"I'm sure I'll be much more relaxed the second time I'm pregnant," I assured my obstetrician three years ago while pregnant with my first child.
"Oh no," she said. "You'll worry more. Everyone does. I think that women know more about all the things that can go wrong, and they start to obsess about them."
Now, four months pregnant with my second child, I'm finding her words to be terribly true. The first time I had a Tetra screening done, I promptly forgot about it and was suprised when the phone call came five days later that the results were negative.
"Oh, so that's what that bloodwork was all about," I told the nurse. It was the last thing on my mind; I was too busy looking up drawings of 17-week-old fetuses on the Internet and waiting to feel the first kicks of my unborn child.
This time around, I've already read all of the pregnancy books and growth charts and Web sites. What's left to look up on the Internet but "tetra screening?" "Down's syndrome?" "Trisomy-18?" "Spina bifida?"
After which, I'm a bundle of nerves, wondering if the nurse will ever call me back. Wondering why I had this stupid Tetra screening, with its well-documented high rate of false positives, done in the first place.
Gone too is the happy anticipation leading up to the ultrasound. During my first pregnancy, I naively thought the entire purpose of the ultrasound was to determine the sex of the baby. I was pleasantly surprised when the technician began looking at the baby from different angles and saying, "Blood circulation looks good. She has 10 fingers and 10 toes, great. Heart valves are all there and normal-sized."
Huh. They were checking all that stuff, too?
It's taken the wind out of my sails a bit for baby number two. Please let everything be okay, a small voice whispers in my mind whenever I think about the upcoming appointment. Please, please, please.
Generally, I succeed in pushing those nagging fears to the side. I'm eating right, gaining the recommended amount of weight, feeling tiny baby kicks throughout the day and night. I don't have a history of birth defects in my family ,and my first child is astoundingly healthy. Chances are, everything's going to be just fine.
Now, I just have to remember all these things the next time I'm sleepless and staring at the ceiling at three in the morning.
Lindsay is a freelance writer and television journalist raising her 2-year-old daughter and 13- and 15-year-old stepdaughters.