I Said I Refused To Be Freaked Out By My ‘Advanced Maternal Age.’ I Lied

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I get to the perinatal testing center and see the technician that helped me at my NT appointment. She is surprised to see me there for a test that I had just refused mere weeks ago. I tell her that I was informed I had “soft markers” for a child with genetic disorders and wanted to get further tests done. She informs me that the receptionist from my birthing center never should have called me because the testing isn’t done. The first trimester screen is a sequential test. Two blood draws are needed to give accurate “statistics.” I haven’t had my second blood draw yet, so the numbers the receptionist gave me are wrong.

Great. So I’ve just spent the last week waking up in a cold sweat for nothing. I opt to have the more thorough Harmony blood test anyway, since I’m there and I just want to put all of this testing behind me. The technician tells me it is a “great idea” because it has an over 99% detection rate – without the invasive procedure of an amnio. She tells me if I’m getting it done then there really isn’t a necessity for the second part of the sequential screen because those results are much less accurate – but that it’s good to have both because the sequential screen can test to make sure the placenta is functioning properly. Again, I decide to just do both since I’m there and I want this all to be over with.

Three weeks and the holidays go by. Of course the testing is in the back of my mind the entire time. I’m having a hard time even accepting that I am pregnant. I don’t know if this is a coping mechanism brought about by all of my past problems with pregnancies, or if the stress of these tests is not allowing me to relax and bond with this child growing inside me. Whatever the case – it sucks.

I finally have the appointment at the birthing center to go over all of my testing results.  I sit down with the midwife. She pulls out the results of the sequential screen and begins to speak in a lowered voice.

Her: The screen shows that your baby has an elevated risk for Down’s Syndrome. Your probability came out 1 in 255.

One in 255? I’m not really a math person, but those seem like some pretty good odds to me.

Me: Is there any way we can start with the results from the test I took that has a 99% detection rate, instead of the one that has an 80% detection rate?

Her: Oh. Let me look. (flips through chart for two minutes) Here it is. This one is saying you are low risk for all of the genetic abnormalities it tests for. But because of your age and poor OB history, I think you should still have an amnio.

Me: Really? Why did I even bother to take the other test if it is coming back negative and you are still recommending an amnio?

Her: I’m not a geneticist. I can’t interpret the results. But you know, you’re not 20 – you’re 39.

Me: If you’re not a geneticist and you can’t interpret the results, why the fuck am I here? It’s 25 degrees outside. I’m five months pregnant. I had to take a train here in the freezing cold to meet with someone for no apparent reason? Why didn’t you just make an appointment for me at the lab so I could talk to someone who could “interpret the results?”

Now I’m pissed to the point of crying, but I don’t want to cause a scene. I’ve already dropped the f-bomb. Against my wishes, she calls the perinatal center and makes an appointment for “genetic counseling.” I change the subject before I freak and tell her I’ll be moving to Florida soon and won’t be delivering at her birthing center.

She says, “You’ll never get a VBAC in Florida. You should fly back here to deliver.”

I inform her that I don’t think the airlines will even allow me to fly when I’m that far along.

She says, “you can take a train from Orlando to Penn Station.”

WHAT? I realize then that I am talking to a crazy person. I leave.

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