at the time i told him because of my history with pregnancy, i really needed to just get through the first trimester before i could even think about what happens in the second trimester. luckily he understood and told me i didn't need to make any decisions just yet.
as the weeks went by he gave me a couple options and during my 13th week i chose to have the first trimester screening done. this is a non-invasive test where they put together basically a mathematical formula to determine the risk factor of down syndrome in the fetus along with other chromosomal issues* based on age, ultrasound and a blood test.
these tests are not diagnostic but i felt it was important to screen now for anything that would be devastating to the baby's development. as much as i want a baby, jimmy and i don't wish to bring a child into the world who might have a severely compromised quality of life. this is only my opinion and it would need to be something pretty severe for me to make that decision. and let me just state for the record that i do not consider down syndrome as severe as some other chromosomal abnormalities.
before the test, jimmy and i met with a genetic counselor who went over everything they screen for. she asks questions about our backgrounds, ruling out some possibilities based on heritage and recommending certain tests based on other factors, drawing diagrams the entire time. for my age (thirty-fine) it was determined that my risk for having a baby with down's was 1 in 102. since a negative result would show up as 1/300 i was already seen as a positive before any tests were even performed.
this was disturbing to me because there is such a huge assumption made based on age before there are even any tests administered.
sure enough my test for down's came back positive but i was told that i tested as a 36-year-old woman and not a 39-year-old woman, whatever the hell that means, and my risk, although still elevated, was now 1/242. not the magic number of 300, but closer. because my test was positive, amnio was recommended at this point for a clear diagnosis.
my risk was lowered, i am guessing, because there is also a test performed using ultrasound called a nuchal fold or nuchal transparency test where they measure the fluid that accumulates on the back of the developing baby's neck. they also look for a nose bridge and some other things that can give the doctors some information on the possibility of down syndrome.
the doctor who performed our ultrasound made us a nine-minute movie to take home of our baby who performed for us by dancing about, waving, turning and being generally active. the doctor pointed out his/her very strong nose bridge and told us the measurement on the back of the neck measured well within the normal range they look for.
so is all this hoopla really just because of my age?
my anxiety about amnio is the miscarriage factor involved. as someone who has suffered previous miscarriages, i am having a hard time putting myself in the situation where that might be an option. our genetic counselor told us the risk of miscarriage due to amnio is less than half a percent. she then added that the risk of our baby having down's is also less than a half percent. i am more scared of the amnio.
i had a sweet bean reach out to me a couple weeks back who has traveled my same journey and is currently pregnant. she told me that my mantra of, in this moment i am pregnant, really resonated with her because she understood it and she shared with me that when all the crazy fears (false evidence appearing real) set in her mantra is: i choose hope.
in this situation, i choose hope, not amnio. as i look at our growing baby above she/he is perfect to me. i saw this baby dance around during our last ultrasound and i had this overwhelming feeling that everything is fine and all will be okay. i can't imagine not having him/her at this point, i am already so in love.
my question to you is this: those of you who are pregnant, or had children over age 35, did you choose to have amnio? did you have a positive result on a first trimester screening and if so what was the outcome?
please share your stories, i would love to hear them. if you don't feel comfortable commenting with your name, please do so anonymously or email me directly. thank you.
* all my other tests came back negative. yay!