Perhaps one of the most stressful things a pregnant woman can face is the battery of tests that one is offered if the mother is over a certain age. I didn't foresee this in any meaningful way at all. We've all heard about the higher risks of genetic defect the older you get, but you aren't faced with these risks directly unless a) you're over thirty-three or b) your family has a history of problems. I'm over thirty-three (just squeakin' in over the line) so I was faced with all of the questions I had no idea I was going to have to answer. Namely: do you want genetic testing? Do you know the odds of genetic problems vs. genetic testing? Are you prepared to deal with the results if you find out that you have a child that has a severe disability? Are you ready to weigh the risks of amniocentesis (1 in 200-300 of miscarriage) vs. the risks of genetic defect (1-300 of some genetic problem in my age bracket)? Are you ready to deal with the consequences if something goes wrong in the testing (miscarriage)?
These are possibly the most difficult choices I have ever been faced with. And since I am sitting on the fence in terms of risks (1 in 200-300 for either genetic problems or miscarriage as a result of testing) there was no compelling reason to choose one path over the other. My odds were virtually identical either way.
For the first time in our lives, we were faced with the personal responsibility of a life or death decision. Like, "What if Tiny is a perfectly healthy tot and I miscarry?" That's no picnic, and I find it quite amazing that women my age are faced with these decisions every time they get pregnant. That's a whole lot of stress.
But the decision has been made, thankfully, and now I can continue with my previously scheduled programming. After many ultrasounds, and blood screens to test hormone levels (indicators of certain kinds of genetic problems), I'm saying "amnio be damned." Let Tiny be! Leave him to swim peacefully in his cozy home without some nasty needle invading his space!
It was a grueling decision, playing out over the last few weeks, but as of today I think we're back on track with worrying about more pleasant things.
At least until Tiny asks for the car keys and whether his girlfriend can stay the night. Or tells us he's joining the Rajneeshees.