Friday, September 22, 2006

three is the magic number

I tested positive for the Down's Syndrome gene during my pregnancy. I'd submitted to the testing the day after we got back from two weeks in Central America (or otherwise known as how we came to fall in love with Belize) so I was jetlagged and didn't think much about it until I got a call from a genetics counselor. These cats are so serious. And the appointment was serious. Moderate risk of child being born with DS. Please get amnio.

Even though I've had my head up my ass since the second I got pregnant, I was coherent enough to know that the risks of miscarrying from an amnio are about the same as M having DS. And we'd seen her by now - her little fingers and toes and kidneys and perfect little spine. She was real to us, and real enough to know that if DS was our roll of the dice, so be it. Given my previous post, I might assume folks reading might think "ungrateful bitch. get an abortion if you don't want to have a kid". Strangely, I never considered it.

M makes her appearance. I'll save you the details because giving birth is a very common phenomenon. However, right after she was born they brought in a specialist who said "I am not entirely convinced she has Downs." Not "I am not entirely convinced she doesn't since that silly test said she might, and hell, she looks great, so let's just rule it out." Oh, and we won't have the results for 2-3 weeks.

2-3 weeks were spent analyzing her every expression and movement. To decide to a degree of analytical certainty if that particular instance warranted the "maybe she does....", or "think that facial expression looks like....?" We were very scientific about the whole thing, obviously.

I remember being in the kitchen when the phone rang. I recognized the hospital prefix on the caller ID. Negative. Hysterical laughter while hanging up on the genetic counselor. Screaming, crying, hugging while sobbing on our knees on the kitchen floor. We didn't know we had that much pent up till it all came running out that sunny fall afternoon.

16 comments:

crazymumma said...

And you would have loved her just the same if she had tested positive....

We had the exact same experience. I had sort of forgotten about it but your last couple of posts made it all come rushing back. We got a call after the ultrasound, and so I decided for the blood test. It came back negative.
But we had already made our decision. we were already in love with our unborn baby, and whatever came, we would take. The universe has its reasons I suppose.

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing that. I am going to go grab a kleenex now. Really.

Ruth Dynamite said...

After my son was born with birthmarks that increased his likelihood of having devastating seizures, and the doctors told us that he would likely have seizures in the first year of life, we lived moment by moment, analyzing his every move.

He's five and a half now and never (knock on wood) had a seizure.

Sometimes you have to look at what's in front of you and judge for yourself. Glad everything turned out OK for you.

bella said...

This was a beautiful post. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog.

deelovelee.typepad.com/mamamuses/

Mommy off the Record said...

Wow, I can't imagine how difficult that wait must have been. It's obvious you would have loved her the same regardless, but it still must have been so hard being in limbo and not knowing.

Thank you for sharing your story.

acumamakiki said...

Those false positives are so FREAKING scary and I'm glad that it was just that, a false positive. Hurray for trusting your instincts and knowing what you were capable of, if the situation was reverse. I have a lot of respect for parents that can go that road.

Mary P. said...

This was a great post. I've written and rewritten this comment five times now, and can't express what I want to say. My partner describes your decision as 'heroic'. I think that'll do.

I also think it was wonderful that you hung up on the genetics counsellor. Heh.

Jaelithe said...

Hmm, what jerks those medical professionals can be sometimes. From what I understand (my husband has an uncle with Down's Syndrome), the physical manifestations of Down's are usually pretty clear to a well-trained professional, even in newborns. I bet that person who talked to you in the hospital was actually 80% sure she didn't have Downs Syndrome, but was afraid to contradict what someone else had told you.

Knitting Maniac said...

Wow. Beautiful post. Truly.

flic said...

Nice ending to a nice chapter in a story of life.

Lizzy said...

Thanks for stopping my blog... Just catching up with yours.
What a darling picture of M having her birthday cupcake--two candles! And no matter what the results of those tests, you would love her just the same. Those moments are the moments that kick our asses and re-set our priorities.
When I was 6 month pregnant with Henry we were in a car accident. At the hospital, it took the OB 5 minutes to find his heartbeat.
Anyways, looking forward to part 3 of your "two became three" story!

Maritza said...

That must have been an amazingly intense moment. I'm speechless. It's bad enough when you have a baby that you worry about all sorts of thing, to have a test come back positive and then..... it's too much.

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you like my stories.

Penny said...

Found you through Bellezza.. great blog!

nonlineargirl said...

That must have been really scary. It never fails to amaze that clinicians - who you'd think would be GOOD at this kind of thing - often have no idea how to talk to patients without freaking them out.

Mom / Ma'am / Me said...

I can't imagine what that wait must have been like. So happy for you that everything turned out well -- I bet it was like being on an amusement park ride, when you didn't know you were holding your breath until you got off the ride and let it all out again. ;-)

Lawyer Mama said...

My nephew has Down's Syndrome and it's usually pretty obvious right away. He's a beautiful little boy anyway, but his parents are saints nonetheless.

I tested positive (1 in 31 chance) for DS with my first child and man did that scare the hell out of me. The amnio came back just fine so I can understand your relief!

You have some beautiful pics on your site.

bubandpie said...

This was a great post. But I do want to hear more about that ass-kicking birth. Sure, it's a common experience, but that doesn't mean my appetite for birth stories can be sated...