I had my Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound two weeks ago. Basically it's an ultrasound with the best magnification around to measure the translucent space in the tissue in the back of a baby's neck. This measures the likelihood that your baby will be born with a chromosomal disorder.
This picture illustrates where to find the nuchal translucency as well as... other interesting things. (I found it online.)
I should say first that the decision to choose to do a screening was a hard one. I'll be 35 when I have the twins and the risk of a singleton having Down's is 1 in 200. (If you're 45, the risk rises to 1 in 25.) If you want screening so you know the likelihood your baby will turn out healthy, you have two options. One's an amniocentesis and the other is basically a blood screening (with the option to have the Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound). Before you start nodding off reading this, I'll cut to the chase. While more accurate, the amnio has a chance of 1 in 200 in causing a miscarriage, and because of that the amnio wasn't the right decision for me.
So that left the blood screening. Kaiser sends all its 35+ moms to a Genetics class that goes over the screening options. Going into the class I was pretty sure I wanted to do the blood screening, but then I learned that I would receive a positive result on a screening if there was even a 1 in 100 chance of a disorder. So even with a positive result the babies would still probably be healthy, but with a 16% rate of getting a positive result for twins, I worried that a positive result would torment me throughout the pregnancy. A friend of mine found out his daughter had a 1 in 10 chance of having Down's during his wife's pregnancy, and it was a very stressful time for them. (Thankfully his daughter was born healthy.)
So I had the ultrasound and while the technician was in the other room with the doctor going over the results, I got a call from my old friend Justin and revealed I was pregnant. ("How are you doing?" "Well, I'm getting an ultrasound on my twins right now...")
The technician came back with my results from the ultrasound and an earlier blood test and said that all the tests were negative and that the babies looked healthy. I was so relieved I started bawling. I had been really, really nervous. The odds of one of the babies having Down's Syndrome is now 1 in 3,600 and 1 in 86,000 for Trisomy 18 (the other chromosomal disorder which is much rarer). I still have a second blood test later this month so I'm not totally out of the clear. (That 1 in 3,600 is still a little scary but much, much less scary than 1 in 200.)
I cried again when I called Mark and told him, and a few hours later I thought it was out of my system and safe to tell my co-worker, Bing, but then I started crying again. When I was a kid I would ask my mom if she wanted a boy or a girl when she was pregnant with me. She would say, "It didn't matter to me - I just wanted a healthy baby." I thought it was a lame answer back then, but now I totally understand.
Okay, no more long sappy posts for awhile.