It was a very normal day at work when one of my contacts went behind my eye...yuck. Robin, my co-teacher at the time helped guide me on how to get the little piece of glass out from its uncomfortable position. With a little effort and watery eye, the contact was removed. For a brief amount of time I had only one contact it and it made me slightly nauseous. Robin joked that I might be pregnant and kindly offered to get me a ginger ale. Adam does not believe me (probably noone else does either), but the night before I had a dream that we were on vacation and were up at the bar getting a drink when a man put his hand on my belly and said congratulations...then I woke up. I had forgotten about the dream until my brief nausea occurred and at the end of the day went to the store to pick up a pregnancy test...just for kicks. I could not believe my eyes when I saw those two little lines that told us that our worlds were going to change forever. I placed the pregnancy test on the counter in a spot where I was sure Adam would see it and became so anxious for Adam to come home and share the news with him.
A few hours later, Adam arrived home, walked right past the counter...was slightly annoyed because I wanted him to go with me to pick up a package at UPS (in a not-so-nice part of Baltimore) and I kept staring at him and trying to get him to look at the counter. Finally, he looked at the counter and we held each other and expressed our excitement to one another, seeing visions of what the pregnancy and baby would be like.
My OB scheduled us for a nuchal translucency screening. It would be our first ultrasound and we were beyond excited. The technician clicked away at the screen as we sat mesmerized at the images of our developing baby on the screen. There was the heart, beating quickly in the chest...feet...hands...profile shots... Then the technician left and brought in the doctor. The measurement for the skin on the back of his neck was high-normal...a physical sign of the possibility of Down Syndrome (or another trisomy...where the baby gets an extra chromosome). I remember swallowing back tears and hating this woman who ruined what was suppose to be such a memorable and exciting experience as we were shuttled to another room to give a blood sample that would look for protein levels that would in turn give us a ratio that would predict the odds of having a baby with Down Syndrome. I held back tears through the blood work, walking back to my car with Adam, and when I was safe in my car could not hold them back any longer. I remember calling my sister and parents who assured me that it would be fine and that the baby would be okay.
I don't remember how long the blood work took, but I do remember it was a Friday and I was right around 12 weeks pregnant. We had told immediate family and some close friends about our pregnancy, and were finally ready to announce it to co-workers and other family and friends. I received the call at work. Robin kindly watched my class while I took the call that would rock my world. The baby had less than a 1 in 5 chance of having Down syndrome. All I could remember thinking was how this could happen. I'm a Biology teacher and we always talk about how this is more common in older woman...I was only 29...this couldn't be possible. The doctor wanted us to consider get a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) but it would have to happen ASAP or wait to get an amino done later. Somehow I made it through that discussion and hung up the phone, hiding in the office until that final bell rang so I wouldn't have to face any teenager. The bell rang and I walked back to my classroom where I told Robin the news in between tears and struggled breath. She took a piece of paper and wrote 4 in 5 chance of not having Down syndrome. 80% chance everything would be fine...
I believe I called Adam at work...I couldn't wait for him to get home. I cried all the way home...cried as I called my sister...cried as I called my mother. I was suppose to go out to dinner with a group of my girlfriends where I would get to officially announce our pregnancy to those that we hadn't had a chance to tell since we wanted to tell people in person. I didn't know how I would go to dinner and be able to enjoy myself and not dwell on what felt like a death sentence. I called Jenn and told her that I wasn't going to be able to make it and asked her to tell the others what happened. She, like everyone else, assured me that that baby would be just fine...
Adam and I spent the evening talking, being sad, and discussing what would happen if the baby would have Down syndrome. I felt ashamed...that I had let Adam down...that I wasn't going to give him a "normal" child. Visions of the baby that I wouldn't have haunted me... Being a teacher and watching how cruel some teenagers could be made me sob with worry about how others would perceive our child. Would he have friends? Would he play sports? Would he be able to communicate with us? How would I tell people? All the unknowns terrified me as I mourned the loss of the baby that I thought we would have. Then the guilt of wanting that "normal" child would set in. The next day was Father's Day. We were suppose to go to my in-laws to spend time with family and I just couldn't get out of bed so Adam went without me. I couldn't escape my mind and spent the day crying into my pillow. By the end of the weekend we had made a decision...no CVS for us...it felt too rushed. It was never once an option to terminate... and we initially had said that we wouldn't do an amino since it wouldn't change anything for us...but then those numbers were given to us and we just had to know for sure. We did research... I asked questions of the doctors... how many amnios do they do each year? What is the rate of miscarriage due to the amnio? After all was said and done, we opted to get the amnio done the week before we left for a 2-week vacation in the Outer Banks.
Prior to the amnio, we had an ultrasound to locate the best spot to insert the needle. They asked us if we wanted to know the sex of the baby and shared with us that we would be having a beautiful baby boy! I was so excited that Adam would have a son. I've watched the connection and bonding that Adam and his brothers have with their own father and wanted that for him as well. Such excitement on top of such an intimidating procedure...An amnio should give a 100% determination of whether the baby would have Downs...and we would get to find out the sex officially! "Should" being the operative word! They placed that large needle into my belly and pulled back the plunger...and nothing. Pulled the needle back out of my uterus and pushed back in to reposition...and nothing. Took the needle out and got out a new sterile needle. Inserted the needle into my belly and same thing...a repositioning...nothing... The doctor looked mortified while Adam looked like he was going to lose his mind. This had never happened to her. They called it a dry tap and said we could come back in a few weeks to try again. Something came over me and I just let go...we weren't meant to know yet. For some reason, I was at peace with it. We turned down the option for another amnio but opted for additional screenings (ulrasounds) that would look for physical markers of Down syndrome.
We went on vacation...it couldn't have been better timing. We spent two weeks with family, relaxed and laughed with each other. I left for vacation fitting in my clothes and came back 8 pounds heavier...a