Friday, August 19, 2011

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

When last we visited this topic, I left you waiting where our wait began. Our amniocentesis was scheduled for 6 weeks out.

It had to be to get us into the proper, safe window. It was a long wait! Shortly before our appointment, I received a call asking if I'd mind rescheduling for 2 more weeks out. Yes! I would mind! They said I didn't have to if I didn't want to, so I didn't. I just about flipped out in tears on the girl when she called me.

You know how your love for your unborn child grows as your pregnancy progresses? Well this time around it really seemed like the potential for problems spurred the love in me. I felt this great need for my baby to know that it was loved!

I visited my father and his wife with the intention of telling them about the risks and upcoming test. I finally chickened out, deciding that there was no point in worrying them if everything was going to be fine anyway. We were determined to keep a positive attitude.

As I got about half-way to the amniocentesis date, I started worrying. I wasn't so much worried about the procedure itself as I was about the 48 hours of recuperating. No lifting anything, no doing anything, probably no toddler pile-driving onto my belly! And then, of course, there were the results!

I felt as though my pregnancy (along with my life, really) was in limbo. Everything was paused until we figured this one thing out. I also occasionally just freaked out with worry about the results and fell apart into tears. These times were usually after Elmo was already in bed. Thankfully I had good online support from friends. (Huge thanks go out to the Natural Parents Network volunteer team!)

The night before the amniocentesis I was a mess! I managed to find and watch a video of an actual amniocentesis procedure (not from THIS country, of course!). We had been wanting a boy, but if given the choice between Turner Syndrome or Down Syndrome, I'd decided Turner would be "better." Well, Turner Syndrome only effects girls. So the idea was to simply hope for a healthy boy! I did get a helper to come stay with us so she could help with Sasha during my recuperation time, as well.

The morning (a Thursday) of the amniocentesis, Elmo and I were both very nervous. I was sick to my stomach. I'm glad it was a morning appointment! We first sat and talked with the Genetic Counselor for any additional questions we had. Elmo was concerned about the risk of miscarriage and we got the numbers: 1 in 500. We signed the consent form and headed to our U/S room.

We liked our ultrasound technician. She was nice and had just a little bit of a sense of humor. She got started on our measurements (from the top) and we just watched and waited for sex identification...

That's right... the boy my husband has always wanted! This did leave Elmo more concerned about Down Syndrome, but at least this way we walked away knowing something... our baby didn't have Turner Syndrome. I did ask the tech about NT measurements but she answered vaguely that gestationally things change and now it was an NT Fold. As she finished up measurements, the doctor came in to do the amniocentesis. (It was the same doctor that did our NT scan. She is very nice.)

My belly was cleaned with betadine. Then I was sprayed down, ALL over my belly, with cherry-scented numbing spray. Then I got some sterile gel (it was in a separate foil packet). The doctor was very clear about what would happen. Elmo was given a cold cloth, in case I needed it on my forehead. And told to sit next to me (out of the way). The doctor said he had 2 jobs: to have the cloth available for me and to hold my hand. I was also told to keep my extra hand above my head. This is to avoid the reflex of grabbing the pained spot.

The Genetic Counselor mentioned that Turner Syndrome had been ruled out, but that there was a possibility of Noonan Syndrome. We hadn't even heard of it! We were kind of upset about having this sprung on us.

Also, I had watched for the NT and asked about it, but the U/S tech vaguely said that it isn't the same thing at this stage of the pregnancy so they don't do the same measurements. Well it really was still there and enlarged, it is just called something else (NT Fold). The tech's initial response irritated me in hindsight.

We were thrilled, however, to be told that the Genetic Counselor would be monitoring her email through the weekend and call us as soon as she got news! The doctor expected the results would arrive on Sunday, but by Monday at the latest. We already had an appointment scheduled for our regular OB visit on Monday, so that worked well.

The doctor and the U/S tech searched for the perfect spot to use for the amniocentesis. The doctor really wanted to find a high spot because it hurts less. I appreciated the effort, but was willing to handle more pain for the sake of safety. I wound up with a low spot.

I got "the short needle," which meant about 4-6 inches long. I felt each layer (except maybe the outer-most) as it punctured! The last was the worst one. Then I was holding my breath for a bit, but it takes too long to hold your breath the whole time. I'm not sure I've ever been so still! Our boy had been bouncing all over the place during the measurements, the tech kept having to chase him! So I was worried he would bump into the needle. He seemed to have settled in, though, thankfully.

They drew more fluid than I expected (4 syringes). I was told to "go home, eat, and have a nap." The cramps were fairly strong at first and for a while. I ate a sandwich on the way home and took some Tylenol once we arrived. I napped. I was tired. The doctor instructed that I not lift anything heavier than a milk jug and avoid any kind of sex until Sunday morning. At that point, we'd be clear of any possible infection.

I was tired (and napped) Friday, too. I napped on Saturday, but didn't really feel as tired. By Sunday morning, I felt as though I was completely back to normal! We even went grocery shopping and I got to carry Sasha around the store a bit!

And just as I waited (again), so I make you wait all over again on my behalf. Please come back again for the third part (the conclusion, I promise) of this tale. I'm certain your wait will be easier than mine was!

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