Thursday, May 21, 2009

pregnancy is like a box of chocolates

Last week I had a routine doctor's appointment to check the baby and the progress of my pregnancy.  It was also time for me to have the AFP testing done which is a totally optional blood test that checks for neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities in the baby's development that lead to things like Down's Syndrome or Spina Bifida.  I opted to have the blood test done figuring that it was better to have more information than not enough and hey, it was free so why not? 
When we got the results Sunday evening the doctor told my husband that the hormone levels showed a slightly elevated risk for us having a Down's Syndrome baby.  He explained that we had a couple of options.  One was to do nothing and carry on with the pregnancy as usual with the elevated risk.  Another choice was to get a Level 2 ultrasound done and meet with a genetic counselor to discuss the findings that they see during the scan.  The last option that the doctor gave us was to go ahead and do an amniocentesis which is where they insert a needle to draw out amniotic fluid and give us a 100% answer as to whether or not the baby would have Down's Syndrome. 
The first two options carry no risk to the pregnancy, but the amniocentesis poses a small risk of miscarriage or even minor complications for the pregnancy like bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid.  The doctor also told us that because I had had a previous miscarriage my risk might be slightly higher of a repeat miscarriage. 
Jonathan and I briefly discussed the call (as he was out of town working) and both knew immediately that even if it was going to be a Down's baby we wouldn't terminate the pregnancy.  My gut instinct was also to not do ANYTHING that would put me at risk for a miscarriage.  I figured that if God wanted us to have a special needs child, then that's what we'd have and He would equip us to handle it.
As far as the Level 2 sonogram went, I had never heard of it, but I'm all for getting the most information possible if there's no drawback to that and since this is what the doctor recommended, that is what we decided to do.  Our appointment for the scan was yesterday and honestly, I really wasn't even nervous.  I knew that the risk was very small.  The doctor had said that a normal woman my age would have a 1 in 700something chance of having a baby born with Down's Syndrome but my chance was 1 in 265. 
We had to go to a different office since my regular OBGYN didn't rountinely do Level 2 ultrasounds.  When we got there we had to fill out tons of paperwork and then wait for the genetic counselor.  She finally called us back and we talked with her about our family history in detail and about the results from my bloodwork.  Then she told us a little bit about a normal baby's development and the development of a Down's Syndrome baby.  I actually learned quite a bit and found it all pretty interesting. 
After talking with her I realized just how low a risk I had of having a DS baby and also how low a risk there was of miscarriage from an amniocentesis (0.3% - 0.5%).  I knew the scan would tell us more so I was anxious to get that done.
Then we had to go back to the waiting room and wait for the ultrasound technician.  Did I fail to mentionthat we decided to bring Julianna along for this appointment?  Well, we did.  I wanted to give her a chance to see a "picture of the baby" and if the rest of the pregnancy was normal then I knew this would be the last chance.  Anyway, it was a long, long, long, wait for a 3 year old to hang out in a doctor's office waiting room and idiot that I am, I had forgotten to bring any type of snack or toy for her to help pass the time.  Considering that the appointment was the first one of the day, I had no idea we would be there for 3 hours.  I assumed wrong.
Once we were called back for the Level 2 ultrasound I was so thankful.  It was actually a friend of ours who did the scan which made me very comfortable and because she was getting so much information for the doctor to analyze, it was a very long ultrasound.  We saw every side of the baby and what seemed like from every angle.  We told her that we didn't want to know the sex of the baby and she said she could tell which it was but she did not tell us.  I am excited about having a surprise since I know that this will be my last baby.
Julianna was pretty interested in the screen the whole time (and she took about 30 minutes to do the whole thing).  I think it made the idea of a  baby brother or sister seem a little bit more real to her so that is good.  We also got lots of cute pics of our babe. 
After the u/s tech left the room we waited for the doctor to look over the pictures and then come talk to us.  When she came in the room she didn't even sit down and Jonathan says that's how he knew that there wouldn't be a whole lot for her to say to us.  She told us that everything looked normal - no holes in the heart, normal neck thickness, normal kidneys, etc - and she said the baby seemed to be developing normally.  I had to sign some paperwork saying that I didn't want an amnio after that and then we were good to go.
It was a great appointment despite it taking three hours and I was really proud of my daughter for hanging in there for so long having to be quiet and sit still.  She wasn't perfect, but she did a great job waiting for that long considering the fact that she's only three and hadn't eaten since 7:30 that morning.  We got some really nice clear pictures of the baby and even a couple in 3D and most importantly the reassurance that we will likely have a healthy baby in October.
Yay for babies!


Jerri said...


Whitney said...

Jules is going to have such a fun time being a big sister to Ellie. I can't wait!

Southern Savvy said...

So glad to hear that it's going well!

Emily said...

I've actually heard a lot of people say they've had the tests come back with the possibility of have a baby with DS. None of them terminated their pregnancies thankfully...they all have normal, healthy children.

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