Oh, the weather outside is frightful… If you like that whole “white Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland” bit. Here in So Cal, it’s a delightful 60 degrees and sunny. This sunshine is particularly welcome since for the last five or six days, it has been pouring rain. I used to think I’d love to live in Seattle, but now I’m not so sure. I think with the right rain coat and an umbrella that closes and doesn’t have half of the metal supports sticking out like needles of death ready to take out an eye, I could be fine. It’s my dog who couldn’t cut it. My soggy doggy is a pathetic mess.
In Southern California, when it rains, people go apeshit. They don’t know how to drive, they don’t know how to walk, and all they can talk about is Armageddon (not the movie). I swear, a few drizzles and everyone is convinced that God has broken his promise to Noah and we’re all going to die.
Today, I did my last-minute Christmas shopping (is there any other kind?). I felt cheerful as I passed the bleachers set up for the Rose Parade. I was delighted to discover my local mall virtually empty (I overheard the salespeople griping about it, though) and got my Secret Santa duties out of the way pretty easily. Imagine, me, cheerful and delighted. It didn’t last long.
Odie is hard to buy for. He always wants impractical things like a digital microscope or a glass bottom kayak. Nothing under five hundred dollars, and nothing we can afford. Nothing he would ever actually USE. Damn that Hammacher-Schlemmer catalogue. I did the best I could. We agreed to get each other token gifts and make the holiday about V and her cousins. If this year is anything like last year, he’ll get me something awesome and I’ll feel like a douche when he opens his sweatpants. Hey, the man needs sweatpants.
The biggest gift I could get for Christmas, I already got. It isn’t just the 17 days of vacation I have ahead of me. Although, that is present enough for sure. No, my Christmas miracle is the ultrasound I had on Wednesday. I had an appointment with a perinatologist who is at the top of the field. He practically pioneered the genetic ultrasound, and I’m lucky enough to live just twenty minutes from his office. My appointment was for a first trimester scan, but those in-the-know (a.k.a. the pregnancy community) are well-aware that this is called the NT or nuchal translucency scan. The doctor measures the back of the baby’s neck and you hope for something under 3 millimeters. There is a correlation between a thicker neck and chromosomal abnormalities as well as other developmental problems. My fetus’ neck measured 1.9 mm. The doctor is also looking to see that the placenta has attached to my uterus in a good place. Mine is anterior, and nowhere near my cervix. He checks to see how blood is flowing through the baby’s heart, and mine looks normal. Finally, he looks for the presence of the nasal bone. 60% or so of babies with Down Syndrome or other chromosomal trisomies do not have a nasal bone at the three month ultrasound. So, since 40% of them do have one, it’s not a litmus test for abnormalities. However, only ONE PERCENT of typical fetuses don’t have a nasal bone, so it’s a BIG red flag if it isn’t there. I let out my breath so loud when the doctor said, “Nasal bone is seen,” that the nurse actually laughed.
Everything looks healthy and typical with my little one. It’s a bit on the shrimpy side, but still within normal limits for growth. V has always been in the 95th percentile for height, like Odie is, but I’m certainly not, so there’s no reason to expect all of my offspring will be Amazonian.
Given my “advanced maternal age,” I was nervous as hell about this ultrasound. I used to look forward to ultrasounds, but during my last pregnancy, I went to my appointment all giddy and overjoyed, and the doctor found a problem. Her kidneys were both enlarged. I had to schedule another appointment for seven weeks later. I nervously dreaded that appointment for seven weeks. When that day finally came, I discovered that one kidney was now normal, but the other was worse. I remember leaving the exam room, walking into the waiting room to leave, and bursting into tears. All of the happy chatter in the waiting room ceased instantly. All of the women and their husbands made tight faces and avoided my eyes. They assumed I had just gotten the news they were all here hoping not to get. I wondered if anyone felt encouraged that maybe I’d just lowered their odds of hearing it.
Another seven week wait and another ultrasound. To my extreme relief, her kidneys were normal. But NOW her growth was inadequate. Her abdomen was too small. It was another rollercoaster of elation and fear. The doctor prescribed bedrest and told me he’d see me in three weeks. Great. Another ultrasound to look forward to with trepidation.
Well, it all worked out fine, but I swore that if I ever had another baby, I wouldn’t have all of these stupid tests and get myself back on this rollercoaster of cortisol and adrenaline. Yet, here I am again. All buckled up.
Hey Mrs Odie. Congrats on the pregnancy and happy holidays! Your post really hit home for me. I did the first trimester screening with my daughter, Johanna, and I was one of the false negatives. My risk came back 1:491, and when I pressed my ob/gyn on it (by comparison, my risk for trisomy 18 came back 1:10,000) she said I really didn’t need an amnio since the test was so foolproof. The nuchal fold was normal–I think it was 1.7–but my blood work was a little off. I still felt strangely nervous, and I remember badging the peri during my 18 week ultrasound. She finally turned to me and said, “your daughter is gorgeous, okay! There’s no way she has Down Syndrome” which looking back now seems so offensive to me because my daughter does have Down Syndrome and yes, she is gorgeous (sure, I’m biased, but what mother isn’t!). The funny thing was during my pregnancy I had three close female friends who were also pregnant who had false positives on the first trimester screen–they all ended up having CVS but still freaked out throughout their pregnancies that something was “wrong” with their babies since they had “flunked” the screening. Needless to say, all their little ones were fine and I was the one that had to ride in a baby ambulance with my daughter when she was just a day old so she could have abdominal surgery. I think now most medical centers are doing both the first trimester screen and the second trimester screen, which is much more accurate, but I bypassed all the blood screenings with subsequent pregnancies (I am now pregnant with my third). I figured with my luck I’d end up being a false positive and spend the rest of my pregnancy a nervous wreck even though the baby was fine.
Sorry to go on for so long. I am absolutely sure your little bean is fine. I just had to chime in with my very mixed feelings about the blood tests. The truth is if you do the first and second trimester blood screenings together, then the results are pretty accurate. I guess I just had a bad experience!
Hi Mrs. Odie!
Just wanted to pop by to say, I’ve been here numerous time to ‘check up on you’ – I’ve been following your news – Just haven’t had alot of time to ‘sit and visit’! 🙂
I’m happy to see you’re getting your spunk back! Those first few months of a pregnancy can be so hard on a girl!
I do want to take a minute to wish you, Mr. Odie, Baby V – and your newest bean, the happiest of Christmas Seasons – and a 2011 that’s your best year yet….
Take care – I’ll chat more in 2011 – when I stop by to check on the Odie household!
As crazy as this sounds… I mean I really can’t believe I am saying this…I cannot imagine having fear anymore that any future babies I might have would have a nasal bone missing. A year ago I was experiencing all the scary ultrasounds..smaller nasal bone, swollen kidneys, small femurs, echogenic bowel, possible heart defect…and now, just one year later I am so relieved to say- all it meant was Down syndrome.
My beautiful, perfect, healthy, bright, happy baby girl—has Down syndrome. That’s all! Not scary, not sad, not a cause for grief. She has made my life complete. I mean it with all of my heart- Lily is my greatest joy. And I never would have believed anyone if they would have told me a year ago I’d be saying all that today. But that’s just what a Lily can do.
I hope you DO take your bedrest…and enjoy your growing miracle:)
More than anything, I was worried that when the doctor put that wand on my belly, the screen would show something awful. Not a baby with Down Syndrome, but a baby that had not grown, or that had no heartbeat. I didn’t take folic acid until I was 4 weeks pregnant because I wasn’t planning it, so I’ve been worried about neural tube defects. My fetus measured a week behind at my first ultrasound, so I’ve been terrified that my child will weaken, shrivel, and die. You know, cheerful stuff like that!