During my wife’s third pregnancy she was required to have a test done on the baby, about 3 months into the pregnancy. This “innocent”test is called amniocentesis. You might wonder why this had to be done, since we have two beautiful kids already. Why couldn’t they pick a name for this procedure that one could actually pronounce and remember. Well, this test is carried out on most women in their mid 30s, but especially if you have had a baby born with a disability in the past. Our son was born with Down syndrome and my wife has past her mid 30s with a few years. So, we tick both boxes.
From what I’ve been told, and what I’ve experienced, the amniocentesis test is a VERY uncomfortable test. In short, it is a gigantic thick needle forced into the woman’s belly that is slowly moved into position to extract amnio liquids from the womb. To make matters worse, all this is done WITHOUT anaesthetics!!
We went into hospital to get this test done and I don’t blame my wife from being extremely nervous. For the record, I’m terrified of needles and will most often pass out if I’m given an injection – no matter the size of the needle.
They called us and we were brought into this little sterile examination room, which was very warm. My wife reluctantly revealed her belly and the doctors explained (in too much detail for my liking) what they were going to do. Again, let me reiterate, NO anaesthetics.
The procedure starts with a quick scan to find the fetus and a suitable position far away from the fetus. This in itself is almost impossible, as the womb is small and the fetus moves at this stage in the pregnancy. The nurse found a spot and cleaned it with disinfectant. She then handed a needle the size of a drinking straw (in length) and the doctor slowly pricked the needle through the skin.
My wife (god bless her) was in agony and she was sobbing quietly. Imagine pricking yourself on a needle, but to continue to push it into your finger anyway. The amount of pain generated is ridiculous. And here comes the slap in the face. The doctor suddenly said to my wife: “You have to stop crying and lie still, otherwise we have to do it again”. Every time she sobbed a bit, her belly moved, so the needle retracted a bit and/or it could move the fetus. Hitting the fetus with the needle would simply be lethal.
For your information, I absolutely hate needles. As soon as I saw this needle, the size of a ninja sword, the blood drained from my head. However, I had to be strong for my wife, as she was the one who was in real pain – I was just a wimp! So, I was putting on a brave face to be strong for the both of us. This is VERY difficult when you sit in a 10 x 10 room, face-to-face with a doctor, nurse and wife. Not to mention the thousands various medical equipment in the room and a monitor right next to me. The heat in the room didn’t help either.
I refused to look at the procedure itself, as this would certainly have knocked me out. So, I was trying to look at my wife or around the room. Looking at my wife meant seeing her in pain, which I don’t like.
My eyes wandered to the left, only to be caught in the tractor-beam of the gigantic 10 inch needle being pushed into my wife’s belly. It was gently pushing her flesh inwards. I was panicking!
Forced to look elsewhere, my eyes caught the monitor which was scanning what was happening to my wife. I could again see the needle slowly being pushed through skin, flesh and placenta. Suddenly the room started spinning and the blood was draining from my head.
The doctor spoke calmly, “We have to do it again. Your stomach moved and the needle came out of the placenta”. So, the horror started all over again.
Just so you understand, in order for the needle to penetrate the placenta, the doctor has to tap on the needle top, forcing it through the placenta’s membrane.
After 14 minutes of hell, my nerves were shattered. They were finally able to extract the fluids they needed and we could go home. My wife had to take it easy for a couple of weeks, so no heavy lifting or other activities.