I’m not generally someone who goes around looking for themes to aspects and experiences in my life, but I’m definitely starting to think that my pregnancy has a distinct theme. That theme is ignorance. This isn’t to say that I’m stupid or unprepared. I’m just having what I am starting to suspect is the experience of every expectant mama, particularly those who are a little older like myself and tend to be among the last of her social group to have kids. I have been around babies and children for years, but when it comes to my own I have no idea what I’m doing. Or what’s going on half of the time.
For starters, the entire early genetic testing has been kind of a disaster. Because I am of what is considered “advanced maternal age” (which is cute terminology for over the age of 35) it was strong suggested that I do the Panorama test. Panorama is one of what is called a non-invasive prenatal test, or NIPT. These tests are newer (Panorama became available in 2013) and examines cell-free fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream to determine risk for certain chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down or Edward’s Syndrome) and can also determine the baby’s sex as early as the first trimester. The idea of not only having some peace of mind, but knowing what my baby was early was pretty tempting. Most insurance companies cover the test. Mine did not (the parent lab for Panorama, Natera, is out of my insurance network) but having some answers early was just enough. I let them do the blood work for the text on my second appointment, at about thirteen weeks.
The test failed. Not enough fetal DNA to test, likely because in addition to being older I’m also a plus size woman. We waited a month and tested again. That’s when ignorance and confusion started to take hold. Now, up to this point I’d had some mixed experience getting my various test results. There is a LOT of blood work involved in pregnancy. I’m still not fully certain of what all they test for, but I kept getting automated calls telling me that my “specimen” was normal. I would have to call to get clarification, play some phone tag, annoy a nurse, then get my answers. I had already been doing this for a few weeks on things when the second Panorama test popped up that they needed more information. What did they need? Good question. No one could tell me. It was like I was magically expected to know. Then they were able to get results and send them to the doctor, but then the doctor’s office claimed they had no results. This went on and on until finally I’m told I’m meeting with a genetic counselor immediately following my anatomy scan.
Anatomy scan went so well. We got to see the baby and find out that it’s a boy! And that everything looked fine, come back in a month for a second scan (a perk of being plus sized and old I guess) then were sent to the counselor. The counselor then proceeded to insist that everything was not fine and that we need to do ANOTHER test because two failed Panorama tests are doom and gloom. The fact that redraw tests don’t always work in plus size mamas seemed lost on her and to be honest the quad screen is a fairly normal test so I decided to do it. The results are apparently in. I got a message about it. And now it’s back to phone tag to find out what the heck is going on with my child (I’m pretty sure he’s fine.)
Medical ignorance. Yep.
I’m pretty solidly certain my son is fine so we decided to tell family and friends at some July 4th celebrations that we are expecting a little boy and what we have chosen to name him. That’s when ignorance part two showed up. Nearly every person we have talked to has asked the same question “so what do you need for the baby?”
Cue the deer-in-headlights face.
I have no damn idea what we need for the baby. We found a great Royals onesie and a shark play suit that I couldn’t resist. We have a few things people have given us. That counts, right? And everyone has an opinion! On everything! I mentioned that I plan to continue to adventure once little man is here and everyone just laughs at me, like “oh silly girl your days of adventure are over!” Really? Because I’m pretty sure I can take a baby on vacation and that it’d make a pretty sweet scrapbook to hand over to him someday to show all the cool stuff we did together. But it’s all left me thinking that I have no idea what I’m doing. Can you just wing it with a baby?
So that’s where I’m at: no clue what’s going on medically, not sure what I even need or if I’m supposed to know what I need, eating as much cake as I can find because right now I want cake. It’s a crazy adventure and right now, I’m not exactly having the most awesome time. My son, though? He’s amazing. I’m pretty excited for him, even if it means I’m ignorant right now.