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.