April 5, 2023

Pregnancy Worries, Fears And Prenatal Test Results

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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I've come to realize that pregnancy is an exercise in controlling worry and fear. Even if all goes well, that worry and fear will only grow more acute as baby grows and develops. I guess this is what motherhood is all about. I’ve never appreciated my mother more.

For me, there are the usual pregnancy fears of getting the right amount of rest, eating the right kinds and amounts of food, and wondering if I’ll truly ever be ready for parenthood. With my history of miscarriages, I fear bleeding or spotting any time I go to the bathroom. Now that I am able to discern the baby’s movements, I worry whenever the little one feels motionless inside of me. I never go down a flight of stairs without clinging to the handrails. I avoid driving my car. I don’t even like going outside, but I still do so because I know I need the vitamin D.

Each visit to my midwife helps because I get to hear my baby’s heartbeat still going strong or see my little one moving about during a sonogram. However, those visits come with their own concerns. Since I am over the age of 35, my delicate condition is officially regarded as an “elderly pregnancy.” Besides doing nothing for my self-esteem, this special classification requires me to take more precautions and tests as my pregnancy progresses. During my most recent visit, I had to take genetic counseling in which I went over my and my husband’s family’s medical history to determine if the baby was at risk for any genetic or developmental disorders.

Following the genetic counseling, I was asked if I wanted to perform an amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or Harmony test to verify that the baby is developing correctly and detect any potential birth defects or issues. Since the amniocentesis and CVS are more invasive tests that come with a risk of miscarriage, I opted for the Harmony test and rushed off to the lab to have my blood drawn. I was advised that I would get my results within the next couple of weeks. A phone call would mean bad news. A letter in the mail would mean good news. The only reason I didn’t fall out in fear right there in the doctor’s office was because I held pictures of my sonogram in my hand. My baby’s head and butt look just like his/her father’s.

Ten days passed and my cell phone rang. I recognized my doctor’s phone number right away and my heart felt as if it would liquify and leak out of my pores. I sat down and let all of my worst fears wash over me: Edwards’ syndrome, Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy. I pulled out the sonogram pictures and regarded my tiny little child. I was too much in love. No matter what challenges I faced with him/her, he/she was still a blessing because he/she came from the love that my husband and I share. I waited a good 15 minutes and returned the call.

A ridiculously cheery nurse answered the line and told me that her name was something ridiculously bubbly like Susie or Candy or Bambi. We exchanged necessary pleasantries. Yes, I’m Nikki Igbo returning your call. Yes, I’m doing well, thank you. She went into her spiel about my Harmony test results, and it turned out that nothing in my genetic makeup would cause me to be prone to miscarriages. She gushed as if she personally won the lottery for $50 million. Of course, I was confused. I asked about the baby’s development and Susie/Candy/Bambi informed me that my initial results were all about my genetic makeup. The baby’s particulars would come later. I wished Susie/Candy/Bambi a good day, hung up the phone, and let out a curse-laced rant loud enough to wake a couple of dead presidents.

Then I held my belly and apologized. After all, worry, fear and anger is no good for the baby.

A few days later, I received a letter in the mail from my physician informing me that my child was not at risk for any genetic disorders. The letter also read: “Reports a MALE baby.” I’m having a son. My husband and I are having a son! I suddenly had an urge for onion rings.

Radiant is a bi-annual print and digital health magazine dedicated to the discerning African woman and her journey to wellness through health, beauty and culture. Available at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (see stockists) and online. Ships worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free digital copy of issue No.06.

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