There are lots of words you don't want to hear: card declined, sold out, no, code brown (our personal alert when Agatha's nappy needs changing), you're fired. Yet there is one word that is worse than them all and that word is but.
You see, a few weeks ago I had some news that made my heart sing, I found out I was pregnant! This is a much longed-for and much tried-for addition to our little family and we are overjoyed. But - and there is that little word again, so small and seemingly inoffensive yet filled with potential menace. But there may be a problem with our baby.
At my nuchal scan everything looked fine. My beautiful baby, the size of an orange, was wriggling and swallowing and waving tiny limbs in what looked a lot like glee. Andy, Agatha and I heard his/her heartbeat and my eyes filled with happy tears - s/he was okay! Sadly I have had scans in the past at which there was no heartbeat, just the sonographer's silence, followed by a deep breath and the information that our baby hadn't made it. Scans are nerve-wracking for me, the fear that something has gone wrong never leaves you.
And here we were at 13 weeks with a heartbeat and a nose and little arms and legs and everything in the right place!
But, but... my nuchal translucency score puts me in the "high risk" category for having a baby with Down Syndrome. When the doctor uttered these words I was shocked, I knew my score would be lowered by my age, every year has a big impact on the risk score and at 38, I'm no spring chicken in reproduction terms. Still the news floored me, a 1:190 chance of Downs and a recommendation for a CVS or Amnio.
Both the CVS and Amnio tests carry a risk of causing miscarriage - 1 in 100 for CVS and 1 in 200 for Amnio. The benefit of the CVS is that you can find out straight away, you must be 16 weeks pregnant before you can have the Amnio. I chose the latter despite the awful, stressful wait to minimise my chances of miscarriage.
Andy and I talked and there is no question of termination for us, (please know this is a personal decision and not a judgement, every family must do what is right for them) but we agree that we need to know. To be able to get our heads around it and to prepare, possibly to change some things about our lives to accommodate a special needs child.
So off to Amnio I go, on Tuesday. I know those odds aren't too scary when taken at face value, Hell you'd even say they were good. But apply them to this situation, with the weight of love and fear and hope that's behind them and couple them with the words: "the scan was fine but..." and they take on a different feel. There's no two ways about it, "high risk" is what it is and we've got an anxious time ahead of us.
But - and here's a nice but, the nicest in fact - no matter the fear, no matter the outcome next week, this baby is ADORED. Beloved, cherished, valued. And there is more happiness in that than any word can express.