Friday, August 12, 2011

Amniocentesis - What is it *really* like? - Part I

In all my research, I got an idea of the process of the actual amniocentesis. Nothing I could find, however, could prepare me for the entire 7 week process we experienced. I'd like to share it here with you, and with the world, for anyone else that is out there researching amniocentesis - scared and anxious.

Ultrasound at 1st NT Scan attempt - Head and shouldersUltrasound at 1st NT Scan attempt - Head and shoulders

Our story starts on June 23, 2011. The plan for the day included our OB appointment, including another try at NT scan, then to go identify my mother's body which would be waiting to be cremated. It was our first time to go to the Diabetic OB Clinic and we had no idea that we'd be treated like a herd of cattle! It was awful. I kept telling staff at each section that I really needed to be rushed through because I need to go identify my mother's body. Everyone was REALLY nice, but it seemed like I kept winding up at the back of the line.

Finally a doctor had me pulled aside for my Ultrasound / NT Scan. Not the U/S tech, the actual doctor! Everyone was really being nice, including her. Then during the scan she just stopped and turned to face me. She said "This is not a good day for you." My immediate reaction was that they still couldn't get a good read. (This was our 2nd attempt.) That wasn't it. NT is a collection of fluid at the back of the baby's neck. She went back to the view... it had been large enough that I hadn't even recognized it. This is where the tears began. I just lay there... holding Elmo's hand, crying.

Ultrasound at NT Scan - Upper ExtremitiesUltrasound at NT Scan - Upper Extremities

The actual U/S tech came in to do the measuring, so we were still stuck in there for a while. The Genetic Counselor came in to talk to us, then left and returned with a brochure about amniocentesis and a page each about Turner Syndrome and Down Syndrome. By the time we left the clinic, we'd been there for 2½ hours! Identifying my mother's body turned out to be pretty much the easiest part of my day.

Nuchal Translucency average measurement was 3.67. The largest was 3.99, which is the number that goes on the report. (2.9mm is the upper end of the normal range.) This extra space / water sac stretched from the back of our baby's head all the way to the rump!

Keep in mind, with an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, amniocentesis is still optional. The deciding factor for many is whether or not bad results would cause them to choose termination of the pregnancy. Elmo had made it clear when we got married that from that point forward, no child of his would be aborted. So it wasn't even an option to consider. However, I really wanted to know so that I could get the right support in place and know what to expect. Elmo also wanted to know so that we didn't fret for the rest of the pregnancy.

This is where the wait began. Our amniocentesis was scheduled for 6 weeks out. Just as we had to wait, this is where I make you wait. Please tune in next week to read about our experience with that 6 week wait.

Update: Part II has been posted - no more waiting!
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