If you’ve been following me on here for any length of time, you know that I have a daughter who has Down syndrome and that she was diagnosed at birth. She was my first child and her little brother is my last. I knew nothing when I was pregnant with her. I read all sorts of books… but I knew nothing.
My first prenatal appointment
I went by myself to meet with the midwife. She asked all sorts of questions about family medical history, diseases that run in our families, etc. She had a gigantic built-in bookshelf behind her. No overhead light – just a dim table lamp on her desk.
What are your thoughts on prenatal testing? We can test for a wealth of conditions with a few minimally invasive tests.
– No, thanks.
Decide now. If you’re going to accept whatever God gives you, don’t have the tests done. If not, do all the tests. There’s no half way – don’t do some and not the others.
So what you’re saying is you’ll take whatever you get.
No prenatal testing.
As though I’d be wasting their time to do some but not others because they wouldn’t be able to tell anything definitively without an amnio.
Lets be real here. I had no expectation that there would be anything different about my baby. How sad when it happens to someone else, but I’m not worried because my kid will be fine. (What I didn’t think about at the time was that to everyone else, I’m someone else.) I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was pushing the constant nagging thoughts that something indeed was wrong out of my head, dismissing them as normal pregnancy fears.
A few weeks down the line, another appointment.
Went by myself, this time to meet with the doctor.
You didn’t have the first trimester test… Are you having the second trimester one? It’s a simple blood test, no big deal.
– No. In the words of the midwife, I will take whatever I get. (Was I giving birth to a baby or buying a sandwich?)
Well, sometimes babies need surgery right after they’re born and we like to be prepared.
What kind of mom would I be to make it harder on the doctors and the baby if she did in fact need surgery right after birth? I caved. So in the middle of a snow storm, I let them take 4 vials of my blood.
Later that week, the midwife calls.
She’s pissed. She reminded me of our first trimester agreement, I told her the doctor changed my mind and she sighed. “She always does this!” I apologized. I don’t know why. She said that my blood showed an increased probability for Down syndrome but that it was hard to tell without having the first trimester blood screen so I had earned myself a level two ultrasound at UConn. (I remember that so clearly – “you’ve earned yourself a level 2 at UConn.” Like I had somehow schemed all this up to have the fancier ultrasound.) But, whatever. In fact, NICE because now I’d just earned myself the answer to what color nursery I’d be decorating a few days sooner than planned.
Gender is all I cared about. Like many unsuspecting moms-to-be out there, I was blinded by that proposition. Fortunately for me, my doctors didn’t find one single Down syndrome marker on my fetus (who, in fact, has Down syndrome) that day. Thank God. Because I was not at all prepared to receive that news that day.
This was five years ago, back in the olden days. Before the new tests that can detect T13, T18 and T21 as early as 10 weeks – AND TELL YOU THE GENDER!
When I hear about friend after friend after friend taking these tests “because I just couldn’t wait to find out the gender!” I say a little prayer that they truly are prepared for the news they may be on the verge of receiving. Because while those companies dangle the sparkly gender card in front of so many pregnant mamas faces, what’s behind it could be the biggest ethical decision they are not prepared to make. And behind that decision are doctors and midwives like the ones I had – who are not at all educated in preparing those mamas.