Amniocentesis: One Woman's Story

For me, no risk of miscarriage was worth taking.

Heartbreak and Confusion

The first time I got pregnant, I had the haughty self-assurance that my baby would be healthy, beautiful, and above average in every way. I was shocked and devastated when I lost her early in the pregnancy. A year later, when I got pregnant again, I knew that I could lose that one, too, but I didn't think I would. Then one night in week 12, I had another sudden miscarriage.

Six weeks later, my ob-gyn called and said she had good news. My fetal tissue sample tested positive for Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. Intellectually, I understood why she considered this good news. It meant we had a reason for my second miscarriage, unlike the first one, which remains a mystery. Emotionally, my reaction was more complicated.

Loss -- and Gain

After two losses in a row, I felt rage at being picked on. Some people told me I was lucky -- my body saved me the heartache of having to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy. But I had already loved this second baby and missed her acutely. Then a few months later, unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant yet again.

A healthy 34-year-old woman has about a 1/2 percent chance of carrying a Down syndrome baby, but since I'd already lost two pregnancies -- one definitely to Down syndrome -- my risk was assessed at one percent. Normally, such a low chance wouldn't scare me, but my earlier experiences had left me leery of the odds.

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