My First Pregnancy Trimester
My first pregnancy trimester was a rollercoaster of emotions with anything from joy, excitement, exhilaration, nervousness and fear. When I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test I had bought at the drug store, I couldn't believe it. It was beyond my wildest imagination that there was someone growing inside me. I was truly excited and already very impatient. Waiting for 8 more months seemed impossible.
As I am mostly vegan, I bought a dietary supplement which includes folic acid, iodine, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Nicotinamide, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and biotin. Folic acid is essential for the growth of the baby and should be taken in by vegans and non-vegans alike.
I was experiencing severe nausea between week 5 and week 8 which started to get better in week 9. Weeks 5 to 8 were definitely the worst ones. I felt miserable, it was hard to eat and getting up to walk my dogs was the hardest thing ever. The nausea didn't result in vomiting but it lasted all day and all night and followed me everywhere.
However, I did notice that talking walks and riding my bike in fresh air helped a lot. I also noticed that eating small portions during the day soothed the nausea while eating big portions only made it worse.
I was really scared of losing the baby, although there was not a particular reason for it. But the period where most miscarriages occur is the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and obviously on the internet, you can find a million stories on miscarriages.
I was nervous each time I went to see my gynecologist, especially in week 7, when the embryo's heart should start beating. I was thrilled when I saw a tiny heart beating on the screen of the ultrasound device. It was amazing because my belly was pretty flat, no one was yet noticing my pregnancy but there was actually a person with a beating heart inside me. There were times when I wanted to yell out, "I'm pregnant!", or when I saw women who were further along, I felt like telling them: "Me too! I'm pregnant too!" It's silly but during pregnancy any kind of craziness is pretty normal I think...
Chorionic Villus Sampling
As I was approaching week 11, I was feeling less scared and pretty confident that I would successfully make it into the second trimester. There were only a few days missing.
At 11 weeks and 5 days, I had another ultrasound done. That was when my bubble of excitement burst and I was left with nothing but worries and sadness.
The gynecologist found a fetal nuchal oedema on the embryo's back and neck. She asked me if I had had any infections lately such as a cold or a flu. I told her no. The gynecologist immediately referred me to a specialist in prenatal diagnostics. I started researching on the internet and found out that such liquids in the embryo's back can be signs of chromosomal anomalies (such as down syndrome), skeletal dysplasias, congenital infections and underlying metabolic and haematological disorders. I was devastated and started to get really scared. I am 29, I live a healthy life, I have never smoked in my life, I don't drink any alcohol, I do regular exercise, I don't even own a car and ride my bike everywhere and I take walks in fresh air three times a day with my dogs... I don't know anyone with a healthier lifestyle than mine.
All around me, women my age and older were getting happy, healthy babies and it was possible that this wouldn't be the case for me.
The specialist told me that the embryo's condition was alarming and that I should consider chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis which are invasive techniques of prenatal diagnostics. The risk of having a miscarriage following chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis is 0.5-1 in 100. The results of chorionic villus sampling are available within a few days while amniocentesis can only be done in week 16 or later and its results take up to three weeks.
The same day I saw the specialist, I made the decision to do chorionic villus sampling. I knew I wouldn't be able to have a disabled child. I admire women who decide to have their baby knowing that it will be born with a disability but I am not willing and not able to take on that challenge.
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I am now in week 12 and the chorionic villus sampling will be done in week 13 which is next week, at the start of my second trimester. I am extremely nervous, not because of the intervention itself but rather because of the results. I was so excited to carry this baby inside me and the thought of me having to decide for an abortion due to a possible disability is devastating.
Nothing is certain yet and I have read of other women who were in my position who had the same diagnosis and gave birth to absolutely healthy babies. I hope this will be the case for me.
I don't believe in God and so I don't believe that God's intention was to teach me something or make me stronger by possibly giving me a sick child. But I believe that we can allow ourselves to learn something from any event in life. Sometimes, it is impossible to explain why things happen in nature. We are biological imperfect beings with a finite life and we cannot yet control natural processes as much as we would like. Miscarriages and embryos with anomalies are just as natural as earthquakes, storms and other natural disasters. When catastrophes happen, they are the beginning of a new time with new chances and new opportunities in life. I believe that life will give me opportunities following what lies ahead of me. If I am carrying a healthy child, I will obviously be overjoyed and thankful that I won't have to continue worrying and suffering. If I am carrying a sick child, I will need to make a very heartbreaking but right decision for my sake and the child's sake.