Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Percentages (A Novel)

For almost a month now, my life has been consumed with percentages. And I hate math.

There is some prenatal testing that is available to women in California, known here as the Triple Screen.

As an old woman at 38, I was highly advised to partake in the Triple Screen, although I will say I was never forced. And I thought to myself, it's just a little blood test, right?

Well, that little blood test has made my life hell ever since.

I got the call on a Wednesday. Even though I didn't get to the phone in time to answer and nothing specific was said in the message, my heart sank because I had been told that I would only be contacted if it was bad news.

I was told that I had crappy PAPP-A levels, which factored in with my age, gave me a 1 in 38 chance of having a baby with a chromosomal defect.


No need to tell me now that percentage-wise, 1 in 38 isn't horrifically bad. I didn't think of it that way. All I could think of was 38 women standing in a room, and one of them having horrible, horrible luck. Possibly me.

The odds seemed really, really crappy.

Then Hubba-hubba broke out a calculator and told me that 1 in 38 meant a 2.6 percent chance of an abnormality. Before the blood test, my odds had been 1 in 146. Not exactly encouraging.

So off I go to become consumed with finding out as much information as I can about low PAPP-A levels and the effects of it on pregnancy, including complications and chromosomal abnormalities.

Me, the person who loathes math with all of her being, suddenly became obsessed with odds, percentages, and numbers.

I had an amniocentesis scheduled because I couldn't stand not knowing, even though I hadn't finished the last part of the Triple Screen. I knew that the accuracy rating was only 75% (see, one of the many percentages I have memorized!) but I was seriously getting messed up. What if my baby had something wrong? How would I prepare? What exactly would I do? What would this mean for our family? And on and on and on... There was also the fact that I had a much higher chance for miscarrying before the 24th week, which didn't make me feel better, either.

The day before I was scheduled for the amnio, I had some light bleeding, which I have had off and on throughout this pregnancy. Another stressor, let me tell you. I did some quick research, and found that if I were to do the amnio after my history of recent bleeding, I would be putting myself at a higher risk for complications after the amnio.

After talking with my doctor, we decided not to proceed with the amnio, but to do a Level II ultrasound, where the doctor takes many detailed measurements of the fetus to see if there are any so-called "soft markers" for chromosomal abnormalities.

She found not one.

To say I felt better was an understatement, but then did more research and found that the lack of soft markers didn't necessarily mean a lack of chromosomal abnormality. So back to being anxious I went.

I also completed the last part of the Triple Screen that day, and was again told that I would be contacted if something came out funky.

I got the call today. I couldn't bring myself to answer the phone and instead sat there, cursing as I heard her leave a number to call her back.

Except, even though one of my levels was off, a key one was normal, and my odds were suddenly at 1 in 200 instead of 1 in 38. The odds of accuracy are now at 90%.

Call me optimistic, but I'll take a .5% chance over 2.6% any day of the week.


Hope said...

oh, gina, I wish I could give you a hug.... pregancy is crazy making anyway, and then when you get caught up in all the things that could go wrong, it can be so scary. Wish there were words of comfort that I could send your way...instead, i promise to keep you in my prayers..

Liz said...

Wow, but have you ever been under some stress! I'm no math whiz, but the way you put it, it sounds like your odds are good. Just try to keep that stress down (I know, easier said than done) and I'll send all the good vibes I can muster your way.

Anvilcloud said...

My head hurts now, but I think I should be cheering. Right? :)

Suzanne said...

Oh, how stressful this must be. I had a similar scare when I was pregnant with Sean. Like you, I declined the amnio and had a level II ultrasound. It all turned out okay, but the waiting between the results of the triple screen and the ultrasound just about did me in.

I'll continue to keep you in my thoughts -- here's hoping the odds continue to be good.

Awesome Mom said...

That is one reason I was glad I did not know about Evan's heart defect in advance, I was able to have a nice quiet pregnancy with out obsessing. The end result was the same and it would have been shocking no matter when I found out. I am glad that things are looking pretty good for your little one (well other than having you for a mom, lol I kid!)

Atasha said...

You'll continue to be in my thoughts but your odds sound pretty good.
Take Care

Kelley said...

and the baby has a 100% chance of being Fabulous! And awesome.

Just like you.


Heather Plett said...

Oh dear. My thoughts are with you. I think, out of 4 pregnancies, I only had one relatively stress free one in which there was no bleeding, no wonky test results, and no risks because of my incompetent cervix. I hope the rest of your pregnancy can be relatively peaceful.

Autumn's Mom said...

I'm sorry this has been so stressful for you G. Thinking of you and sending good vibes down to ya. xoxo

dgm said...

Oh, I'm sorry! I've been there with the numbers game as well. It's brutal on the emotions. Sounds like things are looking up, though! Here's a hug: [*]

I just remembered that you and Mr. P had bit parts in my dream last night. For some reason, you had dressed the poor fellow in shorts, knee socks, penny loafers, and a sensible button-down shirt.

Patois said...

I love math when it has a happy ending. I like them odds, too!

chichimama said...

Sending hugs and good karma your way. Glad the numbers changed in your favor, will continue to keep my fingers crossed for you!!!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

So frustrating and scary, and yet your baby just grows and is fine in there, I'm sure.

We had a false positive on one of these screenings, and it was HORRIBLE. My uncle had downs, and my family wasn't equipped to handle it, emotionally, because back then (early 40s) they took the baby away and institutionalized them. They were home with their family for the first two years, then taken away. To say that it was difficult on my Grandmother is an understatement to the nth degree (another math term!).
Needless to say, it was emotionally devastating to hear that my baby might have this same problem. Clearly, she didn't. She came out fine and healthy and strong. Yours will, too.

I'm glad the numbers are looking up for a less stressful pregnancy. :)