Pregnancy Update—Week 17

Friday, June 15, I had an amnio. Not everyone over 35 has an amnio, but it’s becoming increasingly common as technology improves. When you get pregnant past 35, you get put into the “advanced age mother” category and receive all kinds of literature about birth defects (fun!). Then you get to choose between getting a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) at 12 weeks, an amnio at 16 weeks, some preliminary tests (that are totally safe, but not totally accurate and may give false positives for birth defects) to help you decide if you should have one of the other tests, or nothing. Maybe it’s because I’m “over 35,” but I didn’t want any surprises. I wanted to know the sex of the baby (boy), and I wanted to know that everything else was okay, too. After some research, we determined that the CVS is just too risky and that the amnio is pretty safe—safer than getting your appendix out at eight weeks, that’s for sure. Why is 35 the magic number for getting an amnio (in fact, they don’t let you get one if you’re under 35)? Because 35 is the age at which the risk of having a miscarriage from the amnio is the same as the risk that your baby will have a birth defect. The biggest one thrown around is “Down Syndrome,” but there are 20-something defects an amnio tests for. The risk of anything going wrong is .5%—and that’s anything going wrong, even if it doesn’t lead to miscarriage. So for the first trimester I was constantly worried about miscarriage. Then I just couldn’t wait to get the amnio overwith. The amnio itself is scary. They stick a big needle in you and tell you not to exercise for the next 48 hours. Then, if all goes well, you have to wait up to two weeks for the results. Kind of like waiting for the results of an AIDS test, if you’ve ever had one of those (I’ve had many.)

So the day of the amnio came, and Martin and I went to the prenatal place together. First they did a long ultrasound, which is when we found out it was a boy and got to see the chambers of the heart, the parts of the brain, etc. It was a lot of fun. He was opening his mouth and moving his arms—just like I mentioned in my previous “update.” Then, once the ultrasound is over, the doctor comes in and does another ultrasound (he’s quicker, but shows you all the same things), then asks if you still want to go through with the amnio. “Yes,” I said. And then he uses the ultrasound to see where to put the needle, then he marks my stomach, then in goes the needle, and it barely hurt at all—less than getting my blood drawn. It was in for a minute while they sucked out two vials of fluid, and I held my stomach in during that time to avoid any pain. Then he pulled it out—that was the most painful part—and voila, it was over. The reason I’m going into so much detail is that I think a lot of people hear amnios are very scary and painful, and mine wasn’t at all. It was no worse than getting my blood drawn. If all is well, they call you and, if you don’t answer, leave a voicemail message saying, “We have some good news for you!” If all is not well, they call your OB and let her deal with it. So I was very happy Tuesday afternoon to get a voicemail message that said, “We have some good news for you!” I called right back, but she didn’t have much more information. “Everything looks great,” she said. It was a happy day. And now I can stop worrying and start shopping for baby furniture, I thought.

Well, one last note about worrying. I still have a lot of “birth plan” decisions to make. After flirting with the idea of a home birth (my sister-in-law had both of her children at home), I’ve decided to go with the hospital, and maybe I’ll blog more about that decision later. I’m still trying to decide whether I want an epidural (my plan until now was not to get one, but I’m reconsidering), whether I want a doula and whether I want to invest in this $1000 German contraption that makes birth a lot easier called Epi-No. Lots of decisions to make. And a book to write. Oy vey. I have much to do.

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4 Comments

Filed under Pregnancy

4 responses to “Pregnancy Update—Week 17

  1. Epi-No, or Epidural or Both!!! What the heck do I know? But then – isn’t pain management one of the miracles of modern medicine?

    You are such a damn good climber – you don’t have to prove that you are strong, can endure pain etc…. You have already been there, done that….etc. Even though they are two different things… how many moms can say that?

  2. Amy

    My friend just had an amazing experience with hypno-babies… natural childbirth and she was fine. Just another thing to consider… I’m not advocating for anything in particular, just have some anecdotal evidence that it works. If you want I can put you in touch…

  3. m++

    Oh, I’ve considered hypnotherapy and am still thinking about it. One thing I’ve learned is that the people who had horrible experiences without an epidural were people who were NOT prepared to give birth without an epidural. I really think if you’re in the right frame of mind, you’ll be fine, so that’s my goal.

  4. Bustopher

    That last comment was from me, not M++, whose computer I’m using!

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