Monday, November 19, 2012
Pregnancy after Down syndrome.
I know there are many curious people out there, many shocked by the news of a new baby joining our family this May. Those who know me best though, probably not so shocked, since I have openly talked about my desire to have four children for as long as I can remember.
Rest assured, the decision to expand our family was not taken lightly, and was very much planned. In fact more discussion and planning went into this decision than our other three children combined. Why? Because pregnancy after Down syndrome is complicated and in my opinion, super nerve-wracking.
Gone are the days of the care-free ignorance that accompanied my previous three pregnancies. I am now considered "high-risk." So far this pregnancy we have visited a genetic counselor and a high-risk obstetrician. We will go back for a level II ultrasound in December, and possibly a fetal ECHO (heart ultrasound) after than.
All of these added precautions were/are our choice. Mike and I have talked at length about the possibility of having another child with special needs. We, obviously, needed to be open to the chance of it happening, because it is a possibility. However, this time, if at all possible, we want to be prepared.
It is easy to say, "I don't want prenatal testing because I wouldn't do anything, anyway, and I have such a low-risk it really isn't worth it." I know how easy it is to say this, because I said it--three times. I declined prenatal testing with all three of my previous pregnancies. However, until you have been completed blindsided while holding your 1-day old newborn, as you find out she has Down syndrome, or four days later when you find out she has a major heart defect, you really don't know the impact of that statement.
It is because of this that Mike and I chose to have the "new Down syndrome blood test" done. At 12 weeks, they drew my blood and sent it off to a lab in California. Three different companies market/perform this blood test, the one we had done was called Harmony and would give us with a very high degree of accuracy an indication if our baby has T21, T13, or T18.
We did this test so we could prepare, or to bring us peace of mind. My thoughts on prenatal testing have evolved over the past two years, and now especially since I am carrying our fourth child. I know this test has created quite the uproar in the Down syndrome community; however, for us, it presented us with a non-invasive, highly accurate way of finding out early in my pregnancy if our child was going to have T21, T13, or T18.
Two weeks after the blood was drawn, the nurse practitioner called to tell me that the test came back "low-risk" for all three trisomies (with the Harmony test you can get one of three results; low-risk, high-risk, or positive).
Next month we will go and find out if all else is well with this little bean. I am still nervous, and probably will be until the day I deliver this baby. However, I am anxious to see this baby on the ultrasound screen again and hope that pictures of a four chamber heart and perfectly developing kidneys, lungs, brain and every other organ in between bring some more added comfort. I have had many questions about if we are hoping for a boy or girl. I tend to get a little snippy with questions like that because I have to say, that is the farthest thing from my mind. I truly could care less. I will end with the cliche, "My hope is for a healthy baby"....except when I say it, I truly mean it because I know what it is like to have a baby who is not born healthy.