This month marks a strange anniversary of sorts for me. It was 2 years ago this month that I was sitting in a chair looking at my unborn baby in 4D. She was precious! We had previously found out that our baby had several “markers” for down syndrome and had enlarged kidneys which may have required surgery upon birth. Thus we were monitored more carefully and had a ton more ultrasound shots at a hospital. This was the first level 3 ultrasound with this pregnancy (I had had one with my 3rd with no problems). I got to gaze upon my baby for almost a full hour – it was wonderful! I was there alone as my husband was out of town. The specialist doctor called me in after the ultrasound to go over the findings. The first words out of his mouth to me were “Well you will have to come in tomorrow for your abortion because of how far along you are.” I was utterly shocked and devastated. All I could do was mutter “What??????” He then proceeded to tell me that my baby had more “markers” for down syndrome and it didn’t look good. I was more shocked that his automatic assumption was that I would abort my baby. I almost couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me in that office. All I wanted to do was run as far away from that man as possible.
As soon as I was able to speak again I called my doctor. He was able to calm me down and after talking to him I decided against the amnio to find out for sure and thus my pregnancy went on not knowing whether or not I was going to have a baby with down syndrome. For me at that point the risk of miscarriage outweighed the need to know. What I did do was to research as much as possible about down syndrome to prepare. What I found out is what I want to remember and never forget. I do not know what the implications of this knowledge will be for my life but I am confident that this ordeal was not an accident. I found that over 90% of babies that are diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted. Those words the doctor spoke to me were for a reason and out of his experience. This has chilled me to the bone. Another fact I found was that even if your baby is diagnosed with down syndrome there is no way to tell what function level the child will be at. Some children with down syndrome go on to graduate from high school and lead independent lives. Others will require continual care. The point is that they can not tell you what the function level of the child will be. Having a special needs child is hard. It is life changing. It alters the family in ways that are not predictable. But who are we to judge who lives and dies?
Our fourth daughter was born in August with no physical problems. Her kidneys were fine and she did not have down syndrome. What my heart went through in the months of not knowing I hope and pray will never leave me.