It is amazing how a day can go from uneventful to the exact opposite in less than a second. I simply unplugged our computer from our converter (it's an American computer) and got a painful shock to the right hand. This is normally not the kind of thing a person would think twice about. But it bothered me. What would happen if I got a shock like that while sitting in the bathtub? Would I get burned? Would my heart stop? Well, if the shock went through the uterus, the baby IS essentially in a bathtub. I thought about going immediately to the ER because, well, if it's heart had stopped, something needed to be done immediately. But I told myself that I was a total paranoid hypochondriac. I ran to the train with my computer in backpack, made a phone call, got on the train and then started reading an article about electric shock on the internet. This one: http://drugsafetysite.com/electricity/#
From household voltages of 110 to 220 alternating current, they found a 71% death rate among the fetuses. Most immediate. Others up to three days later. Oh my GOD. I hadn't felt the baby move since the shock. I screamed in my seat on the train. People started looking at me. I ran into the bathroom and started screaming and crying, not knowing what to do. I called SR and he didn't answer. So I called the Danish equivalent of 911, which is 112. They told me to find the train conductor and get him to stop the train. But even in my panicked state, I was not about to have the train conductor stop in the middle of the woods. "Just tell me if it's dangerous or not!!!!" I replied. He got a nurse on the line, who told me to get off the train at the next stop and go to the ER. I had to wait a few minutes for the next stop. SR called back. He told me I was crazy to worry and that he had to go to a meeting. So who was right? I sat down in total agony. And then I thought I felt the baby kick. Oh yes! Yes! But I got off the train anyway and headed to the ER, feeling more than a little reassured.
At the ER they thought I was bat shit crazy. And I would have thought the same thing about me just an hour earlier. But why didn't they know about the dangers? Or what was with that internet website? They did all kinds of monitoring of me and I was like "I am NOT worried about me. I am worried about the baby. Can't I just get a doppler?" I lay there completely bare-chested with ginormous preggo boobs (everything is relative) getting an ekg when the doctor walked in. He smiled and introduced himself and asked if I was SR's wife. They were apparently med school buddies and he was apparently unoffended by my shirtlessness. I told him about my concerns and then he said "Well, I looked it up and found a Danish midwife who had written on an internet forum that there is nothing to worry about."
Is this what modern medicine has come to? Doctor 1 comes to the ER scared by an article on the internet only to have Doctor 2 tell her not to be frightened because he had read something else on the internet? (Anyone starting to understand why I doubt doctors so much?)
I was taken up to the obstetrical department where they once again thought I was bat shit crazy. I had felt the baby move many times by now but just wanted someone knowledgeable to talk to. Well, this wasn't meant to be. I got a doppler from an obstetrical nurse and everything sounded fine. I aksed her if she could at least confer with an obsterician and long as I was there and she did. But I didn't get any sort of an answer other than everything would be okay.
Maybe most other women would have been satisfied. But I had read reports of badly burned babies dying days or weeks later and couldn't let it rest. I mean, at least my understanding from physics was that current in through the hand has to be grounded somewhere and the easiest way to the ground is through the foot (am I wrong?)- and thus through the baby in the little amniotic bathtub on the way.
But remember - negative outcomes are the ones that get published. And women who just get a shock and forget about it never get written about. Yet, I wouldn't blame you for still being worried.
But I am not going to leave you (or myself) in a state of doubt. I found a good study. A study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology where they looked at 32 random women who had received shocks from household appliances and other much higher electric voltages and called for advice. Out of the 32, there were two spontaneous abortions, one which was proven to be unrelated and the other one was unlikely to be related. Otherwise all babies survived unaffected.
Accidental electric shock in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study.Einarson A - Am J Obstet Gynecol - 01-MAR-1997; 176(3): 678-81 Their bottom line was "in the typical home scenario ... hand-to-hand electric shock does not pose a major fetal risk."
Thanks to Adrienne Einarson, the author of the study above, this story has a happy ending. But I'm not about to go playing with that converter again while pregnant.