Thursday, June 14, 2007

The other shoe

Well, I've got to say I didn't see this one coming. Lately I've been ridiculously happy. Like Watson, I've been worried about becoming a painfully boring blogger because really how many times do you want to hear about sunshine and fairy tales and how grand life is? It's nice the first time, but after a while, it does get monotonous. Still, I was having trouble coming up with anything else to say or think, other than "yay"! Yesterday, I sent my best friend an email that included the text "this is the happiest I've ever been in my life". Two minutes later, I opened the next email, which was from my doctor, and found out that the quad screen produced a "positive" result for Down Syndrome.

I know I know. The quad screen is just that. A screening test, with a high rate of false positives. I knew that before I took the test. Still, that didn't stop me from crying all night after getting the results. It didn't help that the doctor didn't include anything specific (or helpful) like actual test results or a risk estimate. I'm a numbers person, dammit! What is she trying to do to me? She just said that I should have amniocentesis, and that there was a high false positive rate, especially for women over 35.

I don't want to have amnio. I really don't. However, I also don't want to worry for five months, or to get bad news on my baby's birthday. I really can't imagine terminating the pregnancy no matter what the result. I'm already far too in love with this baby. However, when I consider my life objectively, I do have to admit that a little advance warning of the birth of a disabled child would be helpful. Let's look at the facts:

1) I live in Korea
2) I don't speak Korean
3) My husband also doesn't speak Korean
4) I have very few choices regarding medical care, given that I am limited to English-speaking doctors
5) I have a job that requires frequent international travel, often to remote areas
6) I live thousands of miles away from my family and closest friends.

When I crunch those numbers, I realize that if we are going to have a child with Downs, then we should probably plan to move back to the USA asap, which means looking for new jobs for both of us (and a career change for me), figuring out where we'll live, etc. These are probably not steps that I should be postponing until I'm recovering from a birth, the shock of discovering that the positive wasn't false, and possibly dealing with the baby blues, all while living far away from most of my loved ones.

So, I guess I'm going to have the amnio. Since I'm in Indonesia right now, and the quality of medical care here is, quite frankly, rather sketchy, this means that I'm going to need to fly to Singapore in the next couple of days to have a big needle stuck in my belly.

I'm terrified. Mainly terrified of miscarriage, but also terrified of the results.

(I appreciate supportive comments, but please don't tell me stories about how delightful Down Syndrome kids can be. My next door neighbor growing up had a little girl with Down Syndrome. She was sweet and precious, and the light of her mother's life. I know how special these children are. However, I really don't think that anybody would actually WANT their child to have a major disability, so while I can imagine much worse things, I'm not quite ready to celebrate hearing that my child may have massive life-long medical problems.)


Sarah said...

oh sara, i'm so sorry. first of all (and probably least importantly), i'm totally annoyed that your doctor would do that to you in an email! to me, that one really requires a phone call. i'm glad you at least got the follow up email. and what do i know, maybe email is much more convenient for you. but i would want someone to take the time to talk me through it.

you make a really good case for the amnio. i would be torn about it too. i wish i had something better to say than "you're doing the right thing" but it does seem like the best plan for all the reasons you laid out. and hey, we've been on the slim side of the odds all along, right? why not now when it would actually be a good thing?

Marie-Baguette said...

Sara, I wish I could call you. I know what you are going through. The amnio should not be too painful, and the risks of miscarriages are very very low. Plus I know from experience that Singapore hospitals rule. I am thinking of you. I so wish you did not have to go through all this.

Melissa said...

Oh Sara, I can't imagine what it must feel like to get those test results. I pray that your baby is fine and it turns out to be a false positive! Thank you for the comments on my blog. I really appreciate you reading it!

Hopeful Mother said...

Sara, first I want to say how sorry I am that you have to go through this anguish. I will be praying for you and your baby that everything is fine, and it's just a false positive screen.

Second, I totally agree with your reasoning on the amnio. I think that makes a lot of sense. And I hope that you get some peace of mind from the results.