Friday, January 3, 2014

To Test or Not to Test. That is the Question

Okay folks.  I'm officially at 21 weeks in this pregnancy.  I've never been overly nervous in pregnancies before, but this time I feel a little more apprehensive.

Here's why.  I've sort-of become brainwashed by the "Oh no you're over 35 and at risk for a gazillion things to go wrong" mentality.  Even the official names the medical community uses are (although slightly offensive and funny) kind of alarmist.

The nicer phrase used is:  Advanced Maternal Age.  That at least sounds a little positive.  Advanced is better than beginner, right?

The more ridiculous phrase is:  Geriatric Pregnancy.  Oh dear heavens, bring me my walker and bifocals right now.  I can't help imagining a very special Golden Girls episode with this title.

If I had more ambition, I'd Photoshop myself in this picture.

Another title I'll acquired in this pregnancy:  Grand Multipara.   That sounds more impressive and respectful.  This is the medical definition of a woman who has delivered five or more children who were over 20 weeks at delivery.  Unfortunately, some doctors consider this "high risk".  Fortunately some other doctors only consider it "higher risk", and those are the doctors I am going to listen to.

And to top it all off, I've got three C-sections under my belt (literally) and this next one will also be a C-section.  4 Big ones also qualifies for "high risk", too.

Google maternal mortality, and you'd stay awake at night, too.

Now, none of these factors are actually a surprise to me and I made an informed decision before this pregnancy that there are risks in life and I am willing to accept the risk of this pregnancy.  That doesn't mean I can't have a few freak out sessions.

And that isn't even factoring in the risk to baby.  Yes, I am referring to the increase risk of genetic issues a baby can have once a mother is an ancient 37 like I am.  Which is why it is standard procedure to have genetic testing done in the first trimester.

Every mother has to make the decision to test or not to test.  My choice has never been to test.  The initial tests can be inconclusive, requiring more invasive tests that have a small chance of harming the baby.  That is not a risk I am willing to take.

I can see the appeal of mentally preparing yourself for a child who may face additional challenges in life.  Honestly, I'd rather know ahead of time, too.  But not at the expense of potentially hurting the baby.  And having inconclusive results would drive me crazy the whole pregnancy.

And now that I have been in the special needs adoptive community for years, I sometimes forget that most babies are born without additional medical needs.  Even to old women like me.  

Today I have my ultrasound.  Like every mother, I am praying that my child won't face additional challenges in life.

But my biggest prayer isn't that my child is born "perfectly healthy".  I know there are so very many children who may have medical needs and conditions and are still a tremendous, immeasurable blessing.  My child will be a blessing, no matter what - fearfully and wonderfully made.

So, my prayer is more for my benefit than my child's.  Whatever our child's health status, I pray that God will help me to rise to the challenge of raising this blessing.  Whether there are physical issues or not.  Whether there are mental issues or not.  Whether the child is temperamental or easy going.  Whether the child is a good sleeper or not.

I am just hoping God will equip me to be the mother this child needs.


Julie said...

You already ARE the mother this baby needs, Kristin!
Even though I was of "advanced maternal age" with Simon, I decided not to have any testing done. I figured it was pointless, since it wasn't going to change anything. Here's hoping that the next 19 weeks pass quickly for you, and that the baby is born completely healthy.

Jennifer P said...

This is beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

How'd it go? Boy? Girl? Litter of puppies?