I am super spoiled when it comes to the number of ultra sounds I am given in my pregnancies. When pregnant with Maddie, I literally had 17 or 18 ultra sounds by the time she was born. Basically, the reason for the sky rocketing costs of health care is spoiled rotten mamas like me. ;) I love them!!! If I could, I would have an ultra sound every single day. I just love seeing the little peanuts moving around and their little heart puttering steadily. It's sort of amazing to be able to view this tiny little world contained inside my tummy.
This ultra sound was a level two, which shows more detail, so I went to a city about an hour away to have it performed. We have done this with my past 3 pregnancies so that a special test called a Nuchal Translucency Screen, can be done. In my lay person terms, it's a way of measuring the area in the back of the baby's neck. What they look for is too much fluid or too large of an area.
What I copied from somewhere online:
The NT test uses ultrasound to measure the clear (translucent) space in the tissue at the back of your developing baby's neck. Babies with abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid at the back of their neck during the first trimester, causing this clear space to be larger than average.
We were sent to see a genetic counsellor after losing our second baby and we also meet with her at this ultra sound appointment. On our first visit over 4 years ago, she took an exteneive family history from both Seth and I, and tested DNA from both of us. Neither of us carried genetic mutations, which was a relief, of course. Since then, we see her once a pregnancy for prenatal tests. Its sort of nice to see the same person, even if just once in each pregnancy, over again. She remembers our history and our girls and is just a super sharp doctor. She reviews the NT screen, and combines it with information gained from blood screens to assess our risk of having another baby with a chromosome abnormality.
The NT looked great, as did other parts of the anatomy. I did the first stage of the blood screen yesterday as well, and will complete the series in a couple of months.
My sister in law, Tara, went with me since Seth couldn't get away from church yesterday. It was fun to have gal pal with me. I think she may never ride with me ever again since I am personally responsible for every "bad woman driver" joke ever told. We also went to lunch and had our cell phones turned off so I call that a GOOD DAY!! =)
Are you wondering why I consent to all the prenatal testing? I just want to state very clearly that we would never ever terminate any pregnancy based on results indicating a deformation. We would never terminate for any reason at all. I'm sure you all knew that but sometimes I think people assume that if you are willing to go through all these tests it means you might be willing to abort based on the results (which by the way, can be incorrect!). I just had to be clear about that.
So why do we do this? Does it mean that we don't trust God with our babies?
I personally don't see it that way. I know many good people who do see prenatal testing as a lack of faith but I must respectfully disagree.
When we were first offered our first prenatal test with our first pregnancy, my first thought was "What does it matter? We want the baby anyway." and I said as much to my midwife. And what she said pretty much sums up the reason I like to have the prenatal screening that is available. She said that the more we know about problems that baby may have in advance the more prepared we can be for their care. The delivery of a special needs baby can be very different than a healthy baby. Special measures can be taken to prevent further problems. Important equipment and staff can be nearby. In our case, we deliver at a small hospital without a neonatal unit. So if we knew of a problem in advance, we could plan to deliver in a more suitable hospital. No air lifting a newborn, no separate hospitals for me and baby, etc.
And aside from being medically prepared, there is emotional, financial and mental preparedness.
My personal rule of thumb for prenatal tests is that anything involving risk to the baby is not an option. So blood tests and ultra sounds: sure. Amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling: no thank you.
Something to keep in mind with the non-invasive tests, which is all that I will consent to, is that they are not 100% accurate. A problem can go undetected, and a problem that isn't actually there can show up in the results. I have had a few friends who have had scary results which had them very concerned for the rest of their pregnancy. In every case, the baby was perfectly healthy. So the risk we take is living with a "bad" test result that may or may not be true. In my opinion, that is the fact that expectant parents have to consider and decide if they can live with.
The particular series that I am doing with this pregnancy (and it is so amazing how things change so much between each pregnancy and mine haven't been more than 2 years apart so far)
combines results form the NT and the two blood screening and between all that will give a 90% rule out of several serious conditions. I am personally okay with that. I understand that there are no guarantees and ultimately God will give us the baby He wants us to have. We love the little peanut just how he or she is.
I hope I haven't been controversial or offensive in this post. I only wanted to explain that agreeing to prenatal testing is not necessarily a matter of trusting God or not. With our living children, if we suspect an illness, do we lack faith if we take them to the doctor to get a diagnosis, and possibly treatment? And just as there is not always a "cure" for birth defects, so many of the illnesses our little ones get don't really have a cure either. We just like to know what the problem is so that we can at least we aware and take whatever action we can take, even if that action is simply a more specific prayer.
Likewise, I completely understand people choosing not undergo prenatal tests. This is not a "right vs. wrong" issue in my mind.
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb."