This morning I went in for an early appointment first thing after work and had chorionic villus sampling performed. Some sort of genetic testing is pretty standard in my family, but I am the first that I know of to choose CVS. Before me, everyone else had amniocentesis. I'm a rebel, choosing CVS. There are probably several reasons for this. CVS has a slightly higher incidence of miscarriage and a small window in which it can be performed. Luckily, I was referred to the genetic counselor early on and all testing options were available for me. I chose CVS mostly because I wanted the results as early as possible for making decisions regarding the pregnancy. If my anomaly exists in it's unbalanced state, it's not compatible with life in any example that I'm aware of. Therefore, I've always known that I would terminate rather than risk giving birth to a stillborn baby or a live child with here before unknown birth defects. With termination on the table, early results are important. All of that said, more than likely everything is fine or I never would have made it this far into the pregnancy.
This is how my CVS procedure went down. I was greeted by the same super nice ultrasound tech that I had seen exactly a week before. She did a quick ultrasound to make sure everything was still looking good and to see where everything was. At first Sketch was still, but after a little probing with the transducer, it started wiggling. It put a hand out and waved at me! She got a really good pic of just it's little frog legs and pot belly. It's pretty strange looking.
Oh and in case I had any vague hopes of staring really hard to determine sex organs from this crotch shot... I give you the following graphic from this site:
Then she went over the procedure and had me sign the consent form. The consent form had funny statements on it such as "I understand that the results of this procedure do not guarantee the birth of a normal child." but it was also reassuring in that the risks were all stated but you were reminded how rare the complications are. This was good as the possible complications had become a bit built up in my mind. Seeing the actual statistics in front of me was grounding. She brought up blood type, which my doctor forgot to fax over. I confessed to being A negative knowing that this would buy me a Rhogam injection. Since there is a small risk of me coming into contact with the fetus's blood type during the procedure (normally this is separate and protected until delivery) there is a chance that I could develop antibodies that would attack the fetus if it has Rh positive blood. Rhogam keeps my body from developing those antibodies and wanting to destroy what it's creating. (What say you, believers in Intelligent Design?) Knowing that Rhogam was in my very near future was anxiety producing as I vaguely remember them talking about how painful it is when I was in nursing school. Ugh.
Moving on. I got to strip from the waist down and cover with a sheet while the ultrasound tech talked to the doc. He came in and asked if I had any questions. I can't say he was warm, but he was very professional, which I appreciate. He also didn't show his annoyance when I waited too long to mention my latex allergy. Oops, probably should have mentioned that before you got yer sterile field started. Sorry! So the tech left to scrounge up some non-itch-inducing gloves and that was the biggest hold up. The speculum was big and it was cold (you can't warm up a speculum on a sterile field so I forgive them). He swabbed my cervix and then inserted the catheter and I could see it on the ultrasound. As it crept up through me at times I felt nothing, at other times I felt some pressure. The doc explained everything as it went. He told me when he was going to attempt to obtain the sample. They do this with suction, not a needle. I felt no different during this part, but I could see the bits of placenta going through the catheter on the ultrasound. It was cool. At this point, the doc has to walk away and check the sample under the microscope to see if it's a quality sample. Did I mention that you have to keep a full bladder during the procedure so they can see better? The whole time this was going on I was looking forward to the best pee ever. Talk about awkward. I'm naked from the waist down with a light shining on my lady parts which are stretched open with a cold metal speculum. I have to pee like you couldn't believe and I've got to chill while doc looks at the placenta bits under a microscope and makes sure they are the placenta bits he was looking for. This was also the best part. The tech was watching the fetus to make sure it was okay after the procedure. She rechecked the heart rate and then we just watched it for a while. It was a nice distraction from all the very undignified things that were going on below my belly button. I just watched it floating and wiggling while I waited.
The doc came back and announced that the sample was good. Hooray! They will try up to three times for a good sample, but luckily they got it with one pass. He reminded me that it takes 10-14 days for results because they are looking at my specific chromosomes and not just counting them to see if they are all there. I wonder just how much they get back on the report. I intend to ask my OB/GYN for a copy of it.
The Rhogam injection sucked. It's a rather big IM injection. It stings. It's the only time I had to reach for my husbands hand. I stick people with needles all the time. I have tattoos. I used to have my tongue pierced. I still get nervous when the needles are pointed my way.
That was it. She went over where to send my results and confirmed that it was okay to leave a message with the results.
Compared to the hysterosalpingogram it wasn't much different. The basic premise was the same. Speculum, catheter through the cervix... one was shooting stuff in and one was sucking stuff out. But in practice and feeling, they were not that different. The after care instructions aren't that difficult. Nothing inserted into the vagina for 5 days. (They didn't say no orgasms! I have my ways!) No tub baths or swimming. This is to allow the mucous plug to close up again and to prevent infection in the meantime. No straining or heavy lifting for 48 hours. Call my doctor if I get a fever or flu like symptoms. Some spotting and light bleeding is normal and about 40% of women have some after the procedure. I've had some very light spotting as of tonight. Overall, it was much less scary than I had built it up to in my mind. Still, I'm glad that hubby was able to make arrangements for work and to be there with me. It made a big difference.
So that's it. CVS wasn't that big of a deal and now that I've done it, it sounds less scary than an amniocentesis. I mean, a needle through my abdomen through the muscular uterus sounds way worse than going through an already existing hole (os, if you are med-term savvy) with a soft catheter and sucking up some tissue that has no nerve endings. Hopefully, I will have no need to compare the two.