Washington Redskins long snapper Andrew East and former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson recently opened up about pregnancy complications in an emotional video. After suffering a miscarriage in 2017, the couple have been sharing their recent pregnancy on their YouTube channel. In an update posted Thursday, Johnson revealed her doctor had found two complications at her 20-week ultrasound.
"I felt like someone knocked every ounce of air out of me," Johnson said in the video about the moment she heard her doctor say the ultrasound had been "just OK." "For us, being such naive first-time parents all you do is pray for the health of your baby. That's all you do because you really don't have any control until the baby is here. And just to hear that there could be anything wrong with the baby is just this huge gut check."
East said the doctor then began walking the couple through the complications they'd discovered during the ultrasound. "We'd never really thought about the potential for that or what that might look like," East said.
According to Johnson, the doctor told the couple that their baby's kidneys appeared to be "underdeveloped, but dilated." The former gymnast went on to explain that they were told this was evidence the kidneys were retaining fluid and that while there was a chance it could get worse, it could also potentially correct itself.
"That wasn't the one we were as concerned about because apparently like 25 to 30 percent of babies have this kidney problem," East said.
The couple said their doctor also told them that Johnson appeared to have a two-vessel, or single-artery, umbilical cord. According to The March of Dimes, umbilical cords generally have three blood vessels. While one is a vein that carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, the other two are both arteries that work to carry waste away from the baby and back to the placenta. Johnson said her umbilical cord has only one artery and one vein.
Single-artery umbilical cords happen in roughly 1 percent pregnancies, according to The March of Dimes, which also states that about 20 percent of babies with a single-artery umbilical cord are reported to have health problems such as heart, kidney, or digestion issues.
"There's a lot more risks involved in with a two-vessel cord," Johnson said in her video, adding that it increased the risk of still birth, the baby failing to make it to term, the baby not receiving enough nutrients, or having too much toxins in their body. Johnson said her doctor told them that the combination of the single artery-umbilical cord and the kidney issue could be a marker for Down Syndrome, a genetic chromosome disorder that causes developmental delays.
After taking some time to process the appointment (and cry in their car), Johnson and East said they decided pursue genetic testing at their doctor's recommendation and will increase their doctor visits in order to closely monitor the baby. Johnson also revealed that it was a "rude awakening" to learn that there was nothing she could really do to ensure her baby's health. "We love our baby so much and not being able to do anything for them was the worst feeling in the world. Welcome to parenthood," Johnson said.
On Instagram, Johnson said that although their 20-week ultrasound wasn't the happiest of appointments, she and East wanted to share what the experience had been like for them in hopes of maybe helping others who are pregnant. "We just wanted to share this entire journey and process because of how humbling and how terrifying it is and hopefully our story can help some of you," she said Thursday in a story posted to her official Instagram account.
Johnson also apologized for leaving viewers on a cliff hanger in regards to the additional testing the couple had done, noting that they had "very good news" to share soon. According to Entertainment Tonight, Johnson announced her pregnancy in April, more than a year after she and East suffered a miscarriage with their first pregnancy.