I got a call today from the obstetrician’s office. The results from the Panorama genetic test were in. Everything was fine. And by the way, we are going to have a girl.
One of the first things my husband had said to me upon learning that I was pregnant was to insist upon getting a genetic test. We did not agree on what to do should the results come out less than desired. This talk upset me so much that my parents offered to take me in in NJ to raise the baby with them no matter what. I was really upset, really hormonal, still in shock over the surprise pregnancy, and really touched by my parents’ instant declaration of support. Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to flee to NJ right now, however tempting, but it’s comforting to know that the option is still open.
Having assumed for my entire life that I was infertile and never destined to be a mother, pregnancy is a very emotional time for me. I didn’t plan on it, but a tiny little bit of hope was always there. And now it’s blossomed into a full-fledged pregnancy. With a genetically ok’d baby girl. But before that official “all-clear,” I suspected everything would be ok. I worry about being on the old side to have children, but the obstetrician wasn’t worried and my mom just laughed at me. Neither of our families have genetic problems or disorders being passed from generation to generation. I don’t smoke and I’m already alcohol intolerant, so I don’t really drink. I don’t do drugs and I live a quiet life.
The obstetrician said that at 30, I was too young for an amniocentesis, which doesn’t sound pleasant, anyway. They ultrasound where the baby is, then put a giant needle into your belly to draw out fluid. The procedure can sometimes lead to miscarriage. The hematologist mentioned two recent cases of hers which ended in miscarriage. “The mother is still on anti-depressants.” The doctor instead recommended the new Panorama test, which apparently came out in March. In contrast to the amniocentesis, all that was needed for the Panorama test was a bit of blood from me and a cheek swab from my husband.
The hematologist stressed how delicate the test was. She gave me exact instructions on how to prepare and what I was to do. I was to eat a full breakfast – “a sandwich or a muffin. Or even better, a bagel with cream cheese” – and then bring my lunch to be eaten in her office immediately before having blood drawn, again, a sandwich or a muffin or a bagel and juice. She said the mothers who had mistakenly eaten only fruit or a handful of almonds had to have the test redrawn. Something about blood sugar. My husband couldn’t eat anything less than 30 minutes before the test.
On the day of the test, I had leftover pasta for breakfast and treated myself to a sandwich box from the Europea Espace Boutique, a high end takeaway sandwich shop which was on our way. We forked over the $800+ for the test, which may or may not get refunded by our insurance carrier, as the test is so new. Most of Canadian healthcare costs are covered, but especially with medications and some other procedures like these private blood tests, they have to paid first and reimbursed later. “What isn’t paid back can be saved for tax credit as a medical expense,” we were assured. By the way, I still have to fill out the paperwork to request the reimbursement.
I was a little nauseous, but ate half the chevre and beef sandwich in the office as instructed and drank the juice, and had the vials of blood drawn. I’ve donated blood a number of times in the past, so doing blood tests is usually a piece of cake for me. The blood flow seemed a bit slower than usual, though, which I was told was normal for pregnant women. Afterwards, I was given a Bandaid and an alcohol wipe to use later on. I giggled as I watched my husband gargling water and then having his cheese swabbed for a full minute. It reminded me of biology class. Except we used tooth picks then, and the hematologist used a cotton q-tip. Then we were told that the test could only be processed in California, as it was so new that it was not processed in Canada yet, so it would take 14 business days to see results. Results which had to be collected in person. Afterwards, I wandered out to the botanical garden, ate the rest of the sandwich and my dessert of macaroons, read a bit from the book I was reading, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, and spent the afternoon being impressed by the giant living sculptures that were on exhibition. It was a very soothing experience after the morning’s pressure. I saw many children running around, laughing, on the grass. And some whining about how tired they were and how they wanted to be carried, to which the parents refused (the sculpture trail extends through the entire garden and is a bit lengthy). But mostly laughing, happy children.
Well, three days early, I appreciate the notification that so far everything is all right. I have to stop myself from watching youtube videos of conjoined twins and people with tree-like growths on their bodies, or of children with multiple extra digits on their hands and feet. I still remember the graphic birthing videos we had to watch in high school sex ed class (that’s one way to get kids to abstain or use protection). Also from the documentary, The Business of Being Born. But I’ve already had an ultrasound, and there’s only one fetus, so that’s one less thing to think about. And now that we know the sex, figuring out a name will be half the work.
I initially hadn’t wanted to know the sex of the child, but I’ve heard that it can be hard to keep ignorant of the fact when doctors and nurses sometimes inadvertently spill the beans. Besides, the pregnancy was enough of a surprise.