First let me begin by thanking all of you who’ve congratulated us on our upcoming baby girl. We consider ourselves truly blessed to add a healthy new addition to our happy family. I would like to take the time, though, to share a brief story with anyone who is planning on having a baby, is already pregnant, or knows someone who is.
I went to take a screening test, through a blood sample, called a “quad screening”, or an AFP test. I was never informed that the test was optional. I was simply told I was being sent for a blood test, so of course I went. The test screens for Down’s Syndrome, spida bifida, and neural tube defects.
As it turns out, I received a phone call last week from my doctor’s assistant informing me that my test result was “positive” for carrying a Down’s Syndrome child. She told me that for my age, the results should be a 1 in 270 chance of Down’s, and mine had come back 1 in 92. She proceeded to tell me I could schedule an amnio to confirm, and advised me to go for genetic counseling. Then she told me I could wait until my 20 week ultrasound to see any abnormalities, but that I should call the hospital as soon as possible to decide what to do.
This news completely devastated me. I was inconsolable. All I heard was “positive result” and a bunch of numbers afterward that were “abnormal”. No matter what, this child was mine and my husband’s, and I would love him/her unconditionally, but the confusion and anxiety I felt was immeasurable. After many tears and much research on the internet, I came across hundreds of posts from women just like me who had been put through this harrowing time for nothing. As it turns out, these tests are notorious for false positives. Nobody had informed me about any of this. I spoke with my cousin who is a genetics counselor, and she also advised that most times the positive results of these tests are inaccurate.
Needless to say, I went for the ultrasound today and my baby is growing perfectly and is exactly where she’s supposed to be at in terms of development. She shows no physical signs of chromosomal abnormalities. I’m so thankful that she seems to be just fine and that the test result was a false positive. I’ve decided to write this personal story to inform anyone else that they do have the option to refuse this test, and maybe it will save another family from sleepless nights filled with worry. If I were told up front that the test was optional, or often inaccurate, I wouldn’t have taken the chance. I've now heard many stories of women who were unnecessarily scared out of their wits. Pregnant women and their families have enough stress as it is. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel so afraid.
I did learn, though, to put my priorities in order. I won’t complain about the pregnancy weight gain anymore. And maybe I won’t curse out the next guy who cuts me off on the freeway. Instead, I’ll be thankful that I’m being blessed with a new baby and that I have the best husband, daughter, family and friends a woman could ask for.