So yesterday (Tuesday 28th February 2012) I was booked in to have an amnio, I am 35 weeks pregnant.  It was a long time coming, but I hadn’t been able to give it much thought as my emotions were hugely conflicting.  I am not against invasive testing at all (at any stage of the pregnancy… each to their own) but for me personally, I found that it made me just a touch uncomfortable.  I would never have considered an amnio at the normal time (usually around 15-18 weeks pregnant) because of the risk of miscarriage.  No matter how small the risk, there is a risk and I simply couldn’t do it.  The fact that we would never terminate also came in to play and the whole process of weighing up of cost vs. benefit always left me strongly feeling it wasn’t right for us.

My big girl

Ava the best big sister a little girl could have

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, the JR has been super flexible in their approach with me and I can only thank them for talking me through my options, being patient and answering my (often repetitive) questions.  When the late amnio was first mentioned, I logged it in my mind and left it as that.  The pregnancy progressed and the appointment was booked in.  This was my own doing, I was in no way pushed or coerced into making the decision to book the late amnio.  On the run up to the appointment my nerves about the procedure and my reasons for doing it became a bit cloudy.  What’s the point?  I thought.  My baby is loved and what is the difference waiting for the birth vs getting a prenatal diagnosis a mere few weeks from my due date?  I ended up having an impromptu meeting with one of the PND (pre-natal diagnosis) staff members and she was fab… I’m not really sure how much advice she gave me, but I was able to ramble on and tell her all my feelings. She listened and put me at ease.

The thing is, I would really like to give birth and look at the baby and wonder who he/she looks like rather than checking for features of Down’s syndrome.  It would simply be a reflex thing to do, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself – nor would Matt I am sure, and certainly the midwife would want to check closer and so would the pediatrician.  I also don’t want this baby to have to be taken away for blood tests; both Ava and Seren were karyotyped after birth and both times I had to leave the room only to listen to my babies screaming blue murder as their tiny hands were restrained and forcibly bent as canulars were inserted.  I also feel that a prenatal diagnosis would allow me to be more relaxed about giving birth in a birthing centre rather than a hospital (if I go into labour naturally)…. and finally, I want my friends and family to be more interested in the sex, name and the weight of the baby rather than the news of how many chromosomes it has.  Somehow I think this news will have a profound effect on my birth experience.  Don’t get me wrong, we love our baby and the results are irrelevant to us – we are simply manipulating the time in which we receive the news.

So the test iteslf… I went on my own.  Matt fully supported my decision to do the test and I didn’t feel it was enough of an “event” to get him to take time off work.  Strangely, the drive up to the hospital was tough.  I kept wanting to turn around… all of a sudden I didn’t want to know.  I felt as if I was disrespecting my baby in some way, invading its privacy somehow.  It was the most peculiar feeling.  The only think I can liken it to is how I would imagine I would feel if I broke into someones home and started rifling through their personal belongings – its intrusive and wrong.  My baby is safe in my tummy and if he or she is hiding a little secret about its chromosomal make-up, who am I to forcibly access this information before the baby wants me to?  It wasn’t a nice feeling, but I carried on.  I arrived at the JR and went up to PND.  I recognised some of the staff and immediately felt more relaxed.

Interestingly, I was asked if I would speak to a researcher who was taking blood from ladies having amnio’s to help develop a non-invasive test for Down’s syndrome.  I said that I didn’t want to give my blood as I didn’t agree with the development of this test, but the researcher decided to come in and speak to me anyway.  Brave lady.  Long story short, she informed me that the test would identify if a baby had Down’s syndrome with a simple blood test, to help women make their “choices” earlier/easier.  I already know about the development of this test and it horrifies me.  I told the researcher that if I could, I would shut her down.  I told her that I had no intention of aiding the development of a test which aims to cleanse our society of Down’s syndrome… I told her I thought what she was doing was wrong.  I said that if she couldn’t see what this test meant in terms of promoting termination then she was myopic and ignorant.  I hate what society is doing.  I hate what science is doing.  I hate that it all begins with Down’s syndrome.  I feel like Down’s syndrome gets the bum deal out of this – it’s easy for the scientists to identify prenatally so it becomes a starting block… I know there are a few families out there like us who love the children they create unconditionally, but I wonder if this test will condition future generations into the “seek and destroy” ethos that is rapidly emerging.  I for one can see beyond the elimination of Down’s syndrome… what will be next?  Autism? Fetuses that show defective genes for inherited cancers? Multiple sclerosis? Cystic fibrosis? Dyslexia?  Where will it end?  Anyway… I think she went away feeling slightly bewildered at my strong reaction and if she didn’t think her research was a project smacking of modern eugenics, then she certainly does now.

Quickly after this conversation I was taken into the room for the amnio.  The baby was scanned to make sure it was ok and there was a good pocket of fluid and I was tipped backwards.  The needle is long, I can’t lie, and no local anesthetic was administered… I was warned when the needle was going to go in and it was surprisingly not painful at all.  I could feel the needle “popping” through layers – of fat? through skin? through the amniotic sack? I am not sure, but it was weird.  I watched the whole thing on the screen and saw the needle in the pocket of fluid, far away from where the baby was.  Then they extracted the fluid and I could actually feel it sucking inside me.  Again, not painful, just a weird sensation.  Then it was done.  The needle came out and the whole thing must have taken a matter or a couple of minutes or so.  I was sent to rest in the waiting area.  I was cramping a bit, but I was told to expect that.  The scan of the baby had showed up that the baby was breech, so I have been booked in to an ECV clinic to get it turned next week sometime.  Just another procedure to add to this pregnancy! I am sure it will turn itself though – both Ava and Seren flipped and flipped until pretty late into their pregnancies so I hope this one will settle into head down all on its own before the ECV procedure date.

So I drove myself home and took it easy for the rest of the day.  I developed a bit more muscle pain in the afternoon but it just felt like I had strained a muscle more than anything else so I had to move slowly for a while.  I don’t feel anxious about the wait for the results.  After all, I already know what a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome would mean and it neither frightens me nor worries me.  Both Ava and Seren are completely perfect in our eyes so I find I am having conflicting emotions about a positive result and a negative one; with each result I will be a bit happy and with each I will be a bit disappointed… I guess that only goes to show that I truly don’t mind either way.  I haven’t given any thought to “other” things showing up though… I haven’t time to think about all the “what if’s” so I guess I will just have to wait for the call – I am expecting the results today or tomorrow for the intital T21, T18 & T13 checks.  The full results will take a couple of weeks.

Matt is being a typical man about it – I don’t think he is giving the results any headspace at all! He loves this baby and couldn’t care less what the results show.  We are such a tight unit me and Matt, sometimes I marvel at how different we are and yet how we have the same outlook on life… He will argue with me until he is blue in the face if he disagrees with me and yet some things don’t need discussing because we just agree.  I remember years ago having “the talk” with him about what we would do if we found out I was pregnant with a “disabled child” and his response was “we’ll take what we are given”.  We had only been together a matter of months, and although I already knew he was “the one”, this comment pretty much cemented it for me.  I am not sure I could have had a relationship with someone who differed from on this point.  We have been together 9 years this year and have just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  I love my husband more and more as the years go by.

It also helps that we have a supportive family.  Both my parents and my mother-in-law support us and any worry they have for us is kept hidden.  I am sure there must be some, but the last thing we want to hear is negativity and they know that.

I will update as soon as I get the results….