03 Feb I Learnt to Choose Peace Over Worry
By Vicky Ho
Before I had children, I thought my main concerns about my unborn child would be the gender, name and room colour. After having two children, these concerns were taken over by deeper anxieties about 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.”
This gave me perspective—I would still worry but I stopped fearing death and chose to simply love the life that has been given.
Then, my husband and I 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 fetal anomalies, with Down syndrome, in particular. 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 anomalies.
As explained by my 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 about being prepared and 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 syndrome.” He said it with such certainty and strength that his courage and faith were imparted to me.
I learnt that decision-making becomes much smoother when your husband shares the same values 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?
When I was 36 weeks along in my third pregnancy, because of an earlier miscarriage, my gynaecologist was very cautious and took great care of me and my unborn child.
In that final lap, he did a check on the fetal 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 fetal morbidity and mortality.”
The information on the Internet made me more anxious. Taking a good friend’s advice, I stopped reading these online pieces and started to rest more as recommended by my gynaecologist. During the extended medical leave, 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 our active children. 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 never been fuller. Few things in life are capable of giving us such deep joy as the gift of children.
Vicky finds joy in conversations and coffee with good friends. A working mum, every day is a juggling act as she strives to be fully present for her two young boys. While life can sometimes spin out of control, she is thankful for her husband’s constant encouragement and humour.