Your Test Was Positive

I got a phone call from the doctor’s office. Someone on the other line said, “Hello, this is so and so from doctor so and so’s office. I’m calling to let you know your test was positive.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It doesn’t mean anything. Not really. These tests are just a screen and they don’t tell us anything concrete. You wouldn’t believe how many people get a positive, but go on to have perfectly healthy babies.”

“Oh, the tests aren’t accurate?”

“Well, your age is probably skewing the results. At 40 you just get a higher number, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

“OK, but could you tell me what the positive test was for? Was it Down Syndrome? Is that what we are talking about?”

“Hold on,” she said shuffling papers around. “Yes, for Down Syndrome.” You’ll need to make an appointment to come in to see the doctor so he can explain what happens next. Don’t worry about it though because it’s not a big deal. Like I said the test results don’t mean anything.”

I went to the doctor the next day where he suggested I see a perinatal geneticist and have more tests done. He mentioned something about scores and statistics, but never really explained them so on my way out I asked the medical receptionist if I could get a copy of my test results.

Then I googled every single score trying to figure out what was wrong. Where were these positive results coming from?  All of my scores were normal. Every single one. The only problem was I was over 40. For a month I worried and obsessed about the health of our baby in between putting it completely out of my mind and trying to get on with things with a stiff upper lip.

Then I met with the team of specialists. I had an in-depth ultrasound done and all of the baby parts were accounted for and growing right on schedule. She was sucking her thumb and everything. Then the geneticist walked in with my previous test results and exclaimed, “They said you had an abnormal NT, but I can’t find a single thing wrong with yours.” (NT= Nuchal Translucency and you can read more about it here if you don’t know what it is) Then she said, “I guess they just wanted me to tell you that at 40 you have a 1 in 79 chance of having a baby with down syndrome.” Something I already knew because I am a mom and over 40. I mean, who doesn’t know your chances of having a baby with down syndrome increases with age? Did they really need to put me through a month of anxiety just to tell me that? The geneticist seemed to be thinking the same thing as she interrupted her counseling session several times to make comments on how cute our baby girl was, as the ultrasound tech finished up her measurements, and to recommend we name the baby after her…which we briefly considered because she was so upbeat and nice to us during such a stressful time.

Your Test Came Back Positive: Big fears during pregnancy and falling in love with your baby girl.

Then we discussed how all of the test scores for the screening were normal and how the baby looked pretty normal on the ultrasound. We also discussed amniocentesis and some other blood tests that could be done to determine if our baby was the 1 in 79 to have down syndrome.

We decided not to have any more tests. We’re just going to have this baby girl and be happy. No more stress. No more worrying. This baby will be perfect just the way she is.


Is This Your Last Baby?

I was at the doctor’s the other day getting my monthly pregnancy check up when my doctor asked me, “Is this your last baby?” My answer was a mixed up mess filled with probablys, I think so’s, and of course it is. I’m 40 years old after all. Jim is in his fifties. I mean, we’re old parents so two kids is probably all we’re going to successfully produce, but still, the idea that this is it for us feels so final. Like a big “THE END” on our family…even though two kids is probably all we really wanted to begin with. All we can afford. All we have room for in our home. Still, I can’t bring myself to embrace this ending.

After my discussion with the doctor he went on to explain how he could tie my tubes right after delivering our second bundle of joy. Or,  after he saw my face scrunch up as I processed the idea of labor, delivery, and surgery all at the same time, he explained that we could also wait and tie them up a few months later using a procedure that he could perform in less than 15 minutes. I suggested vasectomy as the only reasonable option and he laughed and laughed and wished me good luck with that one.

I was left thinking about how much can change in just a short five years. Minutes after Tiny-Small was born people were asking me when we were going to have a second one. After going through a fairly traumatic labor, and struggling with breastfeeding, I felt like a washed-up failure of a mother so my first thought was: NEVER. Still, people kept asking. Strangers, family members, and even the odd grocery store clerk took it upon themselves to inform me that I was ruining my daughters life by sentencing her to a lifetime of only-child status. At the time I seriously thought we were a one and done kind of family. After all, Tiny-Small was awesome and kind of wild so I simultaneously thought we’d never get so lucky again while bemoaning the fact that I probably couldn’t handle two of her at the same time anyway!

Fast forward five years later and strangers, family members, and even the odd store clerk are asking us a different question: You don’t want anymore do you? Apparently two kids is the perfect number. Especially when you are 40. I mean, the horror on their faces says it all as they watch me squirm under the question and answer them with sentences that begin with a long, drawn out, “Well….” It’s not that I don’t understand the risks of having more children or the fact that pregnant woman my age are jokingly referred to as “geriatric mothers” behind closed doors. I get it. I’m not the ideal age to be birthing a giant brood. I mean, one of the midwives at our clinic even asked me if this second baby was planned. I guess most babies born to the over 40 crowd are accidents.

It’s still kind of a shock that just a few years ago people were demanding I pop out more kids and now the idea of me having one more child leads them to admonish me in incredulous tones. It’s only been five years since Tiny-Small was born and I don’t really feel that much different. I still feel like I am 25 most of the time. It’s not super comfortable to have your doctor and the world constantly reminding you that you are getting closer and closer to deaths door. Nothing makes you feel quite like an old crone as being pregnant and over 40 at the OBGYN’s office.

The truth is I’m kind of assuming that after giving birth for the second time, and going through whatever fresh hell this one has in store for me, I’ll be begging my doctor to sterilize me immediately after birth. If he’d asked me a month or so ago when I spent my days vomiting into the porcelain god I probably would have asked him to sterilize me in that very moment. So, I am confident this urge to have just one more baby will pass right along with the placenta and then, maybe, return five years from now when I’ll be exceptionally decrepit as far as motherhood goes. So, in reality, this probably is our last baby. Which gives me pause.

Is this your last baby?

I have the usual feelings about slowing down and taking it all in. The whole stay in the moment more thing and “enjoy every precious fleeting second of childhood” and pregnancy and birth that I see plastered all over the internet on a daily basis. But I also have  another competing feeling squeaking it’s way through my consciousness and that is: HURRY UP! My life is going by quickly and there are so many things I haven’t accomplished yet. So many thing unfinished. All of this talk about my age has made me acutely aware of how much time I may or may not have left on this planet.

I’m over here singing “Whatever will be will be…” while frantically making bucket lists and business goals as I straddle the abyss and let my existential crisis consume me. All this over one simple question…is this your last baby?

Yes it is. Maybe. I’m not sure. Just stop asking because I am too busy staying in the moment and trying to check things off my to-do list to make a definite decision. Besides, I think nature might make that decision for us in the long run.



How To Choose A Baby Name In 10 Not So Easy Steps

Psst…I have to confess I stopped painting after 15 days. My #30in30 challenge fizzled. I’m blaming it on pregnancy hormones, the desire to clean out all the things, and the fact that I only have a couple of weeks to prepare for the next art show. I’ll do better next year!


There are many instructions out there on how to choose a baby name. I know because I have read them all. Naming a baby is a big responsibility and you can’t take it lightly. My husband and I certainly didn’t and certainly don’t. When we were naming Tiny-Small it took us months to decide. We went around in circles. Now, as we are approaching the baby naming task for the second time, I am starting to see a pattern emerge.

Step 1: Make a giant list of names from every baby naming source you can get your hands on. Scour the internet. Read old baby name books from yard sales. Scroll through every name on Facebook. Write down the names you love and even the names you can merely live with. Then read the list to your husband.

Step 2: Have your husband hate every single name on the list. Every single one because they remind him of an ex girl friend, an ex co-worker, or an ex-something or other and anyway those are just the worst names ever.

Step 3: Ask husband to make a list of names he does like. Listen to your husband make up random syllables that aren’t real names, because he thinks it is funny, while you try not to tear your own hair out. Watch as he teaches your daughter to play along until you find yourself rocking in a corner thinking maybe “Goobie-Doobie” is a name you could possibly live with.

Step 4: Ask friends and family for name suggestions. Realize you hate all of the names in the whole world. Who came up with these names anyway?

How to choose a baby name in 10 not so easy steps.

Step 5: Either you or your husband blurt out a name in a fit of desperation and then you both cling to it because neither of you hate it and it just might mean the odyssey of baby naming is at an end.

Step 6: Tell a few people the name you have chosen. Watch their faces crumple in disgust because they think it’s weird or old-fashioned or too common or too uncommon or it’s the name of their ex-something something. Decide you don’t care because you have finally found a name you and your husband can agree on so the rest of the world will just have to learn to love it.

Step 7: Fight over how to spell it.

Step 8: Wish you could drink margaritas, but you can’t because you are pregnant. Think Margarita might be a pretty name….

Step 9: Stop telling people the name you have chosen and tell them you are still deciding, because if you tell them, they will bemoan how you didn’t name your child after Aunt Bertha. Or that you need to add a few more middle names to keep the peace. Or that the name you’ve chosen sounds like something you’d name a dog.

Step 10: Have baby, fall madly in love with both baby and chosen name. Think your husband is a genius. Watch everyone else fall in love with your baby despite her name. Live happily ever after. The end.


P.S. We are having a girl! Leave your name suggestions in the comments below or forever hold your peace.


Where art and family collide.