Since we didn’t have the embryos tested for genetic disorders, we did the blood tests to check for chromosomal and other disorders. My particular healthcare system offers the NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) to women 35 and older. This test is a blood test drawn around 11 weeks, and checks for trisomies 13, 18, and 21. Trisomy 21 is the same thing as Down syndrome. The test also checks the sex chromosomes for disorders, so the fun part is that you get to learn the gender early.
For women who are not yet 35 years old, they are offered the California state screening that everyone in the state is offered. The first blood draw is around 12 weeks, and there is an optional nuchal translucency ultrasound (NTU) that is also performed around that time. The ultrasound mainly measures the nuchal translucency, which if thicker than normal indicates a higher risk of Down syndrome. But younger women are also at risk for structural deformities (whereas those of us over 35 are at higher risk for chromosomal abnormalities), so sometimes the early ultrasound can pick up some major malformations. The NTU is not performed for those who have the NIPT done.
The women who have the NTU done get a preliminary result regarding risk for Down syndrome, but have to wait for the 2nd trimester results to come back to get the final results. One benefit of the NIPT is that you receive the chromosomal testing results earlier, which can be helpful in case there is an abnormal result. From there, patients can opt to do additional testing like an amniocentesis, which involves taking a sample from the amniotic fluid and testing for chromosomal disorders.
Since the blood tests are screening tools, the results can rarely be incorrect. While the amniocentesis is not 100% accurate, it provides a much more definitive diagnosis. Some people (especially those with significant risk factors) can consider skipping the blood tests and going straight to amniocentesis, but a lot of people hesitate because of the slight risk of pregnancy loss associated with the procedure.
Women who have the NIPT done also have the same 2nd trimester blood draw that is done with the California state screening test. That’s because it checks for things like neural tube defects that are not assessed in the NIPT blood draw.
I’m 18 weeks now, and I’m still waiting for the results of the 2nd trimester blood draw. But thus far, the NIPT results were normal and showed that we’re most likely having a girl. I also have my anatomy ultrasound coming up. This ultrasound is performed on all patients, even those who decline the state screen and NIPT. It will check for major organ malformations of the brain, heart, kidneys, etc. In our offices, those who don’t do the NIPT typically find out the gender with this anatomy ultrasound.
My husband and I would have been happy with another boy- we just want a healthy baby, and I’m hoping all of the tests and ultrasound results come back ok. So far, until the results come back normal and we feel comfortable sharing the news of the pregnancy with the masses, we’ve held off on clearly telling WZW that I’m pregnant as well. He definitely wouldn’t know how to keep it a secret.
To be honest, I’m a little scared to raise a girl. Not that my fears are necessarily based on any real facts. Since we have a boy, it seems like a known, as in we generally know what to expect, although of course every child can have very different personalities.
It’s probably more of a reflection of my own issues growing up. I have this impression that it’s so much more complicated to raise a girl. I would be concerned about cliques and Mean Girls-type situations. I’d also be concerned about raising her with self-confidence and to have a good body image. I would want to avoid stereotypes of what are boy interests vs girl interests. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days my mother grew up in. She was told that since she was a girl, she didn’t need to go to college like her brother, and all that really mattered was for her to get married and have children.
I think about two of my good friends that I’ve known since elementary school. One comes from a family of 4 girls, and the other a family of 3 girls. Growing up, and even into young adulthood, it seemed like they had more complicated relationships with their sisters. I only had one brother growing up, and yes we fought a lot as kids, but it wasn’t the same as what I saw with the families of all girls.
One of my colleagues’ wife is a life coach. They have two adult sons, and she once said how much respect she has for mothers of daughters. Based on her experience as a life coach, she thinks it’s more challenging raising daughters.
So I’m not crazy to feel this way. But I also realize that you can have challenges with children regardless of gender. I once read an interesting quote from actress Kerry Washington in Marie Claire magazine, “We think children come into the world and it’s our job to mold them and create them and teach them who to be so that they can be the best version of themselves, but it’s actually completely upside down. We get sent by God the kids we need so we can grow in order to be the parents they need us to be.”
As an aside, my husband played football at Cal with Kerry Washington’s husband, Nnamdi Asomugha. Nnamdi also played for our local 49ers. So it was funny when the news came out and I told my husband, “Nnamdi married Kerry Washington.” My husband responded in all seriousness, “Who’s Kerry Washington?”
Going along with Kerry Washington’s quote, I suppose we’re having a girl because it will be a learning experience for us. I had a feeling it would be a girl, partly because of our fear of having one. We are happy either way, and I am excited to be able to buy some baby girl clothes. Actually, since it’s been a few years, I’d be happy to buy baby clothes for either gender. But I have a thing for (tastefully done) rainbows, and it’s much easier to find girl clothes with rainbows.
It’s funny how it worked out that my parents had a boy and a girl, my brother has a boy and a girl (twins), and now I will, too. What’s also spectacular is that we can get all of my niece’s hand-me-downs. She was born in July and our daughter is due in August, so that should hopefully work out well with clothing sizes and seasons. But I will still want to buy a few things for her myself.