To Amnio or Not to Amnio?

An agonizing decision

Dana Ultrasound Image-2-Main1.jpg

I sat in the car, crying, looking at our baby’s ultrasound photos and trying to figure out what to do: Should I get the amnio or not? Could I just sit tight and hope for the best, expecting everything to turn out fine? No, I didn’t think so—I’m a total worry wart. I would agonize over it for the entire pregnancy.

My ringing cellphone broke through my mental deliberation. It was Will.
“Hi. I got your message,” he said. “What’s going on?”
I took a big breath, and said: “Well… everything looks good, except for a couple things…”
“Okaaaaaay,” Will waited.
“Umm… well, I have marginal placenta previa, but apparently, as my uterus grows, the placenta will move up and away from my cervix, and it shouldn’t be an issue. If it doesn’t move, I’ll most likely have to have a C-section.”
“Okaaaaay,” Will listened.
“And the other thing…Umm... they said…” I burst into tears, unable to get the words out.
“It’s OK,” Will said. “Take your time.”
“They said the baby has a cyst on the brain.”
Will was quiet on the other end of the call. I searched my own brain for something positive to say—for some of the reassuring parts of the doctor’s “Waaah Waaah Waaah Waaah” speech that I’d vaguely absorbed from the end of some faraway tunnel:
“Umm… the doctor said that some people in the medical community consider it a “normal variant” in brain development – like freckles – some people have them and some people don’t. And, she said that our baby didn’t have any of the other markers for chromosomal problems, like clenched fists, or a heart defect, or a club foot. But, she also said that these cysts are sometimes linked to genetic abnormalities, and that we could do an amnio today to rule that out.”
“What do you think we should do?” Will asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to do the amnio.” I was terrified of the idea--not just of that long needle, but also of invading our baby’s amniotic sac and potentially introducing bacteria and other problems, which just seemed altogether wrong to me.
“I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to relax for the rest of the pregnancy—that I’ll think about the worst case scenario the entire time. And, if our baby did have Trisomy 18—if our baby was going to be stillborn, or die shortly after birth, I think I’d need to mentally prepare myself for that.”
We talked it over for a few minutes, and then ultimately decided to do the amnio.
“I’m going to get in the car and come out there right now,” Will said.
“’t.” I replied. “It’s OK.” I knew that just the sight of Will’s face would make me burst into sobs, and that it would be better just to go back in on my own.
I went back up to the office to tell the receptionist that I would like to do the amnio, afterall. She sent me back to the waiting room for a while, where I sat reorganizing my purse, staring at the walls, inspecting my fingernails, and tapping my feet anxiously until finally they called me in.
The amnio turned out to be not as bad as I’d imagined. I had to close my eyes and look away, but it was over pretty quickly. The hardest part would be yet to come—waiting for the results.
I left the ultrasound room, got in the elevator, and pushed the button for the main floor, looking at my feet the whole way down. When the doors parted, I looked up and saw Will, standing there, like some scene from Grey’s Anatomy, waiting for me.
Join’s Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she blogs about her third pregnancy.