16 weeks + 3 days

Yesterday my belly finally popped out a little, but I don’t have a picture because I’ve been feeling like poop. I really hope this doesn’t give people the idea that they now have license to touch my belly. Next to morning sickness that is the part of the pregnancy that I loathe the most.

I’m normally a flat on my back sleeper, but as of last night that is no longer possible if I want to be able to breathe. So for the next 24+ weeks I have to endure the oh-so-uncomfortable side sleeping. I’m headed to Target today to get a new body pillow to make things a little better, my other one was ruined in the homebirth.

On Tuesday, I got a phone call from my OB’s office with some news. Now that I’ve had a couple days to process it I want to talk about it a little here, but first a bit of a background tangent…

Did you know that for pregnancy they count two weeks that you are not even pregnant as part of the gestational age of the baby? Well, they do. My midwife currently has a patient, Christian woman, never had sex before the wedding that got pregnant on her honeymoon and is extremely embarrassed by the fact that she has to include those extra two weeks in saying how far along she is because those two weeks were before the wedding and make it seem like she got pregnant before the wedding. I think I would be a little embarrassed too if I were in her shoes.

Why do they do this? I honestly think it is because most women have no clue about what goes on in their bodies and all they can tell you is that they bleed for a week every 28 days. So we base gestational age off of a woman’s last menstral period (LMP from here on out), rather than ovulation or conception date.

Most every calculation within the world of obstetrics and gynecology is based on this 28 day cycle and the fact that within that 28 day cycle most women are fertile and ovulate about two weeks after their LMP. The problem with using the 28 day cycle for all these calculations is that the 28 day cycle is based on an average. Some women have much longer cycles, some have shorter and within that some ovulate later in their cycle and others ovulate earlier in their cycle.

Now I’m sure you can imagine that if we are basing levels in blood work and due dates on this same 28 day cycle that it can lead to a lot of miscalculations. This is why you hear of women who were supposedly “over due” and thus induced by their OB, only to have a baby that is fairly small and developmentally not where they should be for a baby that is 40+ weeks. Or women who get an early hormone level test that is “off the charts” and are told they “must” be carrying twins only to find at a subsequent ultrasound that there is one baby in there and oh look it isn’t measuring where we think it should be measuring for how far along you are, let’s change your due date because you must be mistaken about your last period.

Despite plenty of research showing that every woman, every baby, every cycle, and every pregnancy is different the OB/GYN world insists on sticking to this average as a concrete basis for everyone.

I still think my new OB is great, don’t get me wrong, but let’s rewind back to my first encounter with him. Like most OB’s, he just couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that I knew when I ovulated and knew how far along I was based on that date. In he walked with his silly little cycle wheel trying to figure out how in the world I could only be 15 weeks pregnant with my LMP being March 15. My information did not work with the magic wheel. The fertility monitoring chart showing a very clear ovulation temperature shift with accompanying fertility signs meant nothing to him. I should have had an ultrasound in the first trimester to determine my due date if I don’t have normal cycles. I explained that I knew my ovulation date (April 6) and I was basing my due date off that.

Seriously, almost every basic online due date calculator has the option of putting in ovulation or LMP, why is it so hard for OB/GYNs to figure it out? For people that spent years in school and are supposed to be specialists in female fertility and anatomy, you’d think it wouldn’t be so hard for them to wrap their heads around, sheesh!

I mean really it isn’t that hard. If the average woman ovulates two weeks after their LMP and I know my ovulation date, then just go back two weeks from that date (March 23) and use that as my LMP if you must have a date for your calculations and magic wheel. Unless something is really wrong and there is major cause for concern an ultrasound really is not necessary people!

So anyway, the phone call from the OB. At my first appointment they drew blood for the second trimester screening panel. My doctor was calling to inform me that the blood work came back positive for Down Syndrome. However, he quickly followed that up with, “Well, since I didn’t have an early ultrasound to go off of with you that test was based on your LMP. The test is very specific to how far along you are and even if you are a week ahead or behind it will generate a false positive.” So I reiterated to him once again that I don’t have normal 28 day cycles and that the test is likely very wrong if it was in fact based on my LMP. He said that we’d know more at my big ultrasound where they could look for physical abnormalities and sure signs like heart defects. And, that if I really wanted to know for sure I could have an amniocentesis done. Sticking a giant needle in my belly and puncturing the amniotic sac just to know? Ummm no thank you.

Despite remaining calm and going through all the logical facts with my OB as to why I already knew the test was likely false, I of course broke into tears upon having to relay the information back to Stephen and then my sister who showed up two minutes after the phone call. I mean no one wants to hear or have to face the fact that something could be wrong with their baby. No one. But I’ve come to terms with it now and with the fact that even if the test is right, that we love this baby.

So that’s what I’ve been going through this week, among other things. As such, I am so looking forward to our vacation and being around people we love.


Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

14 responses to “16 weeks + 3 days

  1. Oh Lisa, I’m sorry! Even though I would not be surprised at all if this is indeed a false positive (I’ve known several women who had what the doctors were sure would be down syndrome babies, and there was not ONE thing wrong upon birth), I know it still must be a hard thing to have to think about. Thankfully, I know you know that this little one is in God’s hands no matter what. Just think of Psalm 139… Baby is being knit together in your womb by God Himself, who knows every last intimate and minute detail about your little one, even if the doctors and you can’t. And if Baby is not “normal”, then He will certainly prepare you for such a thing.

    You and your little one are faithfully in my prayers 🙂

    ps. I’m so excited you get to go to Mammoth… have a wonderful trip!!

  2. Hi. I’ve read your blog for awhile and am finally going to comment! We have some common friends in Bako which is how I found you. (and, as an aside, I tried your Caprese Chicken Pasta the other night…thanks! I used fresh mozzarella instead of grated and it was good!)

    I totally understand your frustration with OBs and the way they figure due dates. I have a 35 day cycle so I am in a similar situation. I walked into the OB with my first pregnancy and she tried to tell me my due date was a week off (I went into labor naturally 2 days after MY predicted due date). I had decided that I wasn’t going to stress too much over it this time, but your story makes me wonder if I should think again…

    So sorry you have to go through this. I hope you feel well on your trip and have a great vacation!

  3. Megan

    Sheesh indeed. I nominate you as my pregnancy guru when the time comes; these doctors seem a little out of it. I hope you feel better soon. I can’t believe he was basing that test off your LMP ( now that I know about what all that means) after telling him about your irregular cycle;hearing that your baby tested positive for Down’s Syndrome is some pretty huge news to hear over the phone. Anyway, I’ll be praying for you and your baby that you love. He/she will be exactly how he/she is supposed to be at birth; you needn’t needle probe that little bundle. I totally agree with you! Have a splendid vacation Lisa!

  4. I am not an advocate of lying, but for these very reasons, I have been known to tell the doctor my LMP based on my ovulation, not on when it actually happened. I am one of those women who was induced at 10 days overdue, only to realize later that I was probably induced right before or at my actual due date. I will be praying for you and your baby, but it sounds to me like there’s not actually anything to worry about.

  5. GrandmaTiger

    Don’t worry, it is indeed most likely a false test, they used to not even bother testing until a woman was nearing her 40’s. Can you imagine how much I confused the doctors with your 3 sisters? I had very irregular cycles, they stopped completely when I was nursing, for 2 of your sis’s I never had a cycle AT ALL between giving birth to the previous one and becoming pregnant again, so there WAS NO “LMP” for them to calculate from. Yet all four of you turned out healthy. Doctors tend to try to make a natural, flexible occurance into a rigidly scheduled “Event” that they can plan their schedules around. Ignore them, you will be fine.

  6. lovelearnandlive

    Oh, Lisa. That is some hard news to hear, even knowing that it is probably wrong. When is your “big” ultrasound scheduled? I’m praying for you and baby #2.

    I hope the doctor learned something this go-around and doesn’t make the same mistake with his other patients! My OB had a big fertility treatment practice so he was very familiar with charts and after telling me I interpreted mine properly (thanks, haha) actually copied it and put it in my file. Maybe you need to send him a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. 😛

  7. GrandmaTiger

    The only reason to do an amnio would be if you chose the option – which they WILL offer to you – of not continuing the pregnanacy. Since you do not believe in that option, it is useless to take the risks associated with the test.

  8. lwuertz

    It’s the day before my next appointment, Aug. 5.

  9. Kourtni

    I agree that it’s probably a false positive. I’ve known several ladies who this has happened to. One of them was my aunt who was told that she was in fact having a downs baby and she went through her entire pregnancy believing that to be the case… studied up and was prepared as much as she could be. When he was born he was 100% normal. All that stress and worry for nothing. This is the reason I refuse the first trimester screenings. They usually try and talk me into it… but I figure… we will not love the baby any more or less if he/she has problems or is healthy… so why add more stress??

  10. You get sick with pregnancies. That alone is enough to give you a false positive. With my last pregnancy, I was told I had a 1 in 42 chance that my daughter would have Down Syndrome. The Dr. at San Dimas asked me to do an amnio. I was dealing with hyperemesis and said no way because there is a risk in that and if I found out my baby had Down Syndrome, I’d have a baby with Down Syndrome, end of story. They sent me to a genetic counselor, had me see the specialist who did a detailed ultrasound and I spent most of my pregnancy worrying that my baby wouldn’t be ok, even after the ultrasound said she looked fine. My daughter was born completely healthy, and I found through some research that hyperemesis women are much more likely to have a false positive, since part of the reason they get so sick is an elevated horomone level, which is what they go off of in that AFP test. Obviously, I said no way to that test this pregnancy, and it’s funny, because if you have an ultrasound, they check for all the same stuff, anyway.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. You know your body and cycles better than any doctor will and I found that there are tons of false positives out there. I never knew until I had one, how inaccurate those tests are. I understand your worrying, though, since I went through the same thing. Just try to think that God will take care of you and your baby and things will work out. It’s hard not to worry, but try to think about the day you’ll be able to hold your new baby and watch your daughter and the new baby interact. It makes things seem so much better!

    Good luck to you!


  11. What difficult news to hear. I’ll be praying for you as you wait for the ultrasound. Enjoy your vacation! I hope it is relaxing and peaceful.

  12. I am so sorry about all of it, the OB’s inability to do simple math to figure out your due date, your test results, having to even consider those results.


  13. Morgan

    Isn’t it annoying when you KNOW what you’re talking about and no one will listen? Bah. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. I will definitely be praying for you and the little one, and even though it may be hard to hear at the moment, God has the perfect plan for this baby, and for you as it’s mama. I’m glad your doctor at least said that he realizes that if you’re even a week off, a false positive would appear. It seems that he realizes he’s wrong, but maybe just not acting on it. 🙂 I’m glad you have Mammoth coming up and can relax!

  14. anniegroves

    Hi, I stumbles across your blog from Justin & Barbie’s blog – and wanted to comment because I went through the exact same thing. Same phone call, same results, same panicked-but-I-trust-God-and-love-this-baby response… and it was a beautiful process for my husband and I to acknowledge the baby is God’s and we are blessed no matter what. Of course, I was relieved the next day at the big ultrasound to see no abnormalities and months later i delivered a healthy baby girl! Lots of false positives for that screening test.

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