The Next Hurdles (aka Stepping away from the Placenta)

November 13-15, 2012

I was 11 weeks pregnant. I still had two weeks left in my first trimester, but I had managed to get to this point without much fatigue or any morning sickness. (The latter was especially ironic since I had thrown up almost every day in August from my neurological conditions when I wasn’t pregnant!)

I had the Counsyl blood test and sighed in relief upon hearing that Little Bit tested negative for cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and 100 other genetic diseases.

The next hurdle to jump over was chorionic villus sampling, also known as CVS testing. That test could rule out Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.

Why was I getting this test, rather than waiting four-six weeks for the more popular amniocentesis?

Well, at my age, I had a 2.2% chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. I wanted to have as much information as I could as early as possible in my pregnancy.

Upon arriving at Georgetown University Hospital, the fellow performed a sonogram before the procedure started. The fetus measured at the right size for 11 weeks and still had a strong heart beat.

The CVS test involves inserting a catheter through the cervix and removing some of the placenta. As the head of the OB department tried to begin the procedure, she had trouble moving the instrument inside me because Little Bit was blocking the entrance. I watched the monitor and saw that the fetus wasn’t budging no matter how much the doctor poked and prodded.

I chuckled to myself and thought, “That’s my stubborn kid in there.”

The doctor tried to go around the left side, but to no avail.

“If we can’t get a sample from the right side, we might have to go through your abdomen,” the doctor said.

I breathed deeply and responded, “I hope it works then.”

Thankfully, it did, and the doctor obtained the necessary cells from the right side. For those who were wondering, I didn’t find the procedure to be painful. It is uncomfortable, though, because you need to have a very full bladder for the entire time. (In my case, that was almost an hour.)

As I got up from the table, the doctor approached us with a full petri dish.

“Look what a great sample we got from your placenta!”

The Man stepped back, and I looked at the doctor with shock.

“We don’t need to see that!” I exclaimed.

“But, it’s a beautiful piece,” she informed us.

“Great! Then go do with it what you need to, but we don’t want to look at it.”

My expression and tone must have convinced the doctor that we really didn’t need to bond with my placenta. She headed off to the lab with the sample.

Upon her return, she instructed me to take it very easy for the next four days to reduce the risk of any complications. (There's a 1% chance of a miscarriage from the procedure.) There was mild cramping for the first 24 hours, but that was it. I was told to expect bleeding and not merely spotting, but I had neither. If you’re a woman who is considering the procedure, I highly recommend it, as long as the test will be performed at an experienced medical facility.

What were the results of the CVS test? Did I decide to find out the gender since the results also look at the 46th chromosome?

To be continued…

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