Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amniocentesis Day

I've had a fair amount of impatience and anxiety leading up to this day.  I'm nearly 19 weeks pregnant and nearly 44 years old. I didn't plan to get pregnant. In fact, I was told I couldn't get pregnant.  But I did get pregnant, and I was taking some medications you don't want to take when you're pregnant, and I was on a serious weight-reduction regimen that might have not been nutritionally optimal for early pregnancy.

And I'm nearly 44. I mentioned that, right?  My eggs are 44 years old, too, and cells that old have a greater likelihood of developing genetic transcription errors during fertilization and cell division. In other words, birth defects.

So what makes all this so difficult is that I need an amniocentesis to determine with greater than 90% accuracy the presence or absence of certain birth defects. And you have to be around 16 weeks for amniocentesis, and the Holidays limited the number of slots available, and it can take 2 weeks for the results. And the longer I carry this baby the more attached to it I become.

I'm also anxious about M being there for the appointment. I don't want to do it alone, and I want him to be there because I hope it will help make the reality of the baby more real for him, as seeing the fetus on the first ultrasound did for me. He's not really engaged yet. I think he's trying not to become attached to it in case we get bad news. At least I hope that's it.

I think of the two of us M is the most nervous and conflicted. I think the responsibility for 3 people on a single income freaks him out a little, as does the concern about birth defects. The age difference between us is also a matter of concern.  I think he's worried if something happened to me he'd be raising a child on his own. As it is, I'm looking at being 65 when this baby would reach 21, and he'd be 56. My grandmother was 45 when she brought my mother home, and I've many friends who were raised by 'older' parents. This is a situation that is becoming more common and accepted as women delay childbearing in favor of establishing careers, and I also know that there is longevity in my family -- It is possible for me live well into my 80s and 90s.

Impending lifestyle change is also a major concern for us both. In his case, he has always wanted children, so the adjustments on his part would have to be made eventually, but for me, well, most of it has never been on my radar. Peace and quiet will no longer reign, and spontaneous trips won't be possible for a long while. Baby-related expenses cutting into discretionary spending. Sleep shortages. Baby-proofing. M's penchant for leaving electronics and whatnot laying around would have to change. Residency and Visa concerns. The baby's citizenship.  The list seems endless.

But back to today... This morning I drove down 101 to Kaiser Permanente's Santa Clara medical center, passing the campus where M worked, and hoping he wouldn't be too late. Just as I passed the exit for his work, he pulled onto the highway, right behind me. I didn't notice, even with him honking and waving at me from behind, so he called my cell phone. I felt such gratitude and relief that he was there, that he had my back, so to speak, that I wanted to cry.

We had a bit of a wait for our room, about 45 minutes, but once we got in, things happened pretty quickly. The ultrasound technician was great. Sweet and professional. She told me every move she was making in advance, so I'd have a moment to prepare myself. The ultrasound equipment was amazing. We got to see 3D images of the baby, inside and out. The halves of the brain, the chambers of the heart. Watched as it swallowed amniotic fluid that traveled down the esophagus. Counted fingers and toes. Saw nice long legs stretched out. And saw the external plumbing. (Yes, it's a boy!)

The perinatologist came in afterwards and reviewed the ultrasound image and video captures. She confirmed that the measurements for the baby were in line with the original due date of May 31, 2012 and that there we no obvious birth defects showing on the ultrasound. (Yes!)

And then they started prepping me for the amniocentesis. M seemed pretty anxious so I invited him to leave and he stepped out. Which made it easier for me to relax. There are times when having a strong connection with your partner is detrimental, and this was one of those times. I'd read up on the procedure, so I knew what to expect, but even so, I twitched when she pushed the needle through the uterine wall. I watched her draw the faintly yellowish fluid out, and then it was over.

I experienced some twinging cramps for about 30 minutes afterwards, and that was all. Minimal discomfort, really, and worth it, every moment of it, for the lab results I'm hoping to get in the next two weeks.

More waiting. I'll be well-distracted though. M's grandmother arrives in three days. She doesn't know about the pregnancy. It would be her first great-grandchild and he doesn't want to take that away from her if the tests come back with bad news, so he's waiting, too.

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