The most important thing in life, and especially in new and (sometimes) scary situations, is human connection. I felt comfort throughout my whole pregnancy, and let’s be honest throughout my whole life, in knowing that I’m not the only one to experience a certain scenario or feeling. I hope this post reaches at least one person reading and potentially eases their isolation (for lack of better words).
Looking back on my pregnancy, I feel very lucky as far as the day-to-day life during pregnancy goes. I never really got morning sickness, I didn’t swell or have weird cravings, I just feel lucky! However, there were a few things that not many people know that really shook up the experience and made it a little more worrisome than usual.
From our first ultrasound and every time we heard baby’s heart beat at the doctor she would say something like, “Sounds perfect!” or “Oh, wow, that’s your baby’s heartbeat, not a fake recording of a perfect heartbeat!” (she really did say that). Hearing the word “perfect” come out of her mouth always gave me such a bad feeling, like she was jinxing me. At our 20-week, much anticipated, anatomy scan appointment, the ultrasound tech went through all the parts with us and happily told us, “Baby isn’t hiding anything…he’s definitely a boy!” Towards the end of the ultrasound she got a little quieter and just snapped pictures of our ultrasound and then printed a few and sent us on our way to see our doctor. Brock and I, of course, immediately texted family and friends and excitedly told them the news of our little boy, we were on cloud nine! The doctor came in to the room and started by saying “Everything looks so great!” but we could feel the “but…” that was coming next. She told us that there is a measurement on a baby called a “nuchal fold.” It is basically the thickness of the skin behind the baby’s upper spine on their neck. She told us what a typical measurement for the nuchal fold was at this point in pregnancy and then told us that our sweet boy’s nuchal fold measured above that normal range. The first thought I had was, “OK, so what? He’s got thick skin.” She then told us that this measurement, if large, was a marker for trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome). From then on, my brain went to over drive and I don’t remember all of the details she said next. However, she did tell us we had three options. First option was to do nothing, the second was to get a genetic screening done via a blood draw from mom, and the third was to see a specialist down at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The range of seriousness between the three options left me feeling scared and totally thrown off. Brock and I didn’t even need to talk about it, no matter what our sweet boy’s outcome was, we would raise him and love him with everything we had. However, because Down’s Syndrome is something that neither of us knew much about, we decided to get the genetic testing done to be sure. That way if he was at risk for having Down’s Syndrome we could begin to prepare for his arrival as far as who would stay home with him, who would work, what resources we would need, what information and education we would need beforehand, etc. The very next morning, I went to the lab and got my blood drawn (by the grumpy and insensitive employees at the lab… but that’s a different story for a different day) for the genetic testing to be sent out. They told me I would hear results back in two weeks! TWO WEEKS! Every day I worked to prepare my heart for either outcome and towards the end of the waiting time I was at peace with whatever might come and just felt so thankful to be given a chance to be a mommy at all. The receptionist finally called one day while I was at work and let me know that the genetic screen all came back “negative” and that he was indeed a boy!
When he finally joined us in this world in May, we learned that he did in fact have a “thick” neck. He’s always had a thick amount of skin and had rolls around his cute little body, and that’s completely OK with me. Now, I understand that this outcome may not be the same for everyone. But, pregnancy is scary and so unknown. Doctors have so many terms, so many tests, so many explanations, so many “ifs.” And maybe pregnancy is scary and unknown because it’s attempting to prepare us for the multitude of “scary” and “unknowns” in motherhood? One thing I am sure of that this experience taught me is that every sweet baby is perfect in his or her own little way and if we used this community as our own little “village,” just think of the magnificently unique humans we could raise.