I’ve gotten some questions from folks about this baby and pregnancy after Ds, so I thought I’d just knock it all out at once. Some of this is rehashed, I think, so bear with me. I just don’t want to leave a gap. And, as always, feel free to ask anything else!
What did we do for prenatal testing this time? I’ve said before that they do quote a higher chance of having a baby with Ds to women to have had a previous child with Down syndrome. Geneticists don’t have any real evidence for this increase (there are theoretical ideas, but nothing that’s supported by the population), but it does give us the ability to get further testing, paid for by the insurance company. So, this time around we chose to do the Nuchal Translucency screening, or subsequential screen, which is two blood tests combined with an ultrasound. It has the most reliable results of any of the noninvasive procedures (it’s only outdone by amniosynthesis and CVS testing in accuracy), so it seemed like a good place for us to start. I didn’t feel comfortable to not do ANY testing, just because I still, to this day, think that Piper only made it because we knew. It certainly wouldn’t change anything, except how closely we were monitored for the rest of the pregnancy.
How do pregnancies with a Down syndrome baby feel different? If you think about it, the quad screen blood test measures for altered chemicals and hormones in the mother’s blood. So, if those numbers are off, you feel off. Quad screens can also detect things like spina bifida, Duodenal Atresia (which may have been why Piper’s numbers were a little more obvious, 1:277), and other indicators of fetal wellbeing. The test, however, is NOT perfect, and can be thrown off by LOTS of factors (including maternal weight, a variation of gestational age of more than a couple days, the way the mother’s body is coping with the alterations, etc), which is why it’s a good screening test. I hoped (and hoped and hoped and HOPED) that a lot of my problems with Piper were because of the Ds. I can say that the morning sickness wasn’t as permeating as it was last time, but lasted just as long and was NOT fun (not a big surprise, now, is it)? Apparently some of the other things are just ME, and weren’t because of Piper, which bums me out a little, but whatchya gonna do, right?
Am I nervous this time around? ABSOLUTELY. I try not to let myself think about the possibility of another preemie (or how close we were to losing Piper), but sometimes you just can’t. Now that we’ve seen the baby again (we did a Level II ultrasound last week with the perinatologist where they check EVERYTHING on the baby) and everything looks fine, I’m feeling A LOT better. It’s been tough getting to this point, because, I guess, I was afraid to get too excited. I think that after you go through a traumatic birth and see your little girl so sick, it really makes you realize how delicate things are, and how easy it is for something to go wrong. And you’ve seen, even if not in your own child, how wrong things can go.
We are NOT supposed to have a higher risk of another preemie, because Piper came on her own accord and not because of preterm labor. So that’s the statistic I hold on to. And I understand that- rationally. Emotionally, however, is another story. To put everyone’s mind to ease (including my doctor), we’re being watched closely this time around, too. We’re going to go in every two weeks until 30 weeks, when we’ll start NSTs once a week. We don’t live particularly close to our doctor, but I’m more than willing to make all the trips if it means having less to worry about.
We are SO excited to have another little girl running around soon. For one thing, at least we’ll be able to reuse Piper’s overwhelming wardrobe. And we have every season in every size, so that’ll help, too. Although I keep telling Luke that, just because we have clothes, it doesn’t preclude me from buy ANYTHING. Just an FYI.
Besides- getting to do matching dress-up outfits? YES, PLEASE!