I said I wasn’t going to let the “advanced maternal age” boogey monster get to me. Well, I lied. I’m only human.
When you’re pregnant, the only news you want to hear is “everything looks great!” Anything less than that becomes an immediate source of endless hours of Googling, sleepless nights and what if’s. Unless you’re the most Zen person on the planet, that is. I’m not that person. I have a new found respect for those women who skip the genetic screening all-together. My experience with it this pregnancy put me on a roller coaster ride that I am just barely getting off of now. I am five months pregnant. That is a long time to wonder if everything is okay.
As I mentioned in a previous article, my experience with my first trimester screen was pretty odd. I’m 39, so I was approached as if I was some sort of dinosaur with dried up eggs attempting to have a child. After I was informed of the hundreds of genetic defects that a child that emerged from my old womb could have, I was offered a series of genetic tests to go along with the routine first trimester NT scan. I had such great results with my last pregnancy, I decided to decline. My last pregnancy was only two years ago so I figured, how much worse off could I be now?
The NT scan results give you the statistical probability that you will have a child with certain types of genetic disorders. I took the test in my last pregnancy and my probabilities were those of a 24-year-old woman – my results came back with a 1 in 1,300 chance. Two years later, my results were 1 in 81. All of a sudden my reproductive system really is 40 years old. Great.
A receptionist from my birthing center called me after she received those results to inform me that they had found some “soft markers” for genetic defects, and I should consider getting an amniocentesis. There was also a new blood test available that has almost the same detection rate as an amnio, without the invasive procedure of actually putting a needle into your uterus. I opted for that. She said she would schedule it. She never called me back.
So I called her back. She was visibly annoyed.
Her: Oh. Did I call you?
Me: No, that’s why I’m calling you.
Her: Oh, I figured you must be returning my call, because why else would you call?
Me: I’m calling because you told me some disturbing news, said you would book an appointment for me, and then never called me back.
Her: Well, I haven’t made the appointment yet – so I’ll call you when I do.
I called the perinatal testing unit and made the appointment myself, which I’m glad I did
because the woman actually never called me back.