I have 5 kids and had my last at 37 too, back in 1987. I also failed my AFP on the low side–positive for one of the trisomies of course. Back then, we didn’t have level 4 ultrasounds to check for the extra nuchal fold and look at arm and leg length etc and I was afraid of the amnio back then as it was far less routine than today. No ultrasound though–even a really high level one today–can absolutely rule out a trisomy defect. Amnio or chorionic villi sampling are the only ways to know for sure–and amnio, again, is the more routine and least invasive in my personal opinion. So anyway, in my case and back then, I decided to just do nothing and hope for the best–but I lived with the continual fear of something being wrong for the rest of my pregnancy. And that was perfectly horrible on a day to day basis. It was my first thought in the morning and my last as I went to sleep. It effected my attention to things going on in my other kids’ lives, because inside I was so worried about the baby that it messed with my concentration and ability to enjoy things. She was born in September and I swear, that entire summer is still a blur to me–it’s like I was there but not really–if that makes sense to you–and it was all unnecessary. My baby girl is a perfectly healthy 27 year old woman now. No trisomy. She is perfectly fine and it was a false positive. That particular test has MANY false positives–though at your age, it is certainly worrisome and there’s just no doubt about that fact.
I guess I have no real advice. You and your husband need to set down and talk when he gets home and decide what is right for you–cause that’s really what it boils down to. If I had to do it again, I’d have the amnio. It’s not a question of whether I’d have terminated the pregnancy if she really had been afflicted with a trisomy–because I would have carried her anyway–it would have made no difference. However, if I’d have found out she did have a trisomy, I could have used the remaining part of my pregnancy to prepare myself, my kids and even grandparents and other family and friends for the entire spectrum of health issues that would’ve been involved. I could’ve had the best neonatologists available and in hospital when I delivered to immediately evaluate and take care of her. Everyone would have been prepared. That would’ve been so much better than having them all expecting a perfectly normal baby and then getting a terrible surprise. I could have also researched myself–learned everything I’d need to know etc., arranged for extra help–many things.
Since my girl was fine as it turned out, what it would have meant in my case, is that I’d have enjoyed the last half of what was my last pregnancy so much more because I’d have not worried about it 7/24 for 21 weeks. Which is, of course, exactly what I did–and as it turned out–for no reason! And I’m with you–when I went through that scare–and even finding out in the end, at her birth, that she was physically perfect–I knew it was time for me to quit having babies, as the risk for the next baby—when I’d have been even older-would increase even more. For me, I just knew that while I love all my kids and would love one with a handicap too, that I simply wasn’t willing to invite catastrophe. I looked at the facts, decided that God had blessed me with 5 healthy kids and for me, I didn’t want to throw the dice at my age again. So I quit-- I have 5 and that was enough for us.
Having said that, what was right for me–or what I’d do now, is not right necessarily for you. Can your husband deal with standing 21 weeks of worrying and not knowing for sure–or would he deal with knowing the truth up front and having time to work through it mentally better? What about you–how do you deal with things best? I assure you that amnios are very safe now days. They are done using an ultrasound for guidance, you are “numbed” first so it’s not painful–you may feel a little pressure or tugging but not pain, there’s virtually no risk in real life and they are done all the time. So you don’t need to be afraid of the procedure. (HONESTLY!) It’s done and over with in usually less than 30 minutes, you’ll probably be told to rest a little for 24 hours, and within a very few days, the results come back. The results are almost 100% accurate and then you know for sure. But it all boils down to what you and your husband decide is best in your case. There’s no one right or wrong decision for everyone and you know you and your husband better than any of us on this forum possibly could. My prayers are with you–I know how afraid you are right now–believe me.