Yesterday, we finally got the results of the nuchal translucency screening that I had done almost three weeks ago. This is the ultrasound/blood test that is done three weeks before amniocentesis so you have some idea of what to expect and/or test for a few weeks before you can actually do an amniocentesis. Basically, it's an early screening so you can start to make decisions almost a month earlier in the pregnancy. Please note that yesterday was also the date of my amniocentesis. (Note to self: next time a doctor says 'we should have the results back in a week', place heavy emphasis in your own mind on the word should and remind yourself that it's a good thing that your decision to continue the pregnancy would not change whatever the results of the screening may be.)

The phone rang yesterday mid-day as I was dressing The Dormouse to go to a friend's house where I was going to stash her for my doctor appointment. The nurse from my perinatologist's office was on the other line: "I just wanted to let you know that your test results are all within normal limits."

Me: "Well, that's good news."

Nurse: "Do you have any questions about the results?"

Me: "Well, yes, but I suppose I can ask them two hours from now when I'm in your office for my appointment, right?"

Nurse: "Yeah, that'd probably be the easiest thing."

According to my doctor, my risk of having a child with any trisomy is now something closer to 1 in 300. (That's down from the odds of 1 in 8 that they gave me based on my age and medical history before the results of the NT screening.) The Risk of Down's Syndrome is now something closer to 1 in 1000. (Adjusted from 1 in 30, before the screening.)

Of course the NT screening doesn't do squat to detect the tripliody that my first daughter had, so while it's nice to know my 'chances', we wait to breathe easier until the results of the amnio come in. That "should be about seven to ten days" (translation: you'll be waiting three weeks if you wait a day).

Aside: For those who care and are unfamiliar with the Wonderful World of Chromosome Disorders, trisomies (of which Down's Syndrome is one) are disorders in which there's one extra chromosome because a chromosome splits improperly during early development. Triploidy, tetraploidy, pentaploidy, etc., are when there are whole extra sets of chromosomes present.

What's amazing about all this is that they have it all down to probabilities that this doctor has memorized and ready for retrieval at the tip of his tongue... like an announcer for a poker match. While he was talking to us, reciting off probabilities and ratios, I kept hearing in my head Dave Foley's voice narrating from the Loser's Lounge on Celebrity Poker Showdown. "Now, it looks like she's starting out with pocket aces, Phil Gordon, do you think she should go all in?" "Well, Dave, if she draws another ace on the Turn, her probability of beating Judy Greer's two Jacks goes up to 1 in 20. But after that if Judy pulls one of those jacks that we haven't seen in the Showdown so far on the River, then she's looking at 75% for winning this hand."

The physical procedure of the amniocentesis is ultimately no big deal - especially if you've had two previous cesarean sections and no longer have any nerves attached in your abdomen. But I'd forgotten that I can still feel pain in the inner muscles surrounding my uterus, so I started out watching the needle insertion in my belly all
blasé thinking wow - I can't even feel that - no big deal and then was suddenly all whoa - hey there's a giant needle sticking me.

Ultimately, the procedure went well and then I tromped into another room to be stuck with needles two or three more times just for good measure. The highlight of that part was when the doctor stood over my right shoulder yammering on while the nurse prepared to give me a rhoGAM shot in my left arm (because if I haven't already complicated the process enough, I'm also rH- and have to have a series of immune globulin inoculations in order to keep my blood cells from attacking my possibly rH+ baby) . Suddenly, he abruptly stopped talking and looked at the nurse, who was patiently waiting for him to finish his speech and said, "You know, I'm standing here talking to her to provide a distraction while you give her the shot, so maybe you want to stick her now?"

I don't really have an end to this post. I just, for the first time in fifteen weeks, feel like talking about it. Maybe because I'm encouraged by the results of the screening, maybe because I'm still worried... who knows? I'm just constantly reminded as we go through this process once again, what a miracle it is to have a healthy baby - or even a baby with relatively minor problems. With a million and one things that could go wrong, it's incredible to me that they don't more often and that more women don't really concern themselves with the stuff I think about every day. Sometimes, I get irritated with women who pop out kids like a healthy child is their right and due, never concerned that anything could be wrong, because they don't have any concept that it might. Women who are more concerned with the gender, the eye color, or whether the baby's birth date turns out to be this month or the next because they don't care for the current gemstone. I know it's stupid of me. If there are women out there who don't feel the need to worry about things like chromosomes and screenings, more power to them. I really do wish them a care-less world. In fact, I generally don't discuss my experiences with other moms and moms-to-be because I think most people have enough to obsess over. But what I pick up on sometimes is a general lack of respect for what an amazing gift it is to have a child and how incredibly grateful we should be when everything does go right. I got lucky once - I have a sweet, bright, vibrant little girl to watch grow up and see who she's going to be - and I'm now pressing that luck again. I just hope that I haven't pressed too hard. Phil Gordon would be so proud.