I had the same specialist doctor for the pregnancies of all three of my girls and for the longest time, I was upset with her.
This is my story ….
I had babies at the ages of 28, 36 and 38 and for the most part, I was pleased with my OB doctor. She was down to earth and easy to talk to. Her office was always busy as she had a large number of patients she saw regularly. In fact, it wasn’t easy to get her as your maternity specialist so I considered myself lucky.
At 28, my first daughter was born by Cesarean section delivery. She didn’t come out the normal way. They had to cut me in order to get her out. It wasn’t her fault either, poor kid. God made her Mommy faulty. Things just didn’t go according to plan and after almost 30 hours in labour, she finally entered the world. All that aside, Big B was born healthy and happy at 7 lbs 13 ounces.
At 36, my second daughter was born by C-section based on the circumstance of the birth of my first baby. Doctors weren’t taking any chances the second time around and I was happy with their decision. They booked me an appointment and I was happy to know my delivery date and what to expect ahead of time. Little B was born healthy at 7 lbs 9 ounces.
At 38, my last daughter was born and again by a scheduled C-Section. Let’s back track now to the fourth month of my pregnancy with little H because this is where my blog post focus really belongs.
Women having babies past the age of 35 are considered at a higher risk for having a baby with Down Syndrome. The medical field takes extra precautions by running you through a variety of tests to check for high risk indicators. The Triple Screen test, which analyzes your blood work and searches for abnormalities, came back normal for me. Shortly after that, I went for an ultra sound scan to date the gestational age of my baby and check to make sure that nothing was unusual with her development so far. After seeing my doctor and getting the okay that all was well with both tests, I went home feeling happy and content.
And then …
the very next day, while teaching my first grade class, the school secretary buzzed my classroom to connect me to my OB who insisted on talking to me immediately over the phone. In a 5 minute phone call, while standing in front of 28 students, my doctor proceeded to tell me that she had overlooked an item on my ultrasound report. My heart instantly began to beat twice as fast and my mouth became dry. I felt like I was growing to throw up.
Apparently, they had found a small black dot on the baby’s heart. A calcium deposit is how it was described and can be seen in 15% of healthy babies as well as in babies who are born with Down Syndrome. I fell silent on the phone and started to slowly slip into shock. At this point in the conversation, I completely shut down and as much as I tried to listen further to what my doctor was saying, I don’t remember much except for the words … Down Syndrome.
This new finding, the calcium spec on the baby’s heart, had to be recalculated into my risk score. My new score now put me at a higher risk for having a baby with DS. Based on this new info, the doctor had a legal obligation to offer me Amniocentesis testing. A test designed to test for abnormalities, especially those found in babies with DS. Still in shock and scared, I barely answered my doctor with a yes. I tried my best to hold back tears as the doctor continued to tell me that there was a greater chance of me miscarrying my baby after an Amniocentesis test than there was a chance of me having a baby with Downs. Legally speaking, she had to offer me the option find out either way. Confused beyond absolute belief, I agreed to see a Geneticist and have the Amniocentesis test. Doctor said fine and then hung up the phone. I then turned to my students, gave a look to my teacher assistant and then left the room. Our school’s administrator took over my class for the last hour of the day.
After leaving my classroom, I called back my doctor to see if husband and I could see her in person later that day to discuss the ultrasound results in further detail. I just needed to talk to her face to face but she strongly suggested I wait to speak directly to a Geneticist at the hospital. I cannot think of any other time in my life when I was more furious with a person like I was at that moment with my doctor.
My husband and I spent an entire weekend contemplating the info we had been given and discussing our options. You absolutely never know how you are going to feel in a situation until you’ve personally experienced it yourself. In my heart and as scared as I was, I knew my baby was going to be healthy and normal. I was more scared to test to find out yes or no because of the chances I could lose a perfectly normal baby. After a two hour session with a Geneticist at BC Women’s Hospital, we walked away without the need to test. The little black dot they found on the baby’s heart was a calcium deposit and when found in isolation of any other predictors of Down Syndrome, was not considered cause for concern. If the ultra-sound scan had found 2 or more indicators of DS as well as the black dot on the heart, the chances of us having a Downs baby would increase significantly. Everything else on our baby’s ultra-sound scan proved to be normal. We refused the Amniocentesis testing and went home.
I’d be lying today if I said I didn’t spend the rest of my pregnancy worrying about the day of delivery.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at my baby the minute she was born to check and make sure she looked normal.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry that something might not be right with her in the first year of her life.
What I can tell you is that I don’t think I could have gone through aborting the baby had an Amnio test told me my baby would be born with Down Syndrome.
I have finally forgiven my doctor for the poor way she handled the entire situation. Over the phone? In five minutes? A weekend of hell for husband and I until we got in to talk to a geneticist. Even the geneticist we met with didn’t understand why we were there.
You just don’t do that to someone.