At one of our early ultrasounds, the sonographer was measuring everything they typically measure and she noticed that the thickness of the neck (the NT) was thicker on Nate than the typical "healthy" range. This started to freak me out before anything else came our way (and boy did it!). I didn't remember any of this from when we had Lily and we had a ton of ultrasounds with her for another reason. But it never came up with Lily. Now, after the sonographer found this thickness, she changed moods and got super quiet and serious. Cue freaking out now.
After she was done, we met with my doctor, and he started to talk about issues with Nate and how and what it could mean. Basically, one of the biggest things that comes from this test is that it's a marker for Down's Syndrome. Doug and I walked away from the appointment sad, disappointment, freaked out, and extremely nervous. Our baby could have Down's. And before I go any farther, I know this isn't a death sentence by any means, but it's not exactly what parents want to hear.
There's a lot to this whole story and I feel like I'm not even getting it all, but it was an incredibly stressful time. We were barely into our second trimester, I felt great, but was nervous as can be because of this. So, we followed the doctor's orders and had blood drawn for them to test.
It was Doug's birthday week, we were out to eat at a local pizza place when we got the call.
Our baby had a 1 in 24 chance of having Down's. All I could think of was "WHAT?!" and then I wanted to cry. I did too, but I tried to hold it back until after the phone call with the doctor and when we weren't in public.
The chances were increased due to my age (I was almost 31 at this point) and the measurement of his neck being larger than normal. I Googled it. Don't. It'll just scare the crap out of you.
After that result, which of course freaked us out, we talked to the doctor and he mentioned a test called Verifi. It's accuracy is really good and so we did it. It was a lot less stressful on the baby and me to do compared to other tests, plus the accuracy is higher. But he mentioned that sometimes insurance doesn't cover it, so we had to be pre-approved to do it. He didn't think it'd be an issue as we're already marked at a higher risk but had to throw that into the stress bucket.
Needless to say, we would have paid for the test out of pocket (roughly $1000) if necessary. But my insurance is awesome and so they covered it. We had more blood drawn and sent it away to California. Now the waiting game. And then came phone tag with my doctor's office because they wouldn't leave the results on my answering machine. Thankfully I had two amazing paraprofessionals in my class to help watch the students while I tried to answer phone calls and call them back. I didn't tell the paraprofessionals what it was for, I felt ashamed at the the time (I guess that's the feeling), but I did eventually tell some people. Only two people at my work knew and only our immediate family and my best friend (who worked as a sonographer) knew.
Well, we finally had the results that he was not Down's or anything else that shows up on this test. There could still be a possibility (at this point in my pregnancy) that he could have "something" but we were positive he was good as can be!
However, we were not fully out of the woods. We did two specialized ultrasounds, one of Nate overall, measuring everything and one of his heart. The heart one was right after the negative results and I remember the doctor (who my best friend works with, which is one of the reasons she knew) was like "Then why are you here?!" after we told him the test was negative. He made things feel so much better. His coworker, the genetics counselor, was not that way.
If you ever have to go to a genetics counselor, I feel for you. I went with Doug and my mom and we had information from Doug's parents too. Other than our nephew, everyone in our entire family was born normal and remained that way. No weird blood issues, no Down's, nothing. Our nephew, long story short, was born with a cleft lip and esophagus, plus a few other minor issues. I don't know if it was ever contributed to one thing or another but he's a cute little 4 year old who has energy to sell now. So here we were, sitting in her office, and having to go through everything in our history. Which, of course, brings up cancer and my brother, and that's always sad, but has nothing to do with why we were there. She should have met with us AFTER the ultrasound but that didn't happen.
So... back to the photograph. After Nate was born and my brain returned to semi-normal (it's still a little out there in la la land some days), I noticed the Angel Kisses on his neck. Our peditrician, who knows nothing about the Down's chance and all of that, saw them and said that they are fine, normal, and will likely go away and that they are "nothing to worry about." I like to think that they are someone's way of saying they were watching out for him.