The Amniocentesis

We arrived early for the 9AM appointment. Sitting in the waiting room, I was excited and nervous, giddy even. My stomach was tying itself in knots. Our car was loaded up with our hospital bags and the car seat just in case.

Earlier in the week, when I explained the plan to colleagues and friends, they were alarmed. “You’re having an amnio? Isn’t that risky?”

I repeatedly explained what the doctor told me. Yes, an amniocentesis carries a small risk of miscarriage. That’s why they use them sparingly in the first trimester to detect genetic and chromosomal disorders. But at 37 weeks, technically full term, “miscarriage” is really nothing more than an early delivery, so the risk of fetal death is just about nill. Even if I were to go into labor and deliver the baby as a result of the amnio, the chances that he would not survive were next to nothing.

In the exam room, the ultrasound technician lubed up my belly and started running the wand over it. We looked at Baby NoName’s limbs and kidneys. She measured his leg bone, his belly, his head. She estimated his weight at six pounds, four ounces, right where he should be for 37 weeks. She looked for big “pockets” of amniotic fluid and estimated the amount of fluid surrounding the baby. She tried in vain to get us a picture of his face, but he had “dropped” so far into my pelvis, that she could not get his whole face, just a profile. “Oh well, we’ll see his face in person soon enough,” I said with an anxious laugh.

The doctor came in and asked if we had questions. Not really. The procedure is pretty straight-forward. They use a needle to extract amniotic fluid from the uterus so that they can determine whether or not the baby’s lungs are fully developed. I asked how long it would be until we had the results. “We’ll call you with the results by 4PM tonight. But I can usually tell just by looking at the fluid. It should be cloudy.” He warned me that the needle is really long. They’re kind of one-size-fits-all, so they need to be pretty long to accommodate moms with a bigger layer of fat. I looked away because I didn’t want to see the needle. I don’t have a problem sticking myself with a needle, but I’m not so comfortable when someone else is wielding the syringe.

He turned out the lights so that he could focus on the image on the ultrasound screen. He joked, “I have to turn out the lights so that I can see better.” I focused on the screen, too. That long needle was kind of freaking me out.

He inserted the needle and I prepared for the sting. But it didn’t hurt at all. Actually, the insertion felt a lot like an insulin shot. After that, I could feel the needle in my belly, but there was no pain. It just felt kind of weird. The whole thing was over in just a couple of minutes. The nurse turned on the lights. “Looks good and cloudy,” he said.

Next he did an internal exam to check my cervix. I was not dilated at all. So assuming that the test results confirmed his “cloudy” diagnosis, Cervidil would be our next step.

In the meantime, we headed over to the fetal evaluation department at the hospital for an hour-long non-stress test. They wanted to monitor the baby and my uterus for normal activity, heart rate, and contractions just to make sure that the procedure did not cause me to go into labor. Baby NoName performed his characteristic turns, kicks, and flips, and, an hour later, the nurse declared the test a success. We were free to go.

The next four or five hours were the hardest part. Waiting for that phone call was excruciating. Right on cue, though, at 4PM, the office manager called from the OB’s office. The results were in and Baby NoName was ready. “Come to Labor and Delivery tomorrow at 5PM. Eat before you come. In fact, eat something good, because they won’t let you eat once you’re admitted,” she advised.

Wow. This is it.

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4 Comments on “The Amniocentesis”

  1. Kaitake Says:

    Best wishes! 😀

  2. Saffy Says:

    Eat something good. Teehehe. Love the advice 🙂 Thanks for saying what the amnio needle was like. I haven’t had one but presume next time around I’ll have to have one (being 35 and all that) – good to know that the actual insertion isn’t *that* freaky.

  3. Bethany Says:

    update! lol – we miss you. hope you’re enjoying that beautiful baby!

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