Amniocentesis

5 Aug

I’m finding that the early genetics screening is our first opportunity to really indulge in pregnancy-crazy in a serious way. The earliest days went, in a blink, from ‘Um, really? Pregnant? Really, really?’ to an oscillation between potential dread and potential relief if wife had a miscarriage. That last bit is a little hard to say, since you don’t try to have a kid unless you actually want one. But getting pregnant and then having a spontaneous abortion would mean that we gave it our best go, and it just didn’t work out. Plus, something like 20% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions, with half of those due to chromosomal abnormality. This would allow us to go on with our lives relatively unchanged. I mean, our lives are perfectly fine without baby.

(And to be perfectly honest, it’s not like we’re out of the woods yet, but we’re approaching the 20 week mark, and odds of spontaneous miscarriage becomes pretty small after that.)

But the genetics testing is a slightly different animal. I mean, if you do an early test (CVS, it’s called), it’s pretty invasive, and creates a not-small risk of miscarriage. There are blood tests and visual screens, but these give you probabilities, not answers. And the amniocentesis test, which does give you definitive chromosomal mapping but also carries its own risks, still does not guarantee a ‘healthy’ child.

And if you get a ‘positive’ screening, you’ve got to decide what you are going to do with that information. A child with chromosomal abnormalities (e.g., a child with Down’s Syndrome) is a shitty way to describe a child. People live happy, delicious lives with Down’s Syndrome, all the time, and who are we to play God and terminate that pregnancy. Well, we are, in this instance. Making these decisions makes you take sides in a moral debate you never really thought too much about, or else thought about as a theoretical and not real position.

FWIW, and to be up front about it, I would be strongly inclined to terminate the pregnancy in the face of decisive information. But information is never decisive, and this opens me up to be shat upon by some Sarah Palin type who views me as a moral monster.

And in the end, absent any reason to go further past the preliminary testing, we’re forgoing the amnio, and assuming the fetus becomes a kid. But damn, the world we live in, filled with more information, more options, and less religion to keep you from thinking rather than just acting by ‘what is writ’, it all combines to make you sweat.

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