“And then the husband passed out.”
I chuckled at the doctor’s story just like I was supposed to as the technician prepared the biggest needle I had ever seen in my life. The specialist was sharing anecdotes about fainting spouses in an effort to distract me from the upcoming procedure.
As I laid there with my sterilized belly exposed I didn’t cry. I had shed more than enough tears in the past three weeks, and they weren’t due to typical, fluctuating pregnancy hormones. This streak had begun when a nurse from the OB’s office phoned: Abnormal test results. Follow-up required. Call this number. Have a nice day.
An hour earlier, the fascinating Level 2 ultrasound distracted me from weeping. The technician had pointed out fingers and toes in all their 3-D glory. She told me to look away at the right moment since she knew I wanted the baby’s gender to be a surprise.
Despite my desire for suspense, I had signed a bunch of release forms during my last visit to the obstetrician. I read the disclaimers but thought, What’s the harm? They’re drawing blood anyway. Knowing that bad things happen to other people, I agreed to the screening tests as a formality.
When the results came back indicating that the fetus might have Trisomy 18, I was shocked. I had never heard of the genetic disorder. Thanks to the power of the internet, I soon knew enough to come undone.
What the internet didn’t tell me was how to behave until I knew for sure. It was hard to accept congratulations as people learned of my pregnancy. I knew that, “I’m terrified that my baby may only live for days” was not the proper answer to “How are you feeling?”
So I found myself in the office of a specialist in high-risk pregnancies hoping for confirmation one way or the other. He explained how no markers for the condition were observed during the ultrasound. However, if I wanted to know without a doubt, I needed amniocentesis. Through tears I asked to use his phone. Bravely or foolishly, I had come to the appointment alone and didn’t know what to do. I called my husband, and we decided to find out for sure.
Risks explained and consent forms complete, I was alone in the room with the technician, the doctor, and the needle. The fluid was drawn out. I was sent home and told to wait for the results.
Another week passed in uncertainty. I carried my phone with me everywhere, hearing phantom rings and checking for missed calls. I tried not to think about what we would do if they told me my baby had a fatal disorder. All I could think about is what we would do if they told me my baby had a fatal disorder. Impatient and anxious, I called the office for my results. I had to leave a message and resume my wait.
A nurse phoned back a day later: “Oh, everything’s fine. You just had a false positive on your blood work.”
She hung up. I hoped she was rushing off to call another pregnant woman to give her good news. Maybe she would even celebrate with her. For me, five weeks of waiting, worrying, stress, and crying came to an end without fanfare. Of that, I’m positive.
A big thank you to the writers in the yeah write summer series bronze lounge who helped me transform this blog post into this story.