Up until this point my pregnancy with Big M had been perfectly normal. We were already going to get baby checked out for heart defects because of family history. The provider emphasized that the specialist would want the blood screening done and we would have to get it done sooner or later.
Believing that the test was necessary we opted for sooner. At the next appointment our lives changed. We got the news that our baby had tested positive for Down Syndrome. Since we were already going to the specialist nothing else could be done. The agonizing wait began. I went into crisis mode and contacted our medical clinic to figure out what it would mean for us with them. The support from them was amazing.
Finally the day of our appointment came. We drove the two hours to the doctor afraid of what answers we would receive. Did our baby have a heart defect? Did he have severe Down Syndrome? What was going to happen?
In the appointment we had another ultrasound that was more detailed than previous ones. The specialist himself conducted our ultrasound. Then came the fateful words. Big M had a normal heart and no defects. A sigh of relief. Big M had no soft markers for Down Syndrome. Another huge sigh of relief.
Then came the warning. Big M could still have mild Down Syndrome and the only way to rule that possibility out was to get an amniocentesis. Being the informed parents we were, we asked what the odds looked like. It was then revealed to us that Big M never had tested “positive” for Down Syndrome. All that had happened were the numbers checked on the test came back high for my age and stage in pregnancy. This ultrasound did not show anything which significantly dropped those numbers in our favor. In fact, the chances of something going wrong during the amniocentesis were higher than the chances of Big M having any form of Down Syndrome. Needless to say we declined the amniocentesis.
What these results did mean for us was that I was at a higher risk of going into preterm labor and delivery. That wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. All I had to do was have weekly appointments starting in my third trimester and alternating non stress tests and ultrasounds.
Compared to what we had been prepared for this was easy peasy. If you don’t take anything away from this story I hope that you remember, next time you are pregnant and facing this choice, that the quad screen blood draw just gives a statistic. It does not tell you a yes or no for anything. You can decline the test as well. Don’t feel bullied into getting any optional testing done that you don’t want done.