The Perfect Family
(…continued from Back to the Beginning)
How the book came to be on my doorstep actually started a year prior. I was pregnant with my fourth when my good friend invited me to a self-help seminar.
I was exhausted, living in an apartment with three kids, one of them only 7 months old, and was reluctant to accept the invitation. I didn’t know if I was up for an all-day, touchy-feely workshop.
Why was I pregnant AGAIN and living in an apartment? Good question. Maybe the story doesn’t actually start at the seminar. Perhaps it starts earlier, in a house on 58th street. Allow me to explain…
We moved into our 74-year-old “forever” house in August of 2002 with Max, age 2 1/2 and Thomas, 9 months. We knew at some point we would want to rehab our kitchen, but it wasn’t until about a year and a half later that we decided to work with an architect. Coincidently, it was about the same time we decided to try for our last addition: baby #3.
Knowing it was going to be our last baby, and my final chance at a girl, I read the book, “How to Choose the Sex of your Baby” by Shettles.
This was going to take some work. And a thermometer.
For 9 months I took my temperature every morning when I first woke up, before setting even one toe on the carpet. I would meticulously pencil the results in my notebook and later enter them into a computer program that helped calculate my exact ovulation day.
Being a typical, type A first born, I also went through dozens of ovulation kit predictors for further proof of my body’s rhythm. I wasn’t going to take a chance on this one.
All the while, our kitchen project was expanding. May as well add the basement. Family room will need to be tweaked. While we are at it, I never did like that bathroom floor. From my body to my house: I was in full swing to make the “perfect” life.
Finally, around the 9th month, I had my female cycle down to the minute. It was time to start tying for that girl.
Low and behold, the first month of trying the prescribed timing “method” for a girl worked! I was pregnant!
All hopes where dashed, though, on a weekend trip to Boston. An epic snowstorm left us stranded an extra couple of days, just enough time to have a miscarriage in the three star hotel. What a way to spend a blizzard. I began to fear my body rejected baby girls.
Back to the drawing board.
Round two was successful, thankfully. With the past behind us, we ventured forward with the pregnancy and kitchen design. All seemed to be going well until my pre-natal triple screen test came back abnormal.
I knew the drill with this test. It wasn’t definitive. It is merely a “likely hood” that there is a problem based on your levels of AFP, estriol, and hCG. I had many friend who’s ranges were slightly outside “normal” on the bell curve and everything came back fine. So, maybe for my age there was a 1/1200 chance of Down’s Syndrome but my levels increased my change to 1/800. It was only a probability. I wasn’t worried.
Until I talked to the doctor. Feeling upbeat and unfazed, my spirits began to fade with the doctors tone. I could tell she was upset.
“I am so sorry to tell you that your triple-screen test came back abnormal”
“I know it isn’t definitive. It is only an increased chance that something is wrong, right?”
“Right,” she said.
“So, what are my increased odds? What are the actual numbers for Down’s Syndrome?” I asked, feeling like a veteran.
“Well, in your case, it isn’t Down’s Syndrome. It is something called Trisomy 18. It is a conditional that is fatal.”
My heart sank. She sounded so disappointed and certain.
“For a person your age, there is a 1/2000 chance of having a trisomy 18 baby. But, your results show an increased probability. We will need to schedule you an amniocentesis to get definitive results.”
Yes, I know all this already. “Right, I get it. And what is my probability, exactly. What do my levels increase the chances to?”
“With your levels, you have a 1 in 2 chance that the baby will have Trisomy 18.”
My heart sank. 50/50 chance. Oh, that was bad. Maybe Dalai Dan and I just don’t make healthy girls. Maybe I was messing with nature, trying to force my perfect vision of a family on it, and this was the consequence? Is this my punishment? I began to wonder, especially when research lead me to find out that most Trisomy 18 babies are girls, since Trisomy 18 boys miscarry much earlier. I convinced myself I had finally gotten my girl, but my selfish desire had pushed Mother Nature too far and she was pushing back.
(…continued on High Five!)