So a week ago, Ryan, Lincoln and I went in for the 12-week ultrasound - if you missed this post, you can check it out here. Basically, the ultrasound came back completely normal in terms of baby's anatomic health and any risks of Down syndrome. This was absolutely great news. At the appointment, I also gave a finger prick of blood dripped onto several parts of a paper. This blood test was then sent to a lab for further testing to figure out my odds for Down's and (I believe) Trisomy 18.
Today, I received the call from the doctor. I answered, knowing it was a number associated with the hospital. The doctor informed me who she was and why she was calling, "I have your test results," she said. My heart dropped based on her tone - or maybe it was that buzz word "test results" that made me tingle. Either way, I was on pins and needles awaiting the news.
She proceeded. "Your test results came back completely normal. The blood test tests for any risk of Down syndrome and Trisomy 18." I instantly breathed a huge, huge sigh of relief and a bit of tears began to well up in my eyes. She continued, telling me the odds my baby had for both Down's and Trisonmy 18. She compared this number based on my age and the risks associated with that. Apparently, the odds go up significantly year by year. Crazy. I believe she said that my odds of Down's were 1 in some six thousand (way over that of my age risk), and the odds of Trisomy 18 were 1 in some eleven thousand - again, way over that of my age risk.
Personally, I try to put my finger on why these tests are so scary - besides the obvious. The other day I was having a conversation with someone, who asked if we were finding out the gender of the baby this time. I informed them that we were not going to find out the gender of the baby. They then asked, "Well, do you have a preference?" I responded with the general answer, "Nope. Just want a health baby." As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I seriously pondered the statement I had just said aloud as if I said something completely offensive. While it is a completely hard-wired, habitual response to such a common question, I realized in that moment that my response could have also been a completely offensive way of responding to such a heart-wrenching, sensitive and personal topic. What if my baby isn't healthy? And what about all of the babies who are not healthy? As my husband says, every life is a dignified life. So why would I say such a thing when responding? I would love our baby despite any health complication - so why did I say that? And why do WE say that?
Today, I think about the fear I felt when receiving my test results. I also think about the fear I felt while at the 12-week ultrasound. I pray for a healthy baby and fear anything other than that. But why do I pray so hard and fear so much the news of anything other than a healthy baby? And continuing that thought further, what if the test results and/or ultrasound came back unfavorable? Maybe it's my pregnancy hormones, but the thought of that or the thought of any parent having to hear that information makes me tear up. But, I can't figure out the root of the issue. Do those feelings stem from love of the child or love of self or love of both? Do you feel for the child and what they might have to endure in the future because of a disability? Or is it that you fear having to raise a child with special needs and hope you can give them what they need? Or do you blame yourself for what has happened? Is it a combination of all of the above? Ah. I don't know. All I know is women and men who raise children with special needs are heroes. God seriously blesses them in a way that leaves me speechless. I don't know the thoughts that would enter your mind if the news went any other way than it did, and I can only pray for those who do.
Cate and I have different opinions as to whether the nuchal translucency test is even something you should have done or not. Cate forewent the test with her son Lucca. I got the test done with Lincoln and also had the test done with my current baby. I think I understand her reasoning for not getting tested - and I will let her respond to this post on her own time - but I believe it is because either way, as I said earlier, she is going to love that baby and have that baby no matter WHAT. Healthy or not, that baby is coming, so why bother having the testing done?
I, on the other hand, am a little more conventional. While pregnant with Lincoln, I discussed the testing with my doctor. At that point, I didn't even know Cate (or anyone for that matter) could choose to forego the test. My doctor told me that she highly, highly recommends getting the test done - so I pretty much just took her word for it. If something were to happen she said, you will want to be prepared. Not only that, but there are support groups you can join to further prepare yourself. Not giving at a second thought, I agreed to go forward with the test. Plus, something inside of me wanted to know. By all means, I can wait 9 month for the gender of the baby, but the health of the baby is something I needed to know immediately. Ryan and I had decided that whatever the news was, we were going to have the baby. Something about knowing, somehow made me feel better.
All of this said, I believe this test is a PERSONAL decision and feel that we should be respectful of each mamas decision. Anyways, rock on mamas and a special, special dedication to those wonderful, incredible, amazing, awesome, purple heart mamas, dads and caregivers who take care of sweet little angels with special needs. There is a reason we call them *special* because they truly are.
Keep it real mamas and prayers out to ALL of those sweet little angel babies, especially the specialist angels of them all.