Early on in this pregnancy, at about 13 weeks, I did the regular genetic screening where they take a small sample of my blood and do an ultrasound mainly looking at the thickness of the back of the baby's neck and info from me (like my age). That test came back with the baby having a slightly increased risk of Down's Syndrome. At the time Steve and I had some good conversations together and with one of my doctors and at that point since we knew we wanted this baby and Heavenly Father wanted us to have this baby we didn't feel the need to do any further testing. And we felt peace about that.
June 5 was my more detailed ultrasound. Steve and I both had the sense the tech was looking pretty closely. While most of the baby looked very healthy, including her heart that they watched for a while, she saw 2 things that again are potential markers for Down's Syndrome or other trisomies. The back of the neck (nuchal fold) was still thicker. And in the brain there was a choroid plexus cyst (small pocket of fluid) that is seen more frequently in babies with abnormal chromosomes. I really appreciated the doctor and his advice and point of view and sharing some of his mom's thoughts (he came from a large Catholic family).
That day was overwhelming. On one hand I was happy to be having this little girl that looked healthy and excited to share that with the kids. I wanted that happiness to come through. But at the same time I also felt sad (that I wouldn't have my mom here this time, that this would just be a different experience...) and worried (that there could be health problems, considering all the what-ifs that we didn't know). Steve and I took some time to just sit in the park to think and talk before heading back home. And it was really fun doing the cupcakes and being happy with the rest of the kids.
We were also grateful that day for friends and family. We had decided to wait to tell our kids until we knew more and made more decisions. Steve talked to one of his good friends from his PhD program as well as his parents. That day I talked to my 2 sisters, then the next day to my mom and dad and then my uncle who had a daughter with Trisomy 18 to get their opinions and thoughts and support. Ultimately, our decision was that for us it was best to know now more about our little girl. We wanted to be emotionally and physically ready either way. We wanted to enjoy the pregnancy and have joy at her birth. We were grateful that either way, it did look like she was healthy, she may just come with different characteristics than our other kids.
I never wanted an amniocentesis, but there is a new genetic test they can do. It is called MaterniT21. They drew 2 vials of my blood. They have found that some of the baby's cells break down and pieces of DNA are present in the mother's blood. From that they are able to find a sample of the baby chromosomes and look for trisomy 21 (Down's) and trisomy 13 and 18.
Less than 2 weeks later, the genetic counselor called and told me they had found no evidence of any of the trisomies. It was sort of surreal getting that call. It was good to know more about who this baby was and that she did not have Down's Syndrome. But it wasn't this huge relief or celebration. That few weeks had given us time to think and go through possibilities and blessings and realize that we would all be okay. It was at that point we shared this with our other 3 kids - that we wanted all of them, we loved all of them, they each came to us with different personalities and characteristics - and that was the same with their new sister and why we had done this testing.
The final thing the doctors wanted to double check was her heart. I had a fetal echo just over a week ago and her heart looked great. (And yes I did also have them double check to be sure it was a girl!) For me this has given me a glimpse into more of the experiences and emotions that others may go through. Talking to the genetic counselor was interesting, looking at all the numbers. Mainly for me and this baby, it looks like every little number and measurement just kept being slightly off the norm which kept pointing statistically to a greater chance of Down's Syndrome. In fact, once they had entered all the findings after that ultrasound on June 5, the odds were at 1 in 10. Probably good I didn't actually know that number at the time because it was already an emotional day.
But one of the great blessings that day was a scripture. In the midst of all this I had remembered that a scripture I had read not long before had stood out...so I went searching for it. The first time I read it before all this, in my mind I had been thinking about the exercises and things I was doing for my body to be ready for delivery. But this verse and then the whole chapter meant much more that day.
3 Nephi Chapter 17
This is when Christ visited people in America after His resurrection. He had been teaching them and wanted them to be prepared for the next day. He says:
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and aponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and bprepare your minds for the cmorrow, and I come unto you again.
For me, this meant I needed to do this testing so that I could be prepared for this baby. But I kept reading the chapter. And the rest was just the love and peace I needed that day. I could feel how much the Savior cared for all the people, how much he loved the children. Here are just a few of the verses:
15 And when he had said these words, he himself also aknelt upon the earth; and behold he bprayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
16 And after this manner do they bear record: The aeye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
17 And no atongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
18 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the ajoy of the multitude that they were overcome.
20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And anow behold, my joy is full.
I am grateful that Christ and our Heavenly Father see and understand all that we experience and for the strength I felt from other people as well as from heaven. Now just 3 more months until her birth...