I was going to originally title this post, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Prenatal Testing”, but in the spirit of optimism decided to go with my GOD title.
Suffice it to say, that when I haven’t blogged in awhile, it’s a safe bet to assume that I have had heavy thoughts on my mind. This would be the case since I posted last week.
In a nutshell: my high-risk OB offered me several different options when it came to prenatal testing including non-invasive treatment (NT ultrasound), much more invasive treatment (such as amniocentesis), or the do-nothing at all approach. Let’s just say, I should of went with the last option.
Now, I’ll be the FIRST to sing the praises of the medical community. After all, after 4 consecutive miscarriages attributable to various causes, we turned to the medical community and the option of in vitro fertilization to conceive our first born, Mary Catherine. We have NO REGRETS!!!
But, prenatal testing…that’s a different beast entirely. And truth be told, as much as the scientific community has made in advances in helping infertile men and women overcome their struggles to conceive, there is still SO MUCH we as humans do not understand about the actual workings of conception. Hormone levels included.
So, being 40ish, I felt “pressured” if you will to at least do “something” to check on the well-being of this little life growing inside of me and opted to do the NT ultrasound. It was a lovely experience and baby looked beautiful practicing his/her acrobatics and waving at us from in utero. After the ultrasound, as I was getting dressed, the technician said, “now you know, I need to walk you down to lab to have your blood drown for the NT blood test.” I was shocked and unprepared to respond. The last thing I wanted was blood work…I have heard so many stories about false positive readings and the anxiety it caused, but because I was caught off guard, I blindly followed the tech to lab.
Ten days passed and not a word and I figured all was good. Until.Last.Thursday. I got the dreaded “triple screen phone call.”
Basically, it was explained to Chris and I that my blood work showed elevated hormone levels that point to an increased risk for Down’s Syndrome. Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised. The risk level she gave me for a 40-year old woman is 1:56 births that will be a Trisomy-21 baby; my blood work showed a risk of 1:17. But, if you want to play the numbers game the odds are still in my favor , 94%, that I would have a normal-chromosomal baby. The doctor was very kind and said my NT ultrasound had great measurements (neck measurement was 1.88 mm and needed to be less than 3mm) and the blood work was shocking. She reminded me that this was not a diagnosis, just a risk assessment and that the test carried a high false positive rate.
I researched a ton over the weekend and felt really calm. I truly convinced myself that this was a false-positive response and that the follow-up ultrasound at the perinatologist TOMORROW will be fine. Until I had my 14-week check-up yesterday.
I met with my actual OB (not the on-call doctor that delivered the report) who was nothing but doom and gloom. She truly talked like she knew baby had Down Syndrome. She made one comment that particularly irked me about the heartbeat. After finding it with doppler (which is sometimes difficult at 14 weeks) she said, “well, its a great thing when you can find a heart beat with THESE babies because the longer they have a heartbeat in utero, the greater their chances of survival.”
Needless to say, I was a basket case all day on Monday. The tears started in the parking lot the moment I left her office and I cried ALL DAY…for hours! I can’t even imagine how much cortisol was coursing through my veins, but it couldn’t have been healthy for baby or me!
Incredibly enough, I had signed up for a 3-day parish mission retreat through our Catholic church. Although exhausted from all that crying, I knew I needed to go. Chris kept the kids at home so that I could go and meditate by myself. It was the best choice I could have made. God works in mysterious ways.
The gist of Day 1 was this:
“God made us because God loves stories.” --Elie Wiesel
Basically, our entire lives are made up of a series of stories…stories, that if we choose to believe, are CONNECTED to GOD’s Story for our life. This gives us HOPE which is a cause for CELEBRATION which in turn, TRANSFORMS Our Story into God’s Story for our life.
Obviously, being 40, my life is made up of many different stories, but as I sat and listened to Father Lou, I was thinking about my story of infertility. It has been my cross to bear, yet, if I believe that God is always with me…even during my saddest, lowest, most anxious times, than I see that my story is really GOD’s story for my life. And in the end…my story (or at least this Chapter of my life’s story) ends with triumph over the cross with the birth of Mary Catherine, Benjamin Paul and Baby #3.
And, if as Christians we realize that all that GOD has created is good, than even this little baby, if it in fact has Trisomy-21 or Down’s Syndrome, is the FACE of GOD and will not be a cross to bear, but rather the gift of GRACE to our family.
And that is my story. May God bless you each and every day as you live out your life’s story which, if connected, is God’s Story for your life.