Week Thirteen

Dear Button,

I don’t even know where to start regarding last week. The beginning would be a logical place I suppose and Monday may as well be the beginning because that was the day that everything went pear shaped. That was the day that we had the Nuchal Translucency Scan scheduled.

Actually, we really had the scan scheduled for the Tuesday but having realised over the weekend that I had double booked myself, duh!, Sparky rose to the occasion and found me an earlier appointment on the Monday. So having already had the requisite blood tests, we trotted off to the clinic to have an ultrasound and an assessment.

The ultrasound was pretty cool. It was one of those 3D ones so not only could we see a bigger you this time around but we could also look at a lot more angles. You didn’t seem that impressed with being pushed and shaken about though because you weren’t very active at all. The technician needed to get you to go for a swim so she could measure the fluid in your neck and I had to shake my hips a couple of times and actually get up and jump around before she could get something she could use. But get something she did though and then we had to wait around for the assessment.

Now Sparky and I were expecting this to be a formality. We knew that all the tests and results would be combined and that we would be given a ratio for each of the three big things (Downs, Trisomy 13 and 18) that tend to be known abnormalities at this stage. A lot of our friends had received numbers like 1:20,000 or 1:8,000. We were told that as far as the clinic was concerned, they were not concerned about any number that higher than 1:300. Apparently our results however were outside of the norm. Your neck measurement was 2.4 which was a little higher than their allowed range. In addition to which my PappA and HCG levels in my blood were slightly out of whack. The good thing was that they could clearly see your nasal bone which is often underdeveloped at this stage for a downs foetus. When everything was put together though, the ratio we got for Downs was 1:16 and it scared the pants off us.

Now someone else might be able to look at that number and say you still have about a 94% chance that everything is ok and those are pretty good odds. Sparky and I on the other hand were not quite so sanguine. Both of us know that there are no guarantees in life. We know that even if you were born completely healthy and by all common standards “normal”, you may still at some point fall under the auspices of a “special needs” child. I will admit however that I am somewhat selfish and therefore the thought of parenting such a child has never been part of my, for want of a better word, “plan”. I’m not saying that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it or that I won’t love you just as you are but right then? I personally wasn’t comfortable going forwards blindly worrying that something might not be “right” but not knowing. My first reaction was therefore I want to know, and now. I’m still not quite sure what Sparky’s personal reaction was but his decision was to let me go ahead with whatever I wanted to do and there was a choice.

We could of course have said thank you very much for your time and walked out. We also had the option of getting further tests and they were a CVS or an amniocentesis. For your elucidation, these are roughly as follows:

CVS

  • Entails a needle to the placenta
  • Apparently 99% accurate as does not actually test your personal cells
  • 1:250 chance that the procedure will cause complications/miscarriage
  • Could be done immediately and up to 14 weeks

Amniocentesis

  • Entails a needle to the womb to take amniotic fluid
  • 100% accurate as they are testing your discarded cells
  • 1:400 chance that the procedure will cause complications/miscarriage
  • Can’t be done before 15 weeks

Perhaps because I am impatient or not sure how I would deal with a couple of weeks of uncertainty, we opted for the first option. Immediately. We went from one clinic straight to the next and waited till we could get in to see the doctor. Which was not really a problem except for the fact that I hadn’t peed since before my first ultrasound. After a couple of hours, my bladder was really full and it was not comfortable. I ended up having to let some out and the lady was like ”try peeing for 20 seconds”. My first thought was that if I open the flood gates and pee for 20 seconds it’ll be all over Grover but then I thought maybe she meant a trickle so I tried that for 20 seconds (aren’t you glad I shared) and that seemed to do the trick.

The procedure itself was not really an issue for me. I hate watching needles being poked into me at the best of times and its apparently not much better watching an ultrasound screen than it is watching my own flesh but it actually hurt less than some of the blood tests I’ve had. And the whole thing went off without a hitch which was what we wanted. Then we were just waiting for the results. And the waiting sucked. I’d tear up on the train on the way to work and I’d tear up randomly through the day too. Every time I met someone for work or answered the phone, people would ask as a matter of course “how are you” and I didn’t know how to answer when the last thing I wanted to do was lie. Do I say “I’ll be ok”, “Well I’m still alive”, “Probably better than some so I can’t complain”, “It’s been a rough week but I’ll survive”…? I figured it probably wasn’t a good idea to say “I feel like a steaming pile of turd actually but thanks for asking” so I did feel at a bit of a loss till I got the first results back.

The tests we had done returned the first part to us within 2 days. They checked 5 chromosomes which would return a result on Downs, Trisomy13, Trisomy 18 and the X and Y chromosome. We were a bit of a mess whilst we were waiting for these results but were extremely relieved when they came back all clear. I of course burst into tears afterwards and whilst I was on the phone with Sparky I’m not sure he knew quite what to think (“you cry when you’re upset, you cry when you’re happy, you cry when you’re tired, I can’t keep up!”). The next part of the results we expected the following week. This would tell us if any whole chromosome was missing or even if part of any chromosomes were missing. Apparently though, I was batched with an earlier group by chance and two days after the first results (on Wednesday), we got the final ones (on Friday). All clear. Awesome.

So that was my week. We got some new pictures of you but it could have been better. With all that going on though, I didn’t really notice much in the way of changes or new developments. I think being so stressed I kind of lost my appetite for a while. Which is to say I ate like I used to eat before I was pregnant, not like an insatiable beast that must be appeased. Actually, I’m not that bad when I am eating like a pregnant lady but I definitely did go to eating every couple of hours rather than every hour and a half on the dot. I also just felt drained but that was as much an emotional as a physical thing and perhaps regarding the thoughts around the pregnancy as much as the actual physical pregnancy. I am now looking forward to next week which will hopefully be a bit calmer.

But in case you were wondering about your general development:

You are:

  • About 8.8cm long.
  • Producing insulin in your pancreas.
  • Producing urine in your kidneys.
  • Possessing your own unique fingerprints already.

Oh, and get this, now you also have intestines on the inside of your body. They apparently start developing outside the body, in the umbilical chord, and then sort of…migrate up to their proper home by week thirteen. Biology is weird!

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

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