Recently, I had the opportunity to correspond with a lady who is pregnant with a child with Down syndrome, trying to make her choice to parent or abort.
I realized I haven’t written about my experience with prenatal information.
Here’s what I shared with this mom:
On my 1st ultrasound at 8 weeks, I had low amniotic fluid. So they did another ultrasound at 11 weeks. At that ultrasound, they measured for a LONG TIME , then made me wait to see the doctor.
Since Joel & I both needed to get back to work, & the ultrasound tech gave no indication of a problem, Joel headed down to retrieve our car.
The OB said the baby had a nucle thickening. This could signal a trisomy, the mildest of which was Trisomy 21, Down syndrome. She said that some trisomies are not viable with life especially on genes with lower numbers, so the baby might die before she was born. Or I might just want to terminate.
Then she left the room.
What I heard was, “Your baby is probably as good as dead.”
The doctor left me alone in the room for 20 mins while they worked in a referral to a high risk doctor.
I called Joel back from the parking lot, & tried to tell him what they said.
We left there in a fog. We didn’t go back to work. We went to separate rooms. I crawled under the covers in a dark room & mourned the loss of my baby.
Then Joel came in & announced my tummy with oil, praying for God’s hand to be on our child.
So 3 weeks later, I saw the meanest high risk doctor (perinatologist), who banged the ultrasound probe on my bladder & said, “they didn’t know what they were looking at. There’s no nucle thickening.”
We did 2 more high risk ultrasound with another high risk doctor.
We changed to a midwife who understood we didn’t want a test that would endanger our baby, & if something was wrong we wanted to be in a peaceful setting during the birth & death.
We named her as soon as we found out her gender, so we could love a baby girl vs an “it”.
And only once that I can remember, Joel said, “Do you think about if the baby will be born different?”
Sidenote: the mean doctor was stupid! Between 1st trimester & 2nd trimester, nucle thickenings dissolve – so she discounted the sign, I think because I was only 24. It doesn’t matter cuz the other ultrasounds were still checking her heart & organs.
All this happened, even with how God had prepared me for being Arabella’s mom. The 3 summers prior to her birth, I was a volunteer then counselor then director at the most amazing camp in the world, Camp Barnabas in Missouri.
My 2nd summer, I had 1 week with 8-11 yr old intellectually delayed girls, most of which had Down syndrome. They were my favorite people I had ever met. I also had a week with an adult camper with Down syndrome who I fell in love with.
In my prayers, I said to God, “if you have a spare baby with Down syndrome, I want it!”
I don’t believe I told God what to do. I believe this was a fulfillment of Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
He gave me desires that matches the life he had in store for me.
So when those ultrasounds were read, Down syndrome wasn’t my fear. My fear was the unknown, the other things the doctor had said (and not explained!)