Before I had children, I thought my main concerns about my unborn child would be the gender, name and room colour. Six years and two children later, these concerns were taken over by deeper anxieties concerning life and death.
Will I lose my baby during the first trimester?
This question surfaced in different forms at various stages during my first pregnancy. When the taxi driver was speeding, I imagined getting into an accident. Whenever I walked down the stairs, I wondered if I would miss a step and fall. Was the baby’s heart still beating? Would the uncooked ham I ate hurt my child?
So I spent 60% of my time worrying and the remaining 40% trying to get as much rest as possible. Then, I read what Lorilee Craker wrote in her book, When the Belly Button Pops, the Baby’s Done:
“… Don’t let the fear of what might happen dampen the joy and the love and the fabulousness of these early weeks. And don’t hold back your love in an effort to protect your own heart. Even if the worst should happen and you do lose your baby, you will know that you loved that child with all your heart. The reward of that experience should last for all time. And imagine that grand and beautiful day in heaven when you hold your child in your arms.”
This gave me perspective – I would still worry but I stopped fearing death and chose to simply love the life that was given.
Then, we were asked the question, “Would you like to do the OSCAR screening?”
In brief, this is a combination test done in the first trimester to screen for risk of foetal anomalies, in particular Down syndrome. The screening would help us find out if our baby had a high risk of chromosomal defects, following which I could opt for a diagnostics test to ascertain the present anomalies.
Simply put by my consulting gynaecologist, if we had already decided to keep the baby regardless, we need not consider the risk assessment. But if we do want to take the screening, we must be prepared to take the invasive diagnostic test which carries a small risk of miscarriage.
For some, I understand that this is a matter of being prepared and that there is no intention of terminating the pregnancy. However, in my mind then, I was battling with thoughts of “what if” and “but”, and it was a question of “Would I keep my baby regardless?” for me. Thankfully, my husband’s reassuring voice cut through my racing thoughts, “We’ll keep the baby even if she has Down’s.” He said it with such certainty and strength that his courage and faith was imparted to me and my fear was dispelled.
So, they were right – your husband needs to share the same value and faith as you. In my moments of emotional upheaval during this first trimester, he remained the steady anchor.
Sinusoidal Heart Rate Pattern – What’s That?
Five months ago, I was 36 weeks along in my third pregnancy and because of a miscarriage during my second pregnancy, my consulting gynaecologist had been very cautious and took great care of me and my unborn child.
In that final lap, he did a check on the foetal heartbeat and told us that it showed a sinusoidal pattern. While he did take time to explain it to me, I later took to the Internet for more information which I greatly regretted because I couldn’t unread what I saw - “The true sinusoidal pattern is rare but ominous and is associated with high rates of foetal morbidity and mortality.”
The information on the Internet made me more anxious. Taking a good friend’s advice, I stopped reading from these online sources and started to rest more as my gynaecologist had recommended. During the extended medical leave I was given, I had time to slow down, reflect and once again, embrace the process of carrying a baby. And the words of Craker returned to me, “Even if the worst should happen and you do lose your baby, you will know that you loved that child with all your heart.”
Truly, Every Child Is A Gift
Today, my husband and I are constantly on the move with an active 5-year-old and a needy 4-month-old. They say, “The days are long but the years are short” - it is true. We are often found slumped on our sofa by nine every night, physically and mentally drained, but our hearts have not been fuller. Few things in life are capable of giving us such deep joy as the gift of children.
Be prepared and overcome the challenges of parenting a newborn by equipping yourself with the essential tools and practical tips at our upcoming Parenting with Confidence workshop.
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