Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Best Birthday Present Ever

Today is the big 3 – 5. The dreaded day when I, according to the medical world, become a woman of “advanced maternal age.” Screw that. This morning I ironed my cute little black maternity skirt and black & white maternity top, pulled on my knee high boots, and even put on eyeliner. I look adorable.

D is stuck working late again tonight, so I’ve made plans to go to dinner with some girlfriends. I was determined to make today a good day.

But a little while ago I got a call from the geneticist at the hospital, and she informed me that my baby’s chromosomes are completely normal. And the little one tested negative for spinal bifida. I heard the news and I cried. My make-up may have ran, and I may not look as cute as I did this morning, but it doesn’t matter anymore. I got the one gift I really, really wanted.

It’s a Happy 35th Birthday, indeed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Two-Week Wait

It looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

This is one long rambling post – please forgive me. But here’s my latest saga for those keeping track at home:

On Tuesday I had my 20-week anatomy scan. The one that everyone says is so much fun because you spend tons of time looking at each little part of your bean – the spine, the heart, the brain, the kidneys, the bladder, stomach, each finger and toe, all get their close-ups. The original plan was for D to accompany me to the appointment, so that he could (in my mind, anyway) actually see the little alien growing inside. I was hoping that the ultrasound pics this far along would help him connect some to the pregnancy.

Alas, work became frantic for him and on Monday D told me he couldn’t go with me. This is the trade-off we make by having him work for big-city-law firm. So, to ease my anxiety I called my Mom in Boston and asked her if she’d come along. I thought it would be a great treat for them (if my Dad came too) to actually see their grandchild in the womb. And, g-d bless them, both my parents drove down from Boston Monday night to be with me at the ultrasound.

And the ultrasound was pretty cool, like everyone says. My sonographer was quite nice and would explain what body part she was looking at, and frequently used the words “perfect” and “beautiful.” Eventually my Dad figured out what was the head and what was an arm. The photo shoot took about 20 –25 minutes, and then the doctor came in. Can you hear the scary music playing now?

First he asked if I was going to have an amnio and I said no. Then, he told us that the scan shows “calcification in the heart” which is a marker for Down’s Syndrome. It doesn’t indicate a strong correlation, but that combined with the fact that I’ll be 35 when I deliver ups the odds of chromosomal abnormalities. In short, I should think about having genetic counseling and the amniocentisis.

This was not what I wanted to hear. But, at that moment, I took the news okay. I had a regular check-up appointment with my OB that afternoon, so I could discuss this with her then. My folks and I went to lunch, then to my regular doctor appointment. And here’s what she said:

  • Because I’ll be 35, the odds of a child with Down Syndrome are increased; but, she’d be more concerned if the marker of the heart was combined with some other soft marker – ie. A cyst on the brain – or a bad NT measurement.
  • Normal odds for a mother my age of having a kid with Down’s is 1 in 270. My quad screen blood work came back as 1 in 310. Not a hell of a lot better – but still considered negative by medical standards.
  • In this country one can only terminate a pregnancy before 24 weeks. It takes 2 weeks to get the results back from the amnio.
  • The amnio tells us with 100% accuracy whether or not there are chromosomal abnormalities in the baby.
There is a slight risk of miscarriage with the amnio. But, at the end of the appointment she stressed that I “shouldn’t be afraid of the amnio” and she wrote me up the referral slip so I could have it done, should I choose to.

So, I was left with the decision – have the amnio, with its slight risk of miscarriage and learn for sure one way or another whether or not this baby has Down Syndrome, or just wait until (s)he’s born.

Sure, my mind was racing with a million scenarios, but I felt fine in the doctor’s office. I felt fine as my parents drove me home. But when we parked the car so they could drop me off and we said goodbye as they left for home, I lost it. I cried and blubbered and didn’t know how to console myself. D got home from work around 11pm only to find me crying in bed.

I felt stupid for not having the amnio weeks ago.
Why did there have to be this stupid marker?
If I’d gotten pregnant when I wanted to I wouldn’t be giving birth at 35 and this would be a non-issue.

If I was this upset now, there was no way I could deal with the worry and the not-knowing for another 20 weeks. I decided to have the amnio.

On Wednesday morning I called to schedule it and was told that the next opening was 9/21 – my 35th Birthday. But there was no way I could wait another week for this test. As I started explaining that to the lady on the phone, I started crying. Again. And that’s pretty much how it went all day. She took pity on me I think and said she had someone else in my position and would work to squeeze me in. Later that afternoon I got an appointment for Thursday morning.

I made it to work on Wednesday, and when my assistant and then later my boss both asked me how the doctor’s appointment went, I started crying again. Crying at work in front of others is the worst.

On the other hand, everyone was quite nice to me – and when they learned that I had scheduled the amnio for Thursday morning and that, once again, D couldn’t come with me everyone offered to go along with me. I took my friend up on the offer and Thursday morning we met at the hospital. She came with me as I met with the genetics counselor and relayed my and D’s family history. And she came with me while the amnio was done.

I have to say, the meeting with the genetic counselor really put me at ease. I wish I had met with her (or someone) back in the beginning. If you’re going to be over 35 when you deliver, I highly recommend it. She came right out and said that if I were 34 we wouldn’t be having the conversation; that the marker may or may not increase the odds of Down Syndrome; that the odds of miscarriage from the amnio are miniscule – particularly at the hospital where I was having it done. And then it was time for the procedure.

For an IVF veteran, having an amnio is no big deal. I firmly believe that once you’ve had a needle puncture you’re vaginal wall to extract eggs from your ovaries – you can handle any physical pain. The amnio needle seemed to be like a plain ole sub-q shot. The doctor swiftly injected it about 2” below my navel – and you can see it all on screen via ultrasound. It looked for a second like the needle was way close to the baby, but really that was only because I couldn’t visualize the depth – I’m sure the needle was way on top and the baby many inches below. I think he filled about 3 vials (I was surprised that they needed so much) and then he withdrew the needle. It feels like I’ve got a nice bruise there now – just like what happens from Repronex – but otherwise I’m fine. IM shots are WAY worse.

So now I wait for results. Everyone yesterday gave a different time frame – something between 8 – 14 days. I find myself, however, assuming that all will be fine. Results will show that my little one has 23 perfectly paired chromosomes. 46 total – no more, no less. And I’ll be able to relax for the rest of this pregnancy.

Yeah right.

    Friday, September 08, 2006


    I’m so sorry for not posting frequently. Something’s happened to my motivation and I’m not sure what it is. Don’t worry though – so far all is well. And here are the answers to what you’ve probably been wondering.

    How far along are you? When are you due again?

    Today I’m officially 19 weeks 4 days into my pregnancy. The estimated day of arrival is January, 29, 2007 – but I’m counting on a February baby.

    How do you feel?

    Knock on wood, I’m doing okay physically. The nausea left as it was supposed to and I think my energy level is fine. For the last 4 weeks I’ve been doing prenatal yoga twice a week, so I overall I feel good.

    Do you look pregnant? How much weight have you gained? In maternity clothes?

    These questions seem to be the favorite of my family – probably because I was pretty petite to start off. But yeah, I’m in maternity clothes and have a belly. Most people meeting me would probably be playing “Pregnant or pudgy?” upon looking at me – if I’m not wearing a maternity top, but for those that knew me it’s pretty obvious. Two weeks ago D said to me as I was getting ready for bed “Your stomach is huge” - and that was just at 18 weeks. I’ve gained about 10 pounds – or 10% of my body weight.

    Do you know the sex?

    Well, the big 20 week-anatomy scan is next week so if I wanted to find out the sex we could on Tuesday. But, I don’t want to. At least, that’s what I’m saying now; I reserve the right to change my mind when I’m actually undergoing the ultrasound.

    What tests have you done?

    Besides the nuchal translucency, I had blood drawn for the quad-screen test at 16 weeks. Fortunately, the results came back negative so I was not advised nor felt the need to do an amnio. Hopefully everything will look perfect at the big ole ultrasound next week.

    Have you felt the baby move?

    Ummm – maybe? Last Saturday night for an instant I swear I felt that “fluttering” that everyone speaks of – but mostly I just feel this constant heaviness in my abdomen. And, I don’t know if this makes me crazy or not, but since just shy of 17 weeks I swear I feel contractions consistently. They don’t hurt – it’s just this tightening of my uterus that lasts for maybe a minute. I made D put his hand on my stomach during one and he could definitely feel the hardness of it. I don’t understand how every woman doesn’t feel these?

    How is D? How are you and D?

    I have to say, lately me and D have been great together. No silly bickering or fighting – just niceness and love. It’s really been splendid. I think subconsciously we must realize that this life together as just a couple is about to end, so we’re trying to make sure we appreciate it while we can.

    D himself is doing much better over all, which obviously has a big effect. His work schedule hasn’t been crazy so that automatically puts him into a better mood. He’s dealing with the Celiac stuff – still kind of a baby about it at times if you ask me, but he’s got a routine down now. And he’s exercising again, which also greatly impacts his mood.

    As far as D and impending fatherhood, well, let’s just say I think half of him is in denial and the other half is scared of it all. I’m pretty sure he’s frightened of my pregnant belly. The idea of an infant throwing up or pooping all over him gives him the heebie jeebies. At this point, he still says he’d prefer not to be in the delivery room. But, while I might prefer he be more involved and invested, I do believe that once the baby is born everything will change.

    How about those Red Sox?

    Oy! My poor boys of summer. All I can say is, I hope the MF Yankees don’t make it past the first round.

    I think of you guys often, even if I can’t get myself to sit down and write. Hoping things are good out there in your corner. And if I didn’t answer what you really want to know, post the question and I’ll add a response.