A Blood Test Told me My Baby might Not be ‘Perfect’

Pearly Poh, 33, was devastated when she found out that her unborn baby might have Down’s Syndrome. Her mother’s instinct proved them wrong. Sarah is now a normal and bubbly four months old.

After my first daughter Annabel came, my husband and I knew that we wanted more children. We started trying for a baby soon after she reached her second birthday. A few months later, I missed my period and the home pregnancy test came out positive. It didn’t really come as a surprise but we were excited nonetheless.



Maybe, Maybe Not?

At week 16, I went for my regular monthly check-up and took the customary triple screen blood test which involved drawing out some blood to check for abnormalities. Ten days later, the result came back, showing an increased risk of Down’s Syndrome in my baby. Shocked and speechless, I felt as if my whole world had turned upside down. My first pregnancy was smooth sailing; there was no way I could foresee this at all. We were recommended to do an amniocentesis test, scheduled two weeks later.

A Mother’s Instinct

Meantime, I was worried sick. My husband and I started asking around and doing online research on similar cases. We found that there was a high percentage of false positive results with the triple screen blood test. That calmed me down a little although I was counting down to the day of the big test. It didn’t help that my husband and I were countries apart at that point in time. He was still pursuing his Masters abroad while I remained in Malaysia. We were both very anxious and discussed what to do if the situation didn’t back us up. In the end, we decided to cross the bridge when we actually got there.

My mother’s instinct told me that my baby was normal especially with all that movements inside me. Besides, a thorough ultrasound of her various organs did not show any abnormalities. We decided to carry on with the scheduled amniocentesis to have a peace of mind in knowing that the baby was alright.

Staying Strong

The day came when I was due for the critical test. I braved myself to the hospital, reminding myself to keep calm and stay strong. The procedure took less than one minute and was painless although I felt a slight tinge of pressure when a thin needle was inserted into my lower abdomen. The doctor made two attempts as my baby started moving before sufficient amniotic fluid was drawn out. I was awake throughout, watching the ultrasound screen as the needle went into my womb. The test didn’t come cheap too; it cost us a total of RM1,800.

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I would be lying if I say I wasn’t scared. In fact, I prepared myself for the worst. “Normal or abnormal, we will still love you regardless,” I whispered to my baby. Praying hard that everything would be fine, I consulted my doctor for the results two weeks later. It was probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve ever encountered as the doctor flipped through the papers and studied the results before saying, “Everything’s normal.”I was disoriented in feelings – comforted because everything seemed clearer now, upset because I had to go through this ordeal and guilty for transmitting such negative vibes to my unborn baby.

Labour Day

On 19 April 2011, I woke up to contractions early in the morning but wasn’t too sure if they were yet another false alarm of Braxton Hicks. Two hours later, I discovered a bloody show. By then, my contractions were getting quite regular and intense. My husband rushed me to the hospital and Sarah was born about two hours later via natural birth without epidural, just like my first time.

Weighing 2.9kg at birth, she was as perfect as a baby could get. Seeing her for the first time felt like falling in love all over again. She takes after her daddy with beautiful eyes and nose. In fact, she looked exactly like her sister at that age. We named her Sarah Sophia, as Sarah means ‘princess’ in Hebrew while Sophia is derived from the Greek word for ‘wisdom’.

Finding A Closure

Life has been a whirlwind of joy and chaos with two little ones at home now. I’m blessed to have good family support. I’ve learned not to take things for granted. If you are faced with such a similar situation, seek a second opinion. Speak and share your experience with others. Go for an amniocentesis, just for that peace of mind. Remember that the triple screen blood test often gives high false positive results. More often than not, the outcome isn’t what you fear most.

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