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Birth Stories


Stories of Birth, Pregnancy, and Newborns

Birth ButterflyThe Human Pincushion

A prenatal testing experience
By Laurel Avery

One thing they neglect to tell you when you begin your prenatal visits is that you will become a human pincushion. They will ask for a sample of your blood more often than a vampire going on a bender.

I got used to the needle relatively quickly. Luckily I’m not the kind to faint at the sight of blood, though I don’t relish watching while they do it. Nevertheless, the thought of a needle the size of a pile driver piercing my abdomen made me more than a little nervous.

Being an older mother, I was counseled on the tests available to check for genetic abnormalities. There is no history either in my family or in my partner’s of genetic problems, but the age factor made it enough of a risk for us to want to get the tests done.

There was something like a 1 in 200 chance of the baby having a genetic abnormality at my age, which sounds less than completely reassuring, but when it is looked at a different way, there is a 99.5 percent chance that the baby will be born perfectly healthy. Still, we did not feel prepared for the challenges that come with raising a child with genetic abnormalities, so chose to have an amniocentesis.

I showed up at the appointment feeling more than a little nervous, but was somewhat reassured by what I had read of other women’s experiences. Most had found it to be slightly uncomfortable, but not really painful. They described having feelings of cramping more than anything, which they said only lasted a day or so.

What I was most looking forward to was seeing whether we were going to have a boy or girl. My intuition told me it was a boy, but I was hoping to see the evidence for myself.

As they prepared everything I noticed a large monitor mounted to the wall in front of me where I could watch everything the doctor was seeing. It looked like a big flat-screen TV, the kind they have in sports bars. All that was missing was the beer, chips, and a bunch of burly guys to cheer for the home team! The doctor squirted some goop on my stomach (boy, was that cold!) and moved what looked like a bar of soap over my stomach.

There is nothing quite like seeing the first images of your child, even if it is like looking at them through the water in a snow globe. I was rendered speechless and tears came to my eyes looking at this little creature inside me. The doctor asked if I wanted a boy or girl, and of course I said I didn’t care as long as it was healthy, though I thought it was a boy. Well, so much for my intuition. From what he could see, it was a girl.

With the ultrasound they located the largest section of fluid and aimed for that to take their sample. Luckily the baby was not moving excessively, so wasn’t likely to run into the needle. The needle felt only as bad as a slight pin prick (I’ve had blood taken from my arm that was more painful), then a bit of pressure as it entered the uterus. It was fascinating to watch it all on the monitor. The actual taking of the fluid sample took only about 30 seconds in total, then it was over and they were telling me I could get dressed.

They did warn me I could have some slight cramping and spotting and that I should rest completely for 48 hours. Basically, I was to be a princess for two days with my feet up and other people bringing me food and drink. I was lucky and did not experience any cramping or spotting, and I enjoyed having an added excuse to rest!

We got the results in about a week and were thrilled to find that all genetic tests were normal. Now I just had to get my mind around the fact that I was having a girl!

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