Yesterday Mark and I went to OSF Hospital in Peoria for some genetic testing. There are several different screening tests you can have done that will check for abnormalities in the baby. These are optional and are sometimes excluded by insurance. I was really overwhelmed at first by all the tests...some are invasive, some aren't, some have better results than others, some have false positive results, and of course that nagging concern -what, if anything, can we do if they come back high-risk? After talking to my sister-in-law and sister, we decided to go with the 1st Trimester Screening. This test is a combination of an ultrasound and blood test via a finger poke. It is done between 9 and 13 weeks of pregnancy. This test was covered by our insurance and is non-invasive. I read in one of my books that there are medications that can help with certain concerns they find in the baby, so the test was worth it to us. We arrived at 1:15 and had to check in. Then we met with a nurse who showed us a PowerPoint about the testing process. I knew most of it already (I'm reading about 5 different pregnancy books right now), but it was nice for Mark to get updated. The test doesn't come back saying "your baby will have Down syndrome" or anything certain, it just gives you a risk rate. High risk results warrant more testing. I asked her what the next test would be, because we decided we don't want to do any invasive testing at this point (CVS or amniocentesis). She told us the next test would be the Harmony Prenatal Test. This test combines ultrasound results (where they measure the baby's length crown to rump and check for extra folds of skin on the back of the neck) with a blood draw to assess your risk. This one is more accurate (99% accurate in fact, with false positive rates at 0.1%), is also non-invasive, and was also covered by our insurance. I think the only difference between the 1st Trimester Screening and the Harmony Test is the method of collecting blood (and personally, hook up to my vain any day before you poke my finger!) She said some people skip right to this test if it's covered. We decided to go this route. We figured we'd have to do it if the ultrascreening came back high-risk anyway, so might as well skip a step. We had to sit in that nurse's office for a while waiting for an ultrasound room to open up. I was surprised how nervous Mark was. He looked like he was going to pass out. We talked about how scary the possibilities are, and how heartbreaking it is for some babies and their families. Just talking about our fears seemed to help him out. I was terrified too, but something about having that baby inside me makes me feel braver than I've ever been. I guess my maternal genes are already kicking in. Finally she came in to take me to have my blood drawn. Now, this is something I've had done numerous times in my life. It doesn't bother me at all (give me a strep throat test and it's a different story!) but this one hurt and I bled like crazy! I think it must be because your blood volume increases 40-50% when you're pregnant. My arm is still sore today. But all was quickly forgotten as we went into the ultrasound room. Last time I could barely see baby. This time it was crystal clear! Baby was moving around a lot, it was so neat to watch! It was trying to suck its' thumb, but was going after the 4th finger instead and couldn't get it in its' mouth. Mark asked if everything looked normal, but since the girl performing the ultrasound wasn't a doctor she couldn't tell us. Torture! We were both looking for extra skin on the neck and trying to figure out if it looked like the "normal" baby in the PowerPoint. Impossible to tell, but didn't stop us from trying. What I could tell is that I've never felt as alive as I did seeing that precious baby moving. I know this seems weird, but I was having a hard time believing there was a baby in my stomach that was alive and moving around. It's so much easier to grasp when you see it with your own eyes. Here's our peanut:
**Update: When running the Harmony Test, they did not test for gender even though I requested it. We had to wait until my 19 Week Ultrasound to confirm the sex. So if you have this genetic test done, make sure you remind them to test for the gender (if you want to know of course)!