Fertility, Pregnancy, the 20-Week Anatomy Scan, and How to Stop Worrying About Worrying

A few weeks ago, we had Papi Seed III’s anatomy scan. (Papi Seed III is our nickname for our third baby on the way.) We are blessed with incredible health insurance. This is actually a relatively new experience in my life, and I constantly feel grateful for it. I feel so immensely grateful that I have the best OB, that my children have the best pediatrician, and that we get to go to the best place in town for this special 20-week ultrasound and anatomy scan. Now–having this awesome privilege myself–I understand the full extent of the blessing of great health insurance; and, more than ever, I desperately want this privilege for every woman and her children.


This 20-week ultrasound and anatomy scan is a big deal. It is in many ways the last big hurdle that most pregnancies will need to pass to confirm that the baby is developing normally.


It won’t surprise you, then, that the anxiety among Pregnant Mommies is palpable in this particular type of waiting room.


Given that this was our third time, and that Papi Seed III has looked awesome at every step just like his amazing brother and sister, we were pretty chill walking up for our appointment. But, for me, that didn’t last very long. I am someone who has blood pressure as low as 105/59, even during pregnancy; but even my blood pressure was slightly elevated after sitting there amid all of the nerves swirling around in that waiting room. (No biggie, it went right back down as soon as we were taken in for our ultrasound.) But don’t get me wrong: I didn’t mind for one second. I understand and honor what my sisters in that waiting room and everywhere else in the world are going through in a moment like that.


We were so happy to see you through the ultrasound, our beautiful Papi Seed III. We were so excited and grateful to see your beautiful brain and heart activity; to see all of your beautiful organs; and to see your beautiful spine. Like I did with Luxor and Sultana-Bliss, I fell in love with your beautiful heart-shaped nose, which I know I won’t be able to stop kissing. We laughed happily as both doctors independently commented on how big and especially long you are, with long, long legs. (We already knew this because our OB had already told us weeks before that you are our biggest, tallest baby yet.) We were amazed to see that you are already crazy muscular–like, how is that even possible?!! We are so in love with you, Papi Seed III. I burst with love and excitement every time I think about holding and smelling and kissing you just a few months from now. And Daddy keeps telling me: “Don’t worry, things are about to really calm down for us in a few more months.” 😉


Test results are just one of the many things that Pregnant Mamas stress over. In truth, most Pregnant Mommies worry about pretty much everything: whether their baby is okay; whether they might miscarry; whether they will have a healthy pregnancy; how much weight they are gaining; whether their baby is moving enough; whether they are taking good enough care of themselves, their romantic relationship, career, money, and everything else under the sun; whether they are offending their friends, Mother/Mother-in Law, and colleagues; what people think of their changing looks; whether they will give birth too early or too late; whether they can handle giving birth; if they will actually be a good Mom; and how life as they know it is about to change.


They also worry about how all this worrying is affecting their baby.


I love the idea of a pregnancy completely free of any stresses whatsoever. Problem is: As far as I know, it doesn’t exist. (I haven’t ever seen it. If you have, please write to me immediately! I must interview this person.)


When Pregnant Mamas come to me worried about stress, here’s what I tell them: Don’t worry; a moderate amount of stress is actually the best thing for your baby.


This may surprise you, but it’s true. The research shows that both too much *and* too little stress are not great for your baby. (Although if I had to choose between too much and too little, I would choose to0 little every single time.) This is because life in the womb gives your baby clues about what it needs to be successful, both physiologically and psychologically, in life out in the world. What this means is that you want your stress hormones to provide a context in the womb that will teach your baby how to adapt to stress–an inevitable part of life, no matter how privileged, successful, and easy-breezy you are.
The human stress response system is like an alarm system. You want it to be able to go off quickly as needed and then turn off immediately once it is no longer needed. You don’t want it going off constantly. Nor do you want it to never go off. A stress response system that goes off constantly gets thrown out of wack. A stress response system that never goes off may lack the conditioning and agility that it needs to effectively respond to future stressors.


Last week was a super stressful week in my life. If I’m totally honest, I have had moments like last week during each of my three pregnancies, where I lament the fact that my babies have to develop under the conditions of stress that come with being a purpose-driven young professional woman (and a young professional woman of color who is the first in history in her particular context at that). Each time I experience a moment like this, I turn to my meditation, unconditional love of myself and others, and the other practices that ground me. These practices melt my internal stress every time as long as I really let them. I do it for my baby’s sake. I tell myself that I can feel as worried or angry as I need to feel after our baby is born, but not right now. Not while I am growing my baby. I also remind myself that the prenatal environment that my womb provides for my babies prepares them for a life similar to–and, I hope with all my heart–even better than my own.


If life in my womb is giving you, our precious Papi Seed III, any clues about life in the world, I hope that it is teaching you–and your beautiful brain and body and stress response system–that you can be and do anything you want and that you can overcome any obstacle put in front of you.


I love you bigger than the whole wide multiverse,
Your nerdy, big-hearted, big-haired, determined Mommy who will do anything and everything because she loves you that much❥❥❥

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