So I had a little freak out this week.
It’s easy to forget you’re pregnant in the first trimester because most of the time, I don’t feel any different. Aside from the morning sickness at night, the sore boobs, constantly feeling fatigued and bloated, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that my body is making a human being.
The dating scan I had at 6 weeks was incredible. I had a bit of spotting so my GP had recommended an early ultrasound. I remember feeling the biggest sense of relief that there was a strong heartbeat living within me. We had created that.
At the first OB appointment a month later at 10 weeks, we saw little hands and legs. There again, was the beating heart. By week 11 when I opted to do the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT), the baby had grown another centimetre in under a week and was measuring 4.398cm. It was utterly magical to see that the facial profile had developed.
The NIPT which analyses fetal DNA circulating in maternal blood is a new option in prenatal screening and really demonstrates how far we’ve come with technology. So a few days ago, whilst receiving good news from our NIPT that we were low risk in the most common fetal chromosome anomalies: trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), we also found out the baby’s gender. And then shit got real.
You used to have to wait until the baby’s genitals had developed in week 16+ to identify the gender via ultrasound, but with the NIPT, they’re able to identify the gender much earlier, from week 10. For practical reasons, Zen and I have always wanted to know the gender as soon as possible.
However, after finding out the gender, I suddenly felt immense pressure to be the perfect parent and protect the baby from hurt. How was I supposed to raise a confident, resilient, independent, thoughtful, brave, adventurous and loving child with high self-esteem, if sometimes, I wasn’t that myself?
As someone who is used to having a lot of control in my life, it became overwhelming thinking about all the things that would be out of my control. School bullies, heartbreak, etc.
Zen serendipitously put on Brené Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability and it just clicked. Here’s an excerpt I particularly loved:
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And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They're hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, 'Look at her, she's perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.' That's not our job. Our job is to look and say, 'You know what? You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.' That's our job.Brené Brown
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If we want our children to have courage, compassion, and connection, we must practice these things in our daily lives. If we want them to love and accept who they are, our job is to love and accept who we are.
I’ll leave you with Brené Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto which is simply brilliant.