Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Four months down, five to go

Today is my 16 week prenatal appointment, one that my practitioners have told me to come mentally prepared for because it involves a lot of unpleasantness.

Oddly enough, I'm still excited to go. It has been four weeks since the last appointment where Jerry and I got to hear our baby's fetal heartbeat for the first time and I am in dire need of hearing it again -- if nothing else than to reassure me that it's still beating. And even a few seconds of that is worth any poking and prodding.

We've been told that one of the blood tests I'm being offered is optional because of the controversy surrounding it. It looks for the presence of alpha-fetoproteins in my blood, which can detect any number of chromosomal abnormalities such as spina bifida and Downs syndrome.

The catch, according to my online research, is that the test often leads to false positives. In fact, out of every 1,000 women who take it, about 50 end up positive for abnormalities. Of those 50, only one or two babies will actually have a problem.

Plus, even if the blood work comes back negative, it doesn't completely rule out the possibility of an abnormality. It only determines that your chances are not as high.

Jerry and I have spoke long and hard about whether we should have this testing done. After all, our age doesn't place us in the high-risk category and neither one of us needs an extra reason to worry. We're already doing just fine in that department. But our doctors recommend it. They gave us an information sheet explaining that it helps give them a "more complete picture of the health of the pregnancy." The other side of the sheet was a waiver form. We signed it.

I guess, for me, it comes down to this: If the test helps them provide better care for me and our child, it's worth it. A positive may lead to yet another blood test and maybe an ultrasound on higher resolution equipment to study our child's facial features and spine, all of which I'm completely comfortable in doing.

I've already decided, however, that I will draw the line at having an amniocentesis done. That is where they would stick a very long needle in through my belly button, pierce the amniotic sac and extract some of the fluid surrounding the baby. It contains all sorts of vital information and could definitively diagnose or rule out a problem.

It's not even the pain that I'm worried about, although I'm sure it hurts to no end. It carries a 1 to 2 percent chance of miscarriage. And I'd never be able to live with myself if something happened because of an optional test.

At this appointment, I also get to drink a thick, syrupy liquid to test whether I am developing gestational diabetes. I've been told it tastes disgusting, so all night I dreamt that someone should invent a way to turn that test into an ice cream flavor. Then maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

I also have a slew of questions to ask the doctor. Whether I can help paint our porch. Whether we should fly or drive to Nebraska at the end of August. And whether all the weird abdominal sensations I'm feeling really is the baby moving. I guess I just want confirmation from an expert.

Plus, after all the tests are done, I know we're one step closer to our next appointment where we get a lengthy look at our baby via ultrasound. I know it's changed significantly from the stationary lightning bug with arm buds and a tail at week 8, and I can't wait to see the development that my body has fostered.

And, as Jerry puts it, we'll have the "ding dong test." Hopefully, if our bug cooperates, we'll be able to see whether it's a boy or a girl.

Three eternally long weeks and counting ...


Wallaby75 said...

For the glucose tolerance test, try taking along your favourite brand of sugar free gum. Trust me, it works! Good luck with all the tests.

aahcoffee said...

Good luck!

I wrote up a bunch of advice and "what I did" stuff, and then deleted it. Nothing quite like unsolicited advice from strangers. :)

Tiger Babble said...

I think it's great that you decided not to go with the amniocentesis. I didn't have one either, but not for the same reasons you mentioned.

Time will fly by so quickly. Before you know it, your tummy will be huge and the baby will be kicking so hard, you won't even remember what it was like to not be pregnant. At leasts that's how it's been for me!

the ranting plainsman said...

Seems like you and Jerry are picking your way carefully and smartly though what at times must seem like a minefield of decisions. You two are making great parents! I repeat: You two are making great parents!

With all that is paid for medicine, it seesm like they could add in some natural flavorings that would made the "drink" more palatable instead of adhereing to that tired, outmoded and ignorant medical notion that to be safe, all medicine must taste bad.

The same goes for the meds that vets give in different doses to pets. To see a pet refuse foul tasting meds that for a buck more could be coated with the same flavors that are on pet treats is disheartening, especially when that animal might eventually die. (Yes, there are "tricks," but they are not always reliable, either)

But hey, if they do not give a care about a helpless pet, why would they care about making medicine a bit more tolerable for us human types?

(Sorry 'bout the rant, should have posted it on my site.)

Chelsea said...

I wouldn't be able to take that test if there was the slightest chance something like that could happen.

This is a really stupid question, but can you feel the growth of the baby, liek your actual stomach being weighed down kinda?

Candi said...

The liquid actually usually isn't that bad, unless your doctor doesn't order the flavored kind. It tastes like flat soda, really, just a little extra syruppy.

sweetheartmj97 said...

I had my gestational diabetes test today actually. I got to drink 10 oz of overly sweet orange soda flavored stuff. In 5 minutes. Then I got to sit for an hour, then I got to give blood. My test came back normal. But I've had a mild headache since then.
Good luck with yours! BTW...my DR also had Cola flavored.

Randall said...

Sounds exciting to me too! Hope all goes well :o)

Janice said...

Wow, a lot of that sounds kind of scary...especially the test with the needle. I don't think I could ever bring myself to do it. One, because needles and I don't get along and two because of the reason you declined it. Pregnancy is a scary thing, but keep your head up so the time goes fast!

Anonymous said...

kelly, do not worry at all abt the mother serum screening test(the test to check the high risk thingy for dwon syndrome...)i just did mine last week.....and they havent called me in three days after which means i am not in high risk category.dont worry,everything is gonna be fine.....:)
waiting with abaited breath of ur results on whether its boy or girl....u r revealing that to us rt???????????;-)

Ray said...

Well, I hope your appointment wasn't as bad as they say & I hope everything went okay. Can't wait to find out the sex. And I agree if I was pregnant I'd never do an amniocentesis, can't that hurt the baby?! People that do that are CRAZY, not to mention cruel and selfish.

Take care, Kelly.