1.Down’s Syndrome Tests: When “what if” comes very close to “most probably”

Arlésiennes (Mistral) by Paul Gauguin  This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
Arlésiennes (Mistral)
by Paul Gauguin
This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

On Tuesday September 23, on my birthday, I got a call from my obstetrician’s clinic. They had received my trisomy 21 results, the test showing the probability of me carrying a baby with down’s syndrome. I was expecting the results any second but I was not expecting a call… And definitely not an emergency appointment during a week when my own obstetrician was away on vacation and I would have to see another doctor.

Based on the manner the appointment was scheduled and the mere fact that I had gotten a call from the clinic, I could have worried myself to tears for the next two days but husband and I decided to see it as a standard procedure where they would be calling anyone whose results were ready in order to avoid any possible complaints from patients although I knew the likelihood to encounter otherwise was high.

And yes, on Thursday I did find out that the results were not so bright. The trisomy test gives you a certain percentage as to the possibility of your fetus having down’s syndrome. And this possibility rises with age, and of course your body’s age. I was 33 when I got pregnant and turned 34 this week. Normally, I try to eat well, though not a crazy sports fan exercise whenever I can, I don’t smoke and in fiercest weeks, I used to drink a glass of wine per day. So I was surprised that my blood test proved my body to be that of a 36 year old woman and that my possibility of carrying a fetus with down’s syndrome had risen from 1 in 500 before the trisomy tests to 1 in 200 afterwards. The threshold being 1 in 300, I was offered an amniocentesis.

While all this information was being poured on us, both the husband and I were trying to take notes on our notebooks like good little students but I was jotting numbers in a meaningless order because no matter how much I had prepared myself for the worst, I still hoped to hear “your numbers are just fine, and you do not have much reason to worry about anything”.

Waiting for that very sentence, staring blankly at the ob, trying to digest the info, relying heavily on husband’s skills with numbers and probability theory, I watched as the nice ob I was seeing for the first time in my life arrange an amniocentesis for the next day at the hospital giving us the option to not go if we chose to have the baby no matter what the chromosomes may show. Before doing so, she also added that couples who chose to have a baby with down’s syndrome after getting the amniocentesis results had a better chance of staying together in the future than those who refused the amnio only to have a down’s syndrome kid while expecting a perfectly normal one.

Numbers and words floating in our heads, we left the clinic and came the time to brood and fight with dilemmas…


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