Between 11 and 13ish weeks you can do the First Trimester Combined Screening – a combination of blood work and a detailed ultrasound that shows the chances of your baby having a birth defect. Besides the obvious checking for a heartbeat, organs and counting of the appropriate number of arms and legs, it also gives you a view of your risks for Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) Trisomy 13 (awful), and Trisomy 18 (fucking horrifying) – and I say this with the utmost compassion and respect for those families that have gracefully dealt with these issues. They are better people than I.
While they can’t tell you conclusively whether your baby has such a problem, they give you a good indication and can help you decide if further testing (like CVS or Amnio) may be called for.
That is, if you want to know. This testing is optional—a fact I may have forgotten to mention to Andrew. Not intentionally – honestly – I just made the assumption that he would feel the same way about testing (knowledge is power) that I do. He does, but I probably shouldn’t have assumed. He realized in speaking to some guys at work that not everybody opts for this testing and was surprised. Whoops. Personally, I can’t imagine why you’d want to remain in the dark – but, I get that some people feel like they wouldn’t do anything differently anyways and would rather not find out something that is beyond their control. I guess. No, I still don’t get it…I’m trying.
If there were a manageable problem with Perry, I’d be spending the next 6 months researching the shit out of it, getting supports in place, lining up experts and programs and therapies…and probably going to therapy myself to get my head right.
Anyhow, it’s fairly accurate. For example, first-trimester screening correctly finds Down syndrome in 82 to 87 out of 100 fetuses (feti?) who have it. Of course, this also means that it is missed in 13 to 18 out of 100 fetuses (seriously, shouldn’t it be feti??). If you combine your first trimester test results with additional screening from the second trimester, the accuracy jumps to 95%.
It was scary for me because I am (shamefully) afraid of coping with Down Syndrome, and had it been positive for Trisomy 13 or 18, I would have given serious thought to terminating the pregnancy. Not fun thoughts. Age was also a factor in my fear. Basically, the way this testing works is, you have a background risk based on your age alone and then your test results give you a new, “adjusted” risk. Because I am 35, my background risk of Down Syndrome was already 1 in 255. I don’t know about you, but this wasn’t a comforting stat…tennis underdog Roberta Vinci was given 1 in 300 odds of knocking #1-ranked Serena Williams out of the US Open. That shit happened, yo. To Serena fucking Williams.
Luckily, my adjusted risk for DS is 1 in 5105 and I basically kicked Trisomy 13 & 18 in their wussy little asses on Monday. Everything else looked good as well, and besides being hard to rouse (in spite of vigorous pushing, poking, prodding, rolling and bouncing) Perry is alive and well. As Andrew said, he* sleeps like his mother. Here’s hoping he* carries on with that!
*No, I/we don’t think it’s a boy. I/we don’t think anything…I don’t know how you would guess on your first pregnancy with nothing to compare to?!
P.S – You guys! I just found out that my talented friend Christina can photoshop my ultrasound pic so that Perry is giving the finger (the ultrasound tech may have kinda deserved it) or devil horns…just like I had hoped for! God, I love working with art directors!