Just what every expectant mother wants to hear–Congratulations on your pregnancy, but you’re 35 so your eggs could be expiring– what!?! Let’s face it, common assumptions are that after 35 the risk for Down’s Syndrome and other congenital diseases/defects are doubled or tripled. The truth is that in any pregnancy, these problems can occur and it’s a fairly gradual increase. It’s lower at 20 than 21, and at 21, than 22 but at 34 it’s 0.002%, at 35 it’s 0.0026% still pretty low. But isn’t that what we all immediately think? The media has tricked us into believing that all pregnancies over 35 are automatically at extremely high risk, and that’s not the case. My doctor was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, left it completely up to us, but indicated that she wasn’t worried with our health histories that we would be at risk. She was the one that told me that there wasn’t a drastic increase at 35 and that most people just took what God gave them. Upon further reading in a book (written by a doctor) I got during my first pregnancy AGES ago, things like club foot and cleft palate are actually more common defects. I was really shocked. Those type of issues had never once occurred to me. Yet they are MORE common. Go figure. Since I was over 35 when I got pregnant this time, we thought and prayed and thought and prayed for an entire month. I asked friends who had conceived and had the test after age 35 about it. My husband and I talked about the pros and cons of the test, and after reading the brochure we decided to go for the safe and relatively pain free test. This was the first such test we had EVER done, we never even found out baby’s sex ahead of time before. Ultrasounds are basically just gorgeous living pictures for us. 🙂
Here’s how it works:
The procedure: As with all medical issues, you should discuss them with your doctor, pediatrician, etc. and not rely on the internet for medical advice.
It involved a simple blood draw from the mother’s arm–since baby blood cells are mixing with mom’s blood cells, the 2 can be separated and studied. Dad also got a cheek swab. After 10-14 business days, you should receive a call from your doctor’s office. That’s it.
What it told me and what it CAN tell you:
It screens for major chromosomal disorders. Because someone is getting and up close and personal look at, well, DNA, baby’s sex can also be determined by this test if so desired– but that is not the reason for the test. Just an added bonus if you so choose. For me, it took 12 days. Mine just happened to come on my BIRTHDAY while my parents were here with us, and my husband had come home early. To get the ‘all clear’ on that day was pretty special-I was turning 36. Obviously, no test is 100% accurate, but it’s pretty close.
How waiting felt:
I’ll be honest, the waiting did NOT feel good, particularly because we had a holiday weekend in there, too. I’m a worrier by nature. I was completely paranoid during my last pregnancy. Anyone who coughed, scratched or looked at my kids funny drove me insane. I stayed home a LOT in the fall before baby was born because I just couldn’t deal with the idea of germs. I knew it was insane, but literally could feel the weird creeping into my brain. I chose mental health over a couple of activities, and I was okay with that. I’m doing much better this time around, but I still had to not let the worry creep in– I mean, let’s face it, genetic things are set at conception. Worrying wasn’t doing me ANY good, and once I came to that conclusion, I settled down for the most part and did the whole ‘have faith’ and chill thing. As days 1-7 rolled along without much issue, I was pretty thrilled with my level of cool. Weekends are always insanely busy. Then there was a family graduation and telling family we were pregnant, so that was distraction enough. When I got to day 11 I was needing major distraction, I had been just certain I’d get the call on day 10, so I put out a request on my blog FB page and got a few laughable comments to get me through the day. The next day was my birthday and that just naturally distracted me. I had family coming and my kids had completely forgotten it WAS my birthday, even reminding them that we had family coming went over their adorable little heads. Then the phone call came and my blood froze in my veins, even as my heart sped up and my face got hot.
The office nurse called and started talking about finding out the sex or not. I skipped past all that and said we could find out later if we wanted, but wanted to hear the results. I guess I should have realized that everything was okay when she didn’t mention it first. At any rate, she told us we had nothing to worry about, mentioned the accuracy rate, and chatted about a couple of other things, while I sat on the edge of my bed in stunned silence. I had been mentally bracing myself for a shock. I was more shocked than I realized that my results were positive. I shakily told my husband and he had to go to an appointment. I went back to my family and continued to celebrate.
On a follow up visit, I was told that another vial of blood was requested to check for neural tube defects, spina bifida, etc. I don’t have those results as of yet, but even though I wasn’t taking my vitamins regularly, I get all my Folic acid from bread products, and I was eating a sandwich and or toast with eggs or cereal for breakfast, so I was taking in plenty-I think. It’s not something to write off, but it’s not something we hear as much about, either, is it? God has blessed us immensely so far and I continue to have faith that we will be blessed. If not, then you’re likely to hear about it.
Since my results were ‘low risk’ or ‘good news’ or what have you, I can’t give anyone who has gotten other results any advice. My goal with this post was to give anyone searching for information an idea of what the test really entailed and how you got results, a personal story so to speak. Please, please only do what works for you, what is necessary, and what you have discussed with your doctor. I am not a professional, just your average mom blogger who wants to reach out to those that are considering the test or waiting to hear back and feeling nervous.