Monday, September 2, 2013

Fear And Las Vegas

I never felt thirty-five qualified as old. Sure, I wasn't in my twenties any more, but I was hardly over the hill. In fact most people believe their 30's are the best years of their lives and I am inclined to agree. Confident in my growth as an adult, out of that I'll-do-anything-for-attention mentality of my 20's and secure in the fact that I am responsible but still able to have a good time, my thirties are pretty great.

Until I got pregnant. Now suddenly I'm a geriatric.

Due to my advanced age and the fact that I will be *gasp* thirty-six when I give birth, it is the policy of my doctor's office to have me visit a high risk pregnancy center. My doctor assured me there was nothing wrong with me, and probably nothing wrong with our baby, but they have to draw the line of "too old" somewhere and thirty-five happens to be it. With that age comes a slight increase in chromosomal deficiencies and other genetic defects that may be possible in a growing fetus. I wasn't too keen on having to go to a place other than my OB and have then purposefully look for things wrong with my pregnancy, but since it was my understanding they would be using a high quality ultrasound, we were sure to get some great pictures of the baby. I tried to focus on that and not the fact they may find a baby with three heads. The center had called right before we were going to Canada and wanted to schedule an appointment for when we would be gone. I explained we would be out of town and they informed me I would have to wait until I was in my second trimester before I could come in then. I made the appointment for the end of August, three weeks after we got back from our trip.

When we arrived at the center I was shocked that I appeared to be the only one who wasn't visibly showing. The waiting room seemed to be filled with women ready to pop. I almost felt like I had to stand on a chair and announce "No really, I AM pregnant!" just to prove I had a right to be there amongst all the bulging bellies. Because let's face it, we all do some sizing up when someone walks into a doctor's office and then try to figure out why they had to come in. Well, in this instance we all knew why we were there but by the looks I was getting some of the women believed I must not be as risky as they were in the level of riskiness in the high risk pregnancy office.

First we had to sit down with a genetics counselor and go over our family histories. After extensive questioning and a highly complicated family tree diagram drawn by the counselor, she announced, somewhat dejectedly, that we had no generic defects anywhere in our history and thus the risk of a birth defect happening was very very low. Yes! First hurdle cleared! I tried not to think about the fact that this woman seemed put out by our hearty healthy family tree and her lack of further drawings to prove how deformed our baby was going to turn out. But she brightened when she flipped a few pages and declared my real problem is going to be my *gasp* AGE!

Suddenly this chipper, diagram-drawing lover of all things unnatural was going to try to "warn" me of all the dangers I faced by getting knocked up so late in life. I felt like screaming at her, hey, not our fault my eggs wouldn't cooperate last year so I didn't have to deal with you people! If I were to have given birth last October 28th, I wouldn't have had to go through all this. A matter of months separated me from a peaceful, non-freak out pregnancy.

Ms. Diagram started babbling about chromosomes and how many things can go wrong with them. She had charts and drawings and more diagrams of all the issues our baby could face if those silly little strands of DNA decided to not separate correctly. Basically it was her job to scare us half to death. Then she proceeded to inform me of all the extra testing I could get to find out if anything were wrong with our baby. Extra testing that of course, is in early stages and not covered by insurance. After awhile it seemed like she was selling these tests for statistical reasons rather than my good health. But we were not deterred. We calmly informed her that this baby is coming whether we want ti to or not. Knowing it may have Down's Syndrome or another more serious issue isn't going to make us not want the baby. And having that knowledge ahead of time isn't going to change the fact the baby is going to come. Why freak out about it and threaten my pregnancy with more stress? She didn't seem to like the fact that we said we would love the baby whether it came with six toes or ten.

After meeting with Ms. Dreaded Diagrams it was time for the ultrasound. I was excited to see the baby in greater detail and thrilled to see a monitor right over the bed so I could watch in awe. We even had Charming's mom with us because it would be the perfect time for her to see some great shots of the bambino. Imagine our surprise that the ultrasound machine appeared crappier than the one at my doctor's! It was hard to tell anything. Granted, we caught the little bugger sleeping (it was 10:30 AM and I'm sure this kid is on my schedule and I would have normally been sleeping at that time) and so it was all curled up in the fetal position (ha!) so things were kinda scrunched together. However, the tech was still able to get measurements of the baby, limbs, heart chambers, brain hemispheres, etc. and said everything looked good to her. But she was pressing so hard and eventually shaking my belly pretty violently saying "come on baby, wake up" trying to get the baby to move. I started to feel a bit perturbed at how rough and rude she was being to our child. We did get a nice profile shot and a pretty terrific view of the baby yawning and scratching it's head. But no good pictures. It was a complete letdown.

The tech left and said the doctor would be in to check things over. When she came bustling in she first said my blood tests looked great and then began to push on my belly again. After some huffing and puffing she had me sit up and told me that the baby was too small for her to get accurate pictures and I needed to come back in four weeks.

Excuse me?  Remember, these people wanted me to come in four weeks earlier. The baby would have been even smaller then and now they are saying it's still too small? I started to get a bit ticked off by smiled tightly and said okay, I guess we have to come back. The doctor then proceeded to go over my blood tests she said were "great" by telling me my chances for Down's went way down, the other abnormalities did not increase and did I want to schedule the second intensive blood panel that was not covered by insurance now?

Excuse me again? I looked at Charming with a "can you believe this chick" expression and turned back to the doctor to say, I think we will wait until the next ultrasound before we decide on more testing. I then said our spiel about the baby coming no matter what may be wrong and knowing ahead of time, as long as neither of our lives are in danger, isn't going to change anything. She seemed put out we didn't fall into her "more tests!" scheme and sent us on our way. She didn't seem to care that up until that point I had been okay and now she had freaked me out enough to wonder if something could be wrong. Charming assured me they seemed to be trying to find something and failing and that is where the problem lay with them. They wanted to find an issue and our baby was just so awesome, it continued to be the bucker of all their crazy, deformed dreams.

I am seeing my doctor the week before this appointment and I'm hoping he sees their incessant need for more tests as unnecessary as we do since everything we have done so far has shown there are no problems and perhaps we won't have to go back to this cold and impersonal place. For a center that supposedly specializes in woman who need sensitive care bringing their babies into the world they sure do need to brush up on their bed side manners.

Or at least get more fun diagrams. With color. And maybe some hand puppets.

4 Sprinkles:

EmilyB said...

We have declined all extra testing so far, for those very reasons. We've only done the regular testing that all pregnant women have. None of those tests are 100% accurate anyway and I don't need added stress! I would say, skip going back even if your doctor is trying to make you. They can't force you to go. If those preliminary tests looked good, that'd be good enough for me. :) Hope you are feeling well!

Anonymous said...

Jeez! I'm glad you seem to be rising above it.

pogonip said...

I'm sure enjoying your journey. Not that some of the scare-mongers you've met should be enjoyable but your calm, down-to-earth reactions are wonderful.

Waiting for the next installment!

Lynda said...

If your doctor feels that you need a center like this, tell him to refer you to a new one.

I had to do that years ago with my back, when my doctor sent me to a quack.