I’ve had several folks ask “Did you know?” since Nathan was born. What they want to know is whether or not we knew ahead of time that our baby would be born with Down syndrome. I’m guessing that for every person that feels comfortable asking, there is another person that isn’t, but still wants to know the answer, so I’ll cover that here. The answer is no. We did not have any idea. We rejected all prenatal testing other than the ultrasounds (I had three – at 8, 18, and 31 weeks). Yes, my doctor did offer amniocentesis. We declined.
So…knowing what I know now, would I do it again, or would I choose the testing? I absolutely would not choose testing. I would have worried myself sick and been stressed every waking minute if I had known about Nathan’s diagnosis (and I didn’t sleep much while pregnant as it was, so that would have been a lot of waking minutes!) I will be forever grateful that I was blissfully unaware for all those months. Yes, it was something of a shock, but I never once wavered in my love for this child. I don’t know if that’s because God gave me peace when I needed it or if it was something more deeply maternal at work, but by the time I heard the words “Down syndrome” uttered I had already seen and fallen in love with my baby boy.
After arriving home from the hospital, I began to research Down syndrome in earnest. I have known some individuals with Ds and had a vague knowledge of some of the health issues that the extra 21st chromosome can cause, but I knew I had lots to learn. One statistic that I discovered during my research was that nine out of every ten cases diagnosed prenatally are aborted. When I read that, I felt sick to my stomach. [Feel free to do your own research – I have seen numbers anywhere from 85-93%.] It was at that point that I began to consider the decision to skip the testing as not just a personal choice, but a statement in favor of life. It’s not been so long ago that children with Down syndrome were shut away from society, but that’s simply not the case anymore, and I find it tragic that now, when so many more options are available to individuals with Ds, so many of them are not being permitted to live. I can only assume that people make that choice because they feel they “can’t handle it”.