Pregnancy

What It Feels Like To Fail Your Prenatal Screening

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Somewhere around the top of my list of ‘scariest things that have ever happened to me’ is the time I failed my quad screen during my pregnancy. When my Science Mom brain is operating at full capacity, I’m able to explain that a prenatal screening isn’t really something you can ‘fail’ at all, and doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong: it’s just a heads-up that something requires further investigation. (We got lucky that the ‘further investigation’ revealed only good, albeit stunning, news.) But directly after getting the “we need to talk” result from my doctor’s office, though, Science Mom was not on the premises and all information had to be routed through Frantic Panic Mom instead. Here’s how the 72-ish hours between that dire phone call and the follow-up appointment went.

1. DO NOT ASK DR. GOOGLE FOR HELP

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What are the odds something is actually wrong if you flunk your prenatal screening? Who else has gone through this and what happened to them? What could be wrong with my baby? What should I have done differently to avoid this? Is it all the ice cream I’ve been eating? I knew nothing Dr. Google said could help me, so I resolved not to go near an Internet browser.

2. Frantic googling

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Avoid Googling? For three days? HAHAHA. A flagged result on a quad screen means somewhere around a 3% chance something is actually wrong, but good luck explaining those odds to your brain. Five minutes into reading search results, I was convinced my poor baby was suffering from anencephaly. Dear anxiety attacks, please go away forever. I reiterate: do as I say, not as I do, and do not ask Dr. Google for help.

3. Stress eating

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My old workplace provided free microwave popcorn, juice, and milk. I ate more Orville Reddenbacher in those few days than I have eaten at every movie I’ve ever seen in the theater combined.

4. Convincing yourself everything is OK

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Just shut up for a few minutes, brain! The weekend before our doctor appointment, we spent a few hours hanging out with some good friends, who (I learned later) my husband had strategically coached not to mention the elephant in the room, or rather, in the uterus. Being separated from my computer was the best possible thing that could have happened at this point.

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