I did the second blood draw for my integrated screening this week. I was a little anxious about getting the results back after finding out I was a cystic fibrosis (CF) carrier in an earlier test. After deciding not to pursue any further blood work in response to the blip with CF, I was looking forward (cross my fingers) to good results from the integrated screening.
So, if you are at the same point in your pregnancy, or reading ahead to see what's in store, the integrated screening is a three-part test checking to see if your child is at risk for Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, and Spina bifida. It involves taking blood in the first and second trimesters along with an ultrasound. Integrated screening is becoming more common in some parts of the country. Where I live, in California, healthcare providers are required to ask patients if they want the test. Doctors in other states, however, may not offer this test. I was pleased to get my results very quickly—and while holding my breath— luckily it was a good report!
To Test … or Not to Test
Remember that it's your decision how much genetic testing you wish to pursue. Depending on your age and ethnic background (which does play a part) you have the right to refuse or continue with testing. My husband and I had made the decision early on that we were so happy to be pregnant that unless we were given some truly horrific news we were having this baby!
To remind you, we worked hard to have this special little package growing inside me—almost three long years to be exact! On my 30th birthday I decided to stop taking the pill and just assumed that would do it, I would be pregnant in a couple of months! It definitely wasn't that simple. For those of you out there who've had some challenges along the way, you know what I'm talking about—thinking you might be pregnant when your period is just a couple of hours late, only to find out you're not. We had tried everything to get pregnant, and I mean everything. Seemed like when my friends wanted to get pregnant it just happened. For us, we were almost to the point of giving up.
My Path to Pregnancy
Now, everyone is going to tell you a different story of "how they got there," the "path to their magical pregnancy moment," and I can't really say what mine was. I had tried everything under the sun, and even started researching adoption. My husband was even ready to stage an intervention to get me off all my "pregnancy elixirs."
I was taking Vitex daily, a natural supplement that helps to regulate female hormones. Along with that I was taking a multivitamin to make sure on the chance I did get pregnant I was ingesting enough folic acid. I had discovered parabens, which are readily used in most beauty products, could affect estrogen production (but this is not widely proven). I decided that I might as well get rid of that too and switched to all-natural makeup. Even though I was taking medication to help regulate my thyroid, I also was using small amounts of progesterone cream when I was feeling pain in my ovaries—which was often—to help ease the pain and maybe help with any of my "infertility" issues. Along with all this, I had been taking my temperature every morning for who knows how long to attempt to chart my basal temperature, creating lovely monthly graphs that were reminiscent of a four-year-old's rendition of a wavy ocean.
I could spend hours dissecting and explaining and chatting and sharing all the crazy-brained pregnancy concepts I was trying. My husband and I had turned sex into a clinical and regimented activity. So basically, nothing was working. I can understand why he was ready to try to convince me that it was time to let go.
So, you can understand how now at 16 weeks pregnant I wasn't about to let some genetic testing and the pressures of making sure that the baby I'm carrying inside me is "perfect" get to me. I had gone through a lot to get here, and there wasn't much that anyone could tell me that would change my mind about enjoying this pregnancy as much as possible!
Waist measurement: 36 inches
Weekly weigh-in: 160 pounds
Pregnancy symptoms: Hello in there! Nothing's happening!
My favorite pregnancy anecdote for the week: This is easy—morning sickness is over! Yeah! Now I just lie awake all night thinking about what is to come!
Pregnancy "first" of the week: A couple of cravings—but no major urges for pickles and ice cream.
Doctor's visit: Genetic testing with the integrated screening.
About the Photo: The above picture of the author was taken during her 16th week of pregnancy by Dean Lipoff.
Read the next installment: week 17