the same, yet different

Isn’t it funny how much things can change and yet remain exactly the same?

Three years ago we were 11 weeks pregnant with Caroline, embarking on a brand new journey replete with tests we had never heard of like the “quad screen.” My French Canadian and Polish heritage raised a red flag and the doctors tossed a screen for Tay Sachs in with the battery of blood work they ordered. When my results came back “ambiguous,” I panicked. When Steve’s also returned “ambiguous,” I lost my marbles. We waited nearly two agonizing weeks for the next level screen to come back, but during that time we were encouraged to set up a preliminary appointment with a geneticist. Weeks of worrying ended in a negative result and though we had never felt so relieved, I was filled with such regret for undergoing any of the “recommended” testing; for putting us through such a terrible emotional wait. It is what it is, isn’t it? Even with a concerning results nothing is ever certain, just a best guess of risk.

In the time between our pregnancies the medical world has shifted from the “quad screen” to a nuchal fold screen for Down’s and Trisomy 18. If there is one thing I do well while pregnant it is complain, so indulge me while I get some good ol’ complaining in. Our appointment was for 9:15, the earliest appointment they had available. We concocted an elaborate morning plan for daycare drop off and parking lot meet up to take just one car to the hospital. Since I drove in with Steve, we were there in the waiting room before 9. That boy has unprecedented punctuality. I made a casual joking remark to the nurse at check in inquiring if this was a “full bladder situation” and of course, it was. At nearly 9:45, after we had watched all the other mommies to be get called in ahead of us, we were finally led into the “genetic counseling office” where a lovely young woman (who Steve feels has the WORST job on Earth) very clearly spelled out the specifics of the screen. She made diagrams, drew arrows, and asked us if we wanted to do the screening.

I was torn, but we were already there, already moments from seeing little mac again. How could I pass that up? We were ushered back to the waiting room where the clock now read 10am, one hour since my joking comment about the full bladder situation that was now becoming a full bladder emergency. Not only was I uncomfortable, but now we sat were also there stewing together. They were running so late, clearly an issue for punctual Steve. We were also annoyed that the medical world has turned pregnancy into what was feeling like a terrible form of emotional torture. We had a snippy “what’s the point?” conversation because the results will only be a best guess at risk and that might mean more “recommended” testing that I don’t want to do and more discussions and more stuff we don’t want to even consider. So much for pregnancy being such a happy glowy time right???

I understand why they do these screenings, I do. I understand that the medical community is trying its best to educate parents on potential risks as early as possible. I get it, I just don’t think it is for us.

We did get to see all three glorious inches of Mac, whose little fluttering heartbeat brought a tear to my genetically overwhelmed eye. S/he flipped and flopped and turned completely over at one point. It was just as amazing as I remember it being three years ago. Different, and yet, the same.


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