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

Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon by Robert Delaunay  This work is in the public domain in the European Union and non-EU countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years or less
Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon
by Robert Delaunay
This work is in the public domain in the European Union and non-EU countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years or less

On the day of the amnio, I got pretty selfish. Firstly, there was the fear of an amnio triggered miscarriage, something underlined, emphasized and highlighted everywhere I turned to for more information. On every page on the internet, whether scientific research or personal experience, the possibility of miscarriage differed from 1 in 200 to 1 in 1600. Moreover, the numbers apparently changed based on the hospital and doctor, a matter in which I did not have much of a choice.

As if all this was not confusing enough, the procedure itself was described as being very painful to a tiny pinch on the tummy. I am pretty scared of pain and needles so the idea of having a huge needle piercing into my belly and fooling around in me, especially so close to the fetus was not a comforting idea.

Still, the morning of the amnio, husband and I were the people we usually are in nerve wrecking foreign situations: funny. This helped to deal with the anxiety of the inescapable and tasteless procedure I was to go through.

In the procedure room, the nice nurse did an ultrasound to see where the fetus was… This was the second time we were seeing it, a sneak peek into my womb, the tiny thing’s dwelling. At first it was asleep; in contrast to the last time, it was completely motionless with only the red and blue interchanging colors showing the heart beat. While the nurse poked around to determine the best spot to insert the needle, as far away for from the fetus as possible, it woke up and started moving around. That was a heart melting, lactation stimulating, hormone invigorating moment. The thing I haven’t yet met in person was reacting to physical contact like an ordinary human being.

Then she left to fetch the doctor who was busy with another patient. When they came back and had a look again, the fetus had moved. Something I found surprising, since both hubby and I like to remain stationary most of the time. It also made the fetus more human than ever, with all these attributes coming together to make up the first aspects of a personality.

Finally, the dreaded moment arrived and the needle was prepared for insertion in latex wrapped hands. I started singing a tune I heard a few minutes before I entered the room to calm my nerves. The husband was playing with my hair like I had asked him to the night before to help me relax.

And pinch! That was it, like having an ordinary blood test… But when the needle went through my womb into the amniotic fluid sac, then I felt a bit of a cramp, as the doctor had warned me. I thought it would affect my lower abdominal like menstrual pain but I felt it more in my vagina, which was unexpected.

Then, I looked at the ultrasound screen and saw my fetus, just below the needle moving around. Once inside, the doctor withdrew the needle and what was left was the tiny soft tube to extract the fluid. This was done because as I could see on the screen, the thing in my womb, the fetus seemed to be reaching out to the foreign object in its surroundings, and a sharp needle could have caused problems. For the first time in its lifetime, it was encountering something so strange. And as the doctor said, “babies are curious whether they are in the womb or out in the world”.

In a matter of seconds, enough fluid was collected and the tube was taken out of me. What I felt was definitely not pain but more of a new strange sensation. That was it. All in all, the procedure was fast, the nurse and doctor were nice and comforting, and it was painless.

Once I got home to rest for the day, much more relieved than I had been for the last few days, with no major cramps, discharge or fever indicating miscarriage or infection, I thought about the fetus movements I saw on the screen. Then I thought about how long it usually takes for a baby to actually realize what is going on around it, much less react to stimulants with conscious movements such as reaching out for an object. Thus, I decided what I saw on the screen just below the needle, was nothing but normal motions the fetus was going through on a regular day and any other meaning I wanted to attribute to it was the motherly affection I couldn’t retain easily with my hormones.

Now is that “fun” part where we wait for the test results… One more month, and I will find out whether I will become a mother or not. The emotional and intellectual debate we are having in us will have to continue for yet another month. I have to say, I can now understand much better anyone who might choose to carry on with their pregnancy in spite of a genetical problem a test shows. Yet, for us the choice is the opposite.

By the way, on the ultrasound, there was nothing protruding from the baby’s torso… Can it be a girl?

2. Down’s Syndrome Tests: When “what if” comes very close to “most probably”: Brooding and Dilemmas

Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD by George Grie This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.
Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD
by George Grie
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Normally, when it comes to such matters, I consider myself to be logical and ready to act based on scientific facts and numbers, but I still couldn’t help crying for a while before going back to work that day after the clinic. What if the fetus really does have down’s syndrome? How about the 1 in 400 risk of a miscarriage after an amnio? What if I lose the baby – I mean fetus – and a month later, the results are of a perfectly healthy baby? How does one cope with that?

At home that evening, I was surprised and also pleased to see the husband, for the first time in his life, doing research into the ethical side of the whole matter. The “what if” he had been asking himself for the last few hours was what would happen once we got the results of a defected chromosome fetus. We have seen the baby – ugh, fetus – on the ultrasound, we have lived with it for 4 months and we have been making future plans for 3 people and despite all our efforts to prevent it, we have established a bond with the tiny fragile life in me.

One month later, once we got the “positive” results as in positive for defected chromosome, after 5 months of living together, we were supposed to end the life that depended so much on us to survive. At this point, we realized, that was exactly why we had to choose to interfere in the pregnancy. There was no way of knowing how severely our child would be affected and there was a chance it might depend on us for the rest of its life. Even if we were ready to give up on the future life we had pictured for ourselves, what would happen to the child once we were gone? How would he/she live on? Who would be there to help? What kind of a life would await him/her without us around?

I ended feeling close to what Dawkins meant when he said it would be immoral to bring a child under such conditions when one has a choice.

Thus, we made up our minds to go for the amniocentesis the next day.

Unframed Senses

Latex house paint dripped by means of Trojan latex condoms, ribbed for her pleasure. by Nik Ehm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.      You are free:         to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work         to remix – to adapt the work     Under the following conditions:         attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).         share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
Latex house paint dripped by means of Trojan latex condoms, ribbed for her pleasure.
by Nik Ehm.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
Daily Prompt Frame of Mind: If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?

They were using new paintings, the type that comes out alive AND touches you, affects you personally.

And there was a special exhibition, full of such paintings framed and displayed on walls, it was a first time ever trial.

Such an exhibition had never been tried before due to fears it might cause an overload on the spectators’ perceptive sensors, unaccustomed to such visual stimulation, and lead to a coma.

The first visitors to view the paintings were allowed in with great caution.

At first, the paintings took their breaths away and they had to close their eyes until their heartbeats subsided.

When they opened their eyes, they found themselves surrounded with the depictions on the paintings, living them.

They were enveloped in yellow paint of the prairie, green touches of the flowers, brownish grey of buildings, white bright drops of rain, pink of flushed cheeks and blue of wide skies.

They were exhilarated, taken by the colors, a brand new environment of oily plastic brush strokes that surrounded them all around. They had become part of masterpieces, their existence had taken form in art, they had been transformed to a superior being.

Within the wondrous smiles of each spectator, a few started losing their mesmerized gaze in their trance, doubled down where they were standing and threw up.

A few others showed crippling cramps in their body while the rest felt sickly overwhelmed.

Thus, the first enrobing art exhibition proved to be futile, and was cancelled shortly afterwards.

The audience who have had the chance to experience the enrobing art show later reported that most of their senses had weakened, and could not no longer enjoy tastes, smells, views, colors they used to care for before the show. They added that a major gap had opened in their senses distancing them from stimulants that could invoke happiness, pleasure, excitement or any other emotion.

Following the reports, people were once again left to their own devices to observe their surroundings, appreciate their skills and enjoy their existence.

Leftover

Patten Elf Dan Fishes for the Lobster Man by Matt Corrigan This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.      You are free:         to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
Patten Elf Dan Fishes for the Lobster Man by Matt Corrigan
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
Writing Challenge: Leftovers
For this week’s writing challenge, shake the dust off something — a clothing item, a post draft, a toy — you haven’t touched in ages, but can’t bring yourself to throw away.

I have this friend I love very much, but sometimes while talking to him, I feel like I am crashing into a wall and cannot advance any further, so I switch to “yeah”, “sure” whether I agree with him or not just to keep the friendship rolling.

But I am not rolling anymore, and am stuck a great distance away, back in my solitude, in between the little fences I remember having built as a young girl.

It is surprising to still find them there, that they have not disappeared after such a very long time, and sad that I should need them after so many birthdays…

( I think hormones are making me a little melancholic)

Probably because I come from a third world country, I am not civilized enough to understand any of this… (Part 2)

The "Watch" by Gerald Murphy This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.      You are free:         to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work.
The “Watch”
by Gerald Murphy
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work.

So where was I? Oh yes! I was climbing up the ladder of disappointments, rage and tears in the bureaucratical artifacts making life ever so difficult here in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Technology…

Surprised? I was…

I had to register for the TEFAQ, the French exam to prove that I am Francophone enough to live here in Quebec. Well, TEFAQ is sort of the French equivalent of TOEFL… Have you ever registered for TOEFL? You can do everything, I MEAN everything ONLINE from one particular website, without having to search all the different establishments that may be giving the exam, while registering. For TEFAQ, I had to google search all establishments giving the exam, plus the prices were different (how is that even possible?) and figure out how to get to their online registration site. Well, most did not have one, or dates or something was missing! Except for McGill! Thank you McGill, for figuring out the internet.

Plus, I have registered for a few classes and applied for CSQ, the first step of permanent residence and am paying rent on a regular basis in Montreal. I have undertaken similar endeavors in different countries, it was never a big deal. I have used the internet to make my payments for exams in Turkey, for work permit and rent in Australia, to register for a number of things here and there. It was always simple, use your credit card, and voila! You do not have to do anything else! Worst case scenario had always been depositing the amount into a specified bank account and sending the proof of payment, which, needless to say, can also be done online!

But here, for some reason, old school checks are a favorite. You have to send a check for course registrations, rent (!) payments, governmental applications (which LOVE payments) and anything else you can think of!

And of course, if anything goes wrong in the mail, or if the recipients happen to lose that little piece of paper representing a certain fraction of your account balance, you are the one to be blamed and miss your chance for whatever you were sending your money for.

Now, here is another little experience my friend and I had: He won tickets for the Just for Laughs festival here in Montreal through the company we work for and since I am such a great friend, he picked me as his plus one. It is a big deal! He already has tickets that have been paid for, right? All we have to do is choose the shows we want to see and everything will be fine. That should not be so hard once you have your registration ID number, right? A very easy task that can be done online; time and nerve saving!

Instead of a huge web address to get the easy task done, they have inserted a huge phone number, so that we can easily reserve places for the shows we want to see.

I called them. On the phone, I learned that most shows we wanted to pick were already sold out. So making a representative wait for our decision, still on the phone, with major difficulty, we picked the shows and paid for the delivery of the tickets.

Oh nothing is ever free in Canada! Not even a show ticket you may have won!

Then we waited… Nothing, no mail, no ticket, no e-mail for a month…

So we decided to call them… No answer…

Now my friend has given up on the show and does not care for any other prizes that might take a toll on his time and energy. Side effect, I am not being taken to a comedy show…

In an era when plane tickets can be bought online and printed, when tiny codes are used as entrance tickets or even as currency, why is it so hard to make online registration and payment available?

But I still love you Canada. It is this naive side of you that makes you so attractive, and safe, as I like to believe.

Not quite finished, yet. More to come: Health and Banking…

Probably because I come from a third world country, I am not civilized enough to understand any of this…

The Omnibus by Honore Daumier This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
The Omnibus
by Honore Daumier
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

“What?! You have to be joking! If any one of these happened here, there would be a lot of suing and TV shows to follow!’

This was my mother’s reaction earlier today to my one hour ranting about things that carry only the vital aspects of life to somewhere between difficult and almost impossible here in Montreal, Canada.

I love Montreal, and I can see why it is supposed to be civilized. I am not getting harassed at all, there is a greater equality between man and woman, I can express freely that I am an atheist without getting reprimanded for it, I can bike almost wherever I want and most drivers are respectful and patient, when anything goes wrong, I no longer wait for a fight to break up but smile only to be responded by an understanding gesture and a warm approach by people I have never seen before.

Yes, these are reasons why do not want to leave this city.

However, when it comes to vital aspects about life, such as medical situations, banking, taxes or even intercity transportation, I am more homesick than ever!

Here are my experiences in ascending order of importance:

Phone/Internet:

Phone: When I got my first mobile phone line here, with Chat-r to be precise, I waited for 1 hour!!! STANDING! Another woman with her kid, waited at least 1,5 hours, if not more. In Turkey, it takes 15 minutes, max.

Internet: My husband applied for an internet connection with a little known internet provider. They did their end fairly quickly, but because all connections are dependent on a few huge companies, he had to wait for BELL to pass by and get him a line for the internet to function through, in the simplest terms. Around the same time, a friend of mine who had been assigned to a tiny village in the south east of Turkey, a part of the country considered to be not quite developed, applied for her internet connection with of course a Turkish provider.

2 weeks later, she had already been updating her facebook status and doing skype calls, while I could reach my husband only when he went to St Hubert, the fried chicken shop, and managed to connect to gtalk. It took Bell about 4 weeks to do the job with one appointment rescheduling.

One more tiny addition, if you opt for something ultra technological, like internet through a cable connection (wow!) it might take you a few months, as was the case with my colleagues.

Transportation, namely Greyhound:

So the people who work with Greyhound have learned one sentence by heart: First come, first served.

I have had to use Greyhound on two trips, on my way to Ottawa and New York.

Coming back from Ottawa, naturally like a lot of people who wish to be seated as they please together with their company, we made it there about 30 minutes earlier, which is a needless waste of time, but who am I to talk, I come from a third world country, right?

Just as we left the garage, the driver noticed that a window was open and would not close. The first thing he did was to blame the passenger sitting there, the exact reason why I had chosen not to sit there. Thus, we went back into the garage and the bus was changed.

Yet, this time, rather than first come first served, it was front seats first served, because all the people sitting in the first rows were the first to get off and thus the first to get on the new bus and sit wherever they pleased, leaving a woman with her baby and toddler to be seated on seats quite far off from each other.

Of course she got mad. She had arrived there 1,5 hours earlier, just so that she would not have to encounter such a splendid challenge to stimulate the ride and wanted to get off the bus. Some people had to give their seats and problem was solved (!).

Greyhound experience number two unraveled thusly: On our way to New York, the problem started before we got on the bus, even before I got the feeling we were being carried to a high security prison with a plastic indoor door to prevent us from approaching the door to reach for our freedom unless it was unlocked from the outside by the guard/driver who kept calling us folks, but rather treated us like a flock.

We had arrived 1 hour before the departure and got to waiting. While waiting, unless you are one of the first 5 people to be in line, if you get too tired, you can always sit on the floor, please, by all means. Make yourself at home. As we got closer to the gate to get on the bus, I realized there were two busses, and was relieved that we would get proper seats no matter what, since we had been there much before many others. I got on the first bus with my husband, but there were no seats left, except for two aisle seats, one next to a very large scary man, and two seats that would allow us to be together for the next 8 hours, but they were all the way in the front and contained large suitcases. I figured they had been reserved for the driver.

So since we had arrived there much earlier than a lot of people getting on the second bus, I asked to be seated in the second one. But there was this harsh answer that you get from people “in control”, with an undertone reminding how worthless I am. So, not to show how uncivilized I was, I kept quiet and headed towards the separate seats. You know, with one that had the pretty present of a large scary guy, with compliments from greyhound.

However, when a few minutes later, a pretty blond couple wanted to sit together, and the suitcases were removed for their sake, I got mad, as did my husband. The response from the Greyhound guy was: First come first served.

Wow, how could I not think of that?! What a logical and sensible answer and what a problem solving attitude! Our problem persisted until we made it to New York, that is, no special treatment for us. Next time, either I will not be using Greyhound, or there will be a MAJOR scene to follow!

In Turkey, the underdeveloped country, you know where many people still think have camels on the roads, while buying our tickets online, we can see the seats we are buying on the screen, check the type of bus we will be riding in. Thus, even if we arrive 5 minutes before the bus takes off, we know our seat will be safe! And there are ALWAYS free snacks and drinks! Thus, the driver is always kept awake by the in-ride attendant. Oh, did I forget to add? The driver snoozed a few times with his foot on the gas pedal, but we survived.

There will be more…

Fresh Dirt

Women Riding a Donkey by Modesto Teixidor y Torres This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.
Women Riding a Donkey by Modesto Teixidor y Torres
This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.
Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge:
Fifty-Word Inspiration: This week, find inspiration in fifty words. Use a fellow blogger’s response to a previous challenge, “Fifty,” as a springboard for this week’s post.

I saw fresh dirt and made a move to touch it.

I saw the hand underneath and tried to hold it.

I heard his voice and responded.

Then silence followed and I was left with no hand to hold or voice to listen to. He was gone, I was left behind…

Wordcount: 50, pure luck!

My first go at ultra flash fiction.