of these women. For example, there was one instance where a lady had been experiencing extreme lower abdominal pain for more than four hours, and instead of seeking medical help, decided to ask a bunch of non-medical people on an internet forum what to do. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe that there was only one person who responded with the good sense to tell her to get to a doctor ASAP. Everyone else just told her it was round ligament pain, so she shouldn’t worry.

What? Last I checked, forums were not chock full of doctors and pros, especially not forums dedicated to people in the same stage of pregnancy as you. Why are you taking a risk by asking Dr. Internet for help? Ask your OB, your midwife, the nurse on your local medical advice line… anyone but people on an internet forum. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

That would be like me asking other people who have taken my drug during pregnancy if I should do it or not. They’re not on the same dosage, don’t have the other risk factors I do (or have completely different ones), and many of them didn’t consult their doctors before making the decision to keep their medication regimen intact. Besides, just because one person who is just like me gets a certain result doesn’t mean that I will too. The internet, in general, is not for medical advice.

It’s like people who try to read statistics when they have no background doing so. For a lot of people, the fact that the rate of birth defects has been increasing is alarming. What most of the studies and articles telling you this don’t mention is the fact that the birth rate is also increasing. If there are more babies being born as a whole, there are going to be more birth defects. If the birth rate was dropping and we were still seeing an increase in birth defects, that would be something I would be concerned about. As it stands, nothing, for the most part, has changed.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the amount of information on pregnancy and birth sites that the average person doesn’t need to know. Having a list of all the possible things that could be wrong with your baby and the odds of it occurring is not a helpful thing to do. Growing a new person is stressful enough as it is; adding to that anxiety by finding lists of everything that could possible go wrong, no matter how remote, on every birth site is not helpful/ For the average person. they won’t know enough not to panic when they see the numbers. Unless, of course, they do more research. On the internet.

I find the internet, in general, to be a very alarmist place. I also find that anything bad and panic inducing will spread much more quickly than good news. I could point to all the anti-vaxxers, but that’s probably enough for a whole other post. Bad information will keep recirculating, while good information, for some reason, just fizzles out. Maybe that’s why so many old wives tales are still prevalent. Is it cold out? Did you get wet? Obviously, the combination of being wet and cold is the direct cause of you getting sick, not the fact that your immune system may have been compromised. My mother in law used a phrase a while ago that baffled me. She said that Shawn’s Nana had caught a cold in her back when she was up north. I’m not sure what that was supposed to mean or imply, but I’m pretty sure it’s not possible. Just like, for instance, having wet feet is not going to cause pneumonia. I once had a room mate who firmly believed that if you had cold wet feet for too long, you would get pneumonia. I guess all the water just magically travels up your legs and parks in your lungs. That must be it.

(I’m fully aware that I sound completely full of contempt. That’s because I am. There is so much medical proof, solid facts, that disprove these tall tales, and yet people still believe them. It boggles my mind.)

I also think the internet is a very dangerous place for hypochondriacs. In the pre-internet age, someone who was always worried that they had something new had to go to a library and sift through actual medical information to self diagnose. Not anymore! Dr. Google to the rescue! There is a particular person in our family who likes to do this a lot, not only for herself, but for her child. Her kid apparently had baby measles. For two days. She is a self diagnosed Celiac, as well, and her husband magically developed a lactose intolerance after meeting her, or so I’ve been told.

I also dated a guy who was the same way. This one got a little more personal, however, when he accused me of giving him chlamydia. He was having some funny penis stuff going on, looked up his symptoms on the internet and decided I must have given him an STD. He did get tested, but decided to tell me before the results came back. In case you were curious, he had two of the needed symptoms, and they are also the symptoms for a urinary tract infection, which is what he had. That was a super fun experience for me, not only because he didn’t believe me  when I said it was not possible,  but because he implied that it must be the case because I had had so many more sexual partners than he had (I was his third).

Self diagnosing is not only a pain in the ass for your doctor, but it can be dangerous for you. A lot of things present as something completely unrelated, and self diagnosing can lead to self medicating, which can lead to more problems. Here’s what I think: leave the medicine to the doctors. They spent a lot of time in school to be able to figure out what’s wrong with you. Let them do their jobs and leave Dr. Google out of it.

Is this getting a bit ranty? Absolutely, but I feel a little justified in it today. I have people looking up my disease and trying to “help” all the time. Recently, someone suggested that I try leeches. I’m not sure where they found that idea, or why they thought applying leeches to my body during pregnancy was a good idea, but okay. I also had a lady come up to me in the mall when I was shopping before the Comic Expo, looking very concerned. The conversation went something like this:

“Excuse me, but aren’t you concerned about your baby?”

“Uh, no. Not at the moment. Why?”

“Well, you’re wearing awfully tight clothes and I read on the internet that tight clothes are bad for pregnant women and can induce labour.” (I was wearing my most comfortable maternity jeans, a stretchy ribbed tank top, a peplum blazer that hits well above where my natural waist used to be and a wide belt just under my bust line.)

“I don’t mean to offend you, and I’m sorry if I do, but my pregnancy and what I choose to wear are none of your concern. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, and I would suggest that you keep your opinions to yourself in the future. Oh, and keep off the internet.”

“Fine. Kill your baby. See if I care!” <insert random lady storming off here>

At this point I was both bewildered and amused. As I’ve said before, pregnancy doesn’t make my life an open book to the world, and the internet doesn’t give the world some vast knowledge of everything there ever was to know. Quite the opposite. I hope I run in to her again after my son is born so I can show her how alive he is. Ha.

One last thing: social media. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (although there are days when it’s mostly hate). I don’t really post much about my pregnancy or the baby unless there’s been a major development. The hassle just isn’t worth it. However, there are people who assume that every single post I make is somehow related to my pregnancy. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s about the baby. I’m not one of those people who is planning to turn her Facebook page in to a shrine to her offspring. That’s weird. I will not be making my profile picture a huge picture of my baby’s face. That’s creepy. Why would I start before he’s even  born? I like being able to keep up with friends and family in different parts of the country and the world. Social media is good for that, but it’s also a giant pain the ass, and is one of the many internet evils.

Let’s end this on a positive note: The Little Man is doing great! His little hands are adorable, and it was so awesome to be able to see more definition in his fingers and toes. Even his nose looked more defined. If I could have an ultrasound once a month, I totally would. just so I can keep an actual eye on the little guy. I know that’s not going to happen, but today was a great day. Sure, it’s cold and raining and grey outside. But our baby is doing very well, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

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2 thoughts on “Having Yet Another Ultrasound and Why the Internet is a Terrible Place

  1. Spot on, as usual. I love the irony when people accuse you of not getting all the right research, and you ask them where they get the information for their ill formed opinions:
    “The internet. Why?”
    “I just find it hilarious that you accuse me of being a sheep for my trust in doctors, when you’re so arrogant as to assume you know more than people who have spent YEARS learning just because you read an article on a totally biased site.”
    “YOU NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF! DOCTORS ONLY WANT MONEY..

    I’m glad little man is baking nicely 🙂

    Like

    • Oh, obviously the doctors in our free health care system just want money. That’s totally it! Just wait and see what I have to write about today…

      And yes, he’s coming along nicely 🙂 We couldn’t be happier.

      Like

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