My most difficult moment of pregnancy hit in the second trimester of my first pregnancy.
I had struggled through over three years of infertility’s monthly torture of hope and disappointment and, finally, miraculously became pregnant.
My doctor warned me that early miscarriages were common and I knew she wanted me to remain cautiously optimistic.
But I wasn’t to be included in miscarriage’s statistic. A different set of numbers was waiting to hurt me.
It was around week 16 and I had a minor question to ask my doctor so I went in for a quick visit. I went alone as I usually did and asked my quick question and started to get up to leave.
“Before you go, I have the results of your Triple Test. I didn’t call you with the results because I wanted to tell you in person.”
She told me some numbers that I can no longer remember and then said, “The baby has a high risk of Down Syndrome.” She went on to try to reassure me that the test only indicated a “higher chance of Down Syndrome” and that the numbers indicate a percentage chance, but I couldn’t hear any of that.
All I took in was “My baby has Down Syndrome.” I logically knew it wasn’t confirmed, but it might as well have been.
I burst into tears.
“I can’t. I can’t handle it. I won’t be a good enough parent. I’m not a strong enough person. What am I going to do? I’m not strong enough.”
As I cried and insisted I wasn’t a good enough parent to handle the challenge, my doctor immediately said, “There are options. You could terminate.”
“NO! NO! I would NEVER do that.” I was horrified she’d said it.
“There’s adoption.” She said it so calmly and I was beyond insulted by the suggestion.
“NO! NO!” I cried and cried.
She told me she’d set up an amniocentesis and have her receptionist call me with the time.
I stumbled out of her office and down the hallway. I pulled out my cell phone and sat down on the wooden bench across from the row of elevators.
I was weeping openly in public and I didn’t care. I dialed my husband and told him and then 3-wayed the call in with my twin sister and my mom. With all of them on the phone, I tried to explain what the doctor said. I must have sat there crying into the phone for over an hour.
When I finally got home, I went online. But it was 2004 and I hadn’t started blogging. I had no online community to turn to for answers and comfort. Instead I searched on Google. I read cold medical explanations of the Triple Test and the risks of amniocentesis.
My searches turned up heartless medical articles on the benefits of early detection… but it seemed those benefits were more terminations. I felt like the medical community wanted… EXPECTED… me to get an amniocentesis and then terminate the pregnancy if the result was Down Syndrome.
I felt sick.
When I looked at the risks of harm to my baby from an amniocentesis and I reasoned that I would definitely not take any action based on the result, I knew I wouldn’t have the test done. But I took a few days to try to process all the information and emotions. I then called my doctor’s office, and to their shock, I canceled the amniocentesis.
It was hard not knowing. When I finally pushed beyond pain and brought my Julia into the world, I was scared to find out. But I knew I’d made the right decision.
The next time I was pregnant, my world was entirely different. I was a mom blogger who’d met and learned so much from bloggers who shared the joys and challenges of life with special needs.
For that second pregnancy, I didn’t have a Triple Test. And I knew from the lives I’d witnessed that life with a child who has special needs is truly special and if I was chosen to be part of that group that I could lean upon the strength of the online community and thrive. I admit I prayed I wouldn’t have to… but I knew that help was there and I wouldn’t be alone.
I didn’t end up being chosen for that special group but I thank each and every member for all they do and all they share through their blogs and their lives. If only I’d known some of those mothers when I went into that doctor’s office in 2004, I wouldn’t have felt so alone and pressured to go against my motherly instinct.
I’m so grateful to every blogger who shares their joys and struggles of parenting. We are all stronger together.