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.
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.