Week 16: Prenatal Testing

My first ultrasound and screening for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.


In just four more weeks, I'll already be halfway through my pregnancy. I can't believe it. I mentioned in an earlier blog that time seemed to be going pretty slowly, and in a way, it still feels that way (waiting for the belly to pop!). But realistically, it is going by just as fast as everyone said it would.

I have been journaling in The Belly Book: A Nine-Month Journal for You and Your Growing Belly, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I love having a journal dedicated specifically to the experience of pregnancy (the last chapter is about baby's birth), and this one is written in a fun, humorous style. My favorite question so far: Number of days in a row you wore the same heinous pair of stretch pants: . And, on a recent visit to my hometown in Virginia, one of my oldest friends, Ann-Marie, gave me a beautiful journal/scrapbook for baby's first year, which includes a short pregnancy chapter at the beginning.

    The big news since my week 12 blog is the experience of the ultrasound and blood test for the Sequential Screen, an initial screening for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. I went in at what I thought was the beginning of 14 weeks for the test. The ultrasound was first, and the technician found that, based on the baby's measurements, I am actually about 10 days farther along than they originally thought. (New estimated due date: September 28 instead of October 8). That meant I was too far along to do the Sequential Screen; however, the ultrasound itself was very informative.

    So far, so good: We've got a brain, a good heartbeat, two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet, one head and a good looking spinal cord. We also have...a penis! Yep, it's a boy. I just knew it would be a girl; I felt it in my bones for years before I ever became pregnant. Boy, was I wrong (pun intended). I am just as ecstatic, even though it means I will be surrounded by boys at every turn—James, his son Anwynn, and now our son. Time with my girl friends and other moms will become even more treasured.

    In place of the blood test for the Sequential Screen, the genetic counselor offered me a much newer non-invasive test called Verifi (tests for trisomy 13, 18 and 21), which she said has been on the market for about a year and is not covered by most insurances yet. However, the results are more accurate than the Sequential Screen, and it can also confirm the baby's gender 100 percent. I am still waiting for the results, which take 10 days to two weeks.

    Now that I'm into the second trimester, the frequency of my appointments is picking up, and soon I'll be joining group prenatal care at the hospital where I plan to deliver. I have the option of having individual midwife appointments (which last about 40 minutes), but the group option appeals to me because I'll meet several women in the same stage of pregnancy, and the two-hour sessions include a different pregnancy discussion each time with two midwives. At the beginning of each meeting, participants are assessed by a midwife behind a privacy cubicle, and if an individual appointment needs to be scheduled, it can be. So I'm not missing out on anything, and I hope to begin forming some new mommy friendships while learning about birthing options, relaxation techniques and more.

    Physically, I am happy to report that I am still feeling great. The first trimester came and went with minimal nausea, no morning sickness and just a small increase in fatigue. I am still in my one-size up jeans that I bought a few weeks ago; not ready for maternity pants just yet, although my belly is very, very poochy. I haven't had to upsize bras yet, although I can tell that my breasts are getting bigger, and they are definitely tender. I'm not sure exactly how much weight I've gained, but people who I don't see on a regular basis are still unable to tell immediately that I'm pregnant. I'm looking forward to the pop.