photo by memekode
“You tested positive for Downs Syndrome.”
Everything kinda went hazy. The nurse went on talking about moving up my next ultrasound, the one normally scheduled for about 25 weeks to around 19 weeks. Numbly, I agreed. But wait – I had questions. Why the ultrasound?
They can take measurements of the baby, look for benchmarks, she explained to me. Oh. Okay. I still felt like I wasn’t getting it. But I acted as though I understood everything she was telling me. As soon as she got off the phone, I sat down and finished my lunch. Keep it together, I kept telling myself. You’re at a Wendy’s for goodness sake! You can’t fall apart here.
I couldn’t contact Trey because he was working. I was on my own until he called me. Sorry, people, but the details of the next few days were a little fuzzy, I hope you understand. It was like I was in a fog. I remember calling a dear friend of mine back in NC who has a son with Downs. They have a daughter, too, a year younger than Monkey, without Downs, so I wanted to know what happened.
I had a long conversation with them, first with Diane, then with Chris, and they even offered to give me some of their frequent flyer miles to bring me to Duke University. Have I mentioned that I have really good friends? Chris, I believe it was, told me that the odds of the DS part of the test being correct vs. incorrect are about the same as flipping a coin. The other parts of the test, for the more serious, life-threatening diseases are much more accurate which is why they still do the tests. The same thing had happened with their daughter. Her test had come back positive for DS, too, but she doesn’t have it.
I can’t speak for Trey. He was working and in school and was focusing on that. Internalizing, compartmentalizing the struggle with whether or not our son had DS. I was up late at night. I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and get online and research. I looked at reports, published ultrasound pictures. I learned about measuring the nuchal fold and the lengths of the femur bones and something to do with the nose.
Finally the day came for the next ultrasound. Trey came with me; Monkey was at preschool. The ultrasound technician was very nice and we chatted. I remember he was a traveler, meaning he would work at a location for a few months to cover an open position, then move on. At the time, my mom was, too, so we talked about some of the places he has worked. I watched the images flicker on the screen. The black, white and grey images that had become my late-night obsession. The magic of an ultrasound is lost when you’re trying to verify a genetic disease.
The only thing the ultrasound could confirm was that the fetus was a little smaller than my gestational time showed and that the fetus was most likely a boy. The tech even showed us the “turtle” sign.
So, at 19 weeks, we still don’t know if he has DS or not. The only way now to confirm is to do an amniocentesis or wait 8 more weeks and do another ultrasound. There was no way anyone was sticking a needle in my belly, so we waited.
And my blood pressure started creeping up.