Monday, January 26, 2009

So, really, it turns out I'm a revolving door of pink is the new black

Today's topic is one that many people would not discuss in such a public forum. And I'd like to make it clear that I am writing about it precisely because I find it anxiety-inducing. Not because I take it lightly.


I spent a good chunk of the past month Googling Down syndrome. And other things I'd never heard of before, such as Trisomy 13 and 18. There is a lot of frightening information out there, and you can get yourself 54 kinds of worked up. Or more.

Because, I don't know if you know this - I didn't - but advanced maternal age begins after 35.

Advanced maternal age. It sounds old and scary. The image I get is of a grey haired, pursed-lipped, stern, non-child-friendly librarian. I don't know why.

I thought about my age as a factor in getting or not getting knocked up. But I didn't really think beyond that.

And then to my vast surprise, I got pregnant quite fast, and went in to the doctor. At which point I immediately learned a lot about my advanced maternal age. You are given all this information about different tests for different things that could be wrong.

Because of your advanced maternal age.

Nobody is pushing you to have these tests. But you're eligible for all of them. Because your eggs, they've been sitting around for a while. Which means there is a greater chance of a genetic abnormality. And they have had more time to accumulate more environmental damage and such.

Your odds of having a baby with Down syndrome, while 1 in 1,250 at age 25, increases to 1 in 100 by age 40.

Dramatic, no?

So, being me, and being slightly obsessive sometimes or usually, and being an enormous fretty-pants, I Googled relentlessly. The advanced maternal age. The statistics. Screening tests. The percentage of false positives. The percentage risk associated with different diagnostic tests.

And so on.

This, as you might imagine, became my topic of choice. You should feel lucky I was keeping this a secret for a while. Anxiety level? Very high.

As with most things, I churned myself into practical hysteria. I obsessed. Endlessly. And then I worked through it. It's not resolved, but I've fretted about this as much as I physically can. Somehow, I needed to go through that to come out the other side.

I can say this now.

You don't necessarily think about your behavior around things like this while you're doing it, because, well, you're just living forward. Being yourself.

And then, one day, you might be sharing all you've gleaned from exhaustive searches with a close friend. And something happens to make you realize that perhaps, just perhaps, you have gone over the top with all of it. As you are wont to do.

The moment of realization? When your husband gently puts his hand on the friend's arm, leans forward in a confidential manner, and says the following.

"Basically, Downs is the new rabies."

And the friend, she nods knowingly.


  1. This makes me further wonder how much damage all of the medical advances have done to our mental health.

  2. Oh, yah, the availability of information is so great and so terrible. You can find worst case scenario for everything - and I am one of those people who goes searching. By the same token, I believe that you have to be your own biggest advocate, and you can't trust your doctors to have the time/interest to research to the nth degree. I have friends who have had hard to diagnose ailments, and if they hadn't done a lot of their own research, I believe they still wouldn't be diagnosed.

  3. Dude, I chuckled knowingly while reading this. Google? Is evil. EVIL. And yet I cannot stay away. This weekend I spent roughly 47 hours googling spider bite symptoms. The other hour was spent moaning about how much my head hurrrrts and how I am going to diiiiie from the spider bite. My husband finally told me to shut up about my damn zit. Harsh but fair.
    I'm glad that you've worked through your hysteria. Though I'm not one to give any sort of advice about not getting worked up over situations you can't control, I will say that life does seem to work itself out once you stop worrying about it.

  4. google can be a very scary place! but i've found some comforting information on some searches as well. i try to stay away, but that is easier said than done!

    so what did you and nick decide, tests or no?

  5. hahaha (not sure if that's the appropriate response for post but it was the last thing i thought)
    anyway, i'm frighteningly familiar with the trisomy stuff as i have an OBGYN friend and she likes to freak me out. i'm scared enough to have a baby with all the crazy stuff out there you can read about, i can't imagine if i have one of "advanced maternal age"
    more power to ya!!

  6. Hillary - Of course you have to Google the hell out of spider bites! Your husband - doesn't he know how fatal they can be? I mean, both zits AND spider bites?! You might have to have a limb amputated! Or goodness knows what else!

    I worry most about the things I cannot control. And I do get to a level of worked up, and then somehow I fret/talk enough, and it's out.

    mrsmac - It is impossible for me to resist temptation. As for tests, yes. We're having the nuchal screen done this Thursday, and then depending on results, a CVS.

    notsojenny - I have to laugh at myself with this stuff. I understand I take things way over the top. And I'm glad I haven't spent years being freaked out by an OBGYN friend. Yikes!

  7. God, too much information really can be toxic. My biological father has MS. For a good long while I was having headaches they could not diagnose. I was 10000% convinced I had MS. I would cry at night.

    I had migraines.

  8. you know what that means... more ultrasounds!!! yay! good luck!

  9. I'm glad you've found your way through. And honestly, there's something to be said for thoroughness of research, and making sure you're as informed as possible at the outset.

    Also, you're consistent. And you're surrounded by husband and friends who know all of this about you and love you for it.

    Which is something to celebrate, definitely.

  10. Jodie had Scout at 40, and Pipie at 42. No rabies or nothing. She even had Scout at home. So you'll probably worry and worry (Jodie did), but in the end they come out pretty great. Getting info on pregnancy from the internet is like having books thrown at your head. Did you know that 39% of all statistics are made up on the spot?

    It's going to be great, and you're both going to be awesome.

  11. I don't allow myself on WebMD any more. Nothing good can come of it.

    Wishing you the best, darling... of course it will be fine! But you'll feel better if you worry.

  12. Lemmonex - That is so scary. I'm sorry about that, and I completely understand.

    mrsmac -Yes, a super super detailed on, aparently! Thank you!

    Dagny - Oh, you would be able put an awesome, totally reasonable spin on it. Thanks for that, lovey.

    Jordaan - She had Scout at home!!! Wow! As for the 39% - did you make that up on the spot?

    Hugs to you, my friend. This makes me feel better.

    LiLu - That takes a remarkable amount of self-restraint! And I appreciate the wishes!

  13. *hugs*

    Sometimes... ignorance really is bliss.

    "For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
    -Ecclesiastes 1:18

  14. While it's good to be prepared, if you over reach what your brain can handle, sometimes you end up rocking back and forth in the corner and sucking your thumb. Glad you've come out the other side, and I'm sure, sure, sure that everything will be well with you and the little one!

  15. I am banned from doing any sort of medical research on the internet. My doctor, bless his soul, has said that my mental state WILL deteriorate the minute I think something's wrong with me and then I can't stop thinking about it. So he instituted the ban. If I make it to my next physical without having googled something wrong with me, I get a sucker.


  16. VVK - Hugs to you. I know, sometimes knowing too much is totally unhelpful. But for me, it would be worse to know about the possibility and not be able to dig into details. At least, I think it would...

    Sarah - I don't know why I have to go through this process, but I seem to need to. I hope so - thanks for the nice words!

    Kate - You have a smart doctor there. He is right, of course we know he is. And I like that he's rewarding you for good behavior.:)

  17. oooh check this out - i just heard that a friend of a friend's mom just had a child at 54, dad is 68! woo-hoo! throw that one on the statistics pile and watch it burn! :)

  18. TMI is generally available on the internet. I convinced myself I had cirrhosis due to my symptoms. (Because a 25 yr old wino who works out daily has cirrhosis what?) That said, and many may spear me for admitting this, i don't know how I'd feel about having a child later in life (meaning 50s, not 40s!) without amniotic testing.

    You are a healthy happy person. You are not 40. You are young in body and in spirit. You are well, and you know it. Deep down , you do.


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