To know or not to know.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When I found out I was pregnant for the second time I was excited and relieved, as well as being completely freaked out. I knew what my body was going to go through and that before the year was out we'd have a baby to look after.
My thoughts were consumed by how to deal with morning sickness, whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, what names I liked and whether or not we should splurge on new and fancy baby goods.
We had an eight week scan to check the heart beat and the due date, everything was fine. When my Doctor asked if we wanted a 12 week scan to check for Down Syndrome we said no. Partly because we would have the baby regardless, and partly because I took for granted that our baby would be fine.
As I lay looking at the monitor during my 18 week scan I asked the Sonographer if everything looked normal. She said yes. She also told us we were having a girl and a wave of excitement rushed over me. At that moment I felt ecstatic. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
As I paid and waited for our photos, the Doctor who checks the scans asked if she could talk to us for a moment. A wave of dread rushed over me. She explained that our baby had short long bones, and that it could be a sign the baby had Down Syndrome, she also looked my five foot nothing frame up and down and said it could just be genetics. It was comforting to know that it could just be the fact I come from a long line of shorties, but we couldn't rule out the possibility of Down Syndrome.
We had the last appointment on a Friday afternoon, so we couldn't even call our trusted Doctor to discuss what we'd been told. I cried on the way home.
That Sunday after a long phone conversation with my Mum about how helpless I felt, out of the blue, my Doctor called. Yes on a Sunday. He said he was in the office doing some paper work when he saw my ultrasound results. He talked me through the options we had and told me about the risks of having an amniocentesis. I ruled that out then and there. He told me not to stress and that we would just have to play the waiting game.
Over the next few weeks I tried not to think about it. Then one night as I was reading my favourite blogs I stumbled across Natalie Falls and her story about her second son Elias who was born with Down Syndrome. I cried as I read through her inspirational blog. It prompted me to do some research about Down Syndrome to get a better idea of what it actually is. I was also ready to have a proper conversation about it with my Husband. I filled him in on what I had learnt and we started to make some plans. After that I felt a lot calmer about things and new that we would be ok no matter what happened.
After 22 weeks of waiting, wondering and planning our perfect and healthy daughter arrived. Short long bones and all.
Would it have been better to be blissfully ignorant of our baby's short long bones or was it better to know there could be a chance she had Down Syndrome?


  1. Hi Ingrid, we naively had the 12 week DS test with our eldest Miss C and were told by a very shocked and upset Ob that the results showed 1 in 37 chance which apparently was extremely high risk. I think it was his reaction which made me freak out so much. He told us we needed to urgently have an amnio. I cried all the way home but hubby said that nothing had changed just because of the news and he was right. Like you, we opted not to have the amnio, as we would have the baby anyway and all it would do is confirm it but with the risk of losing the baby. I went to see my GP and he told me that most people would have the amnio and terminate the pregnancy but if we wouldn't terminate then he advised not to have the test. I was relieved to hear someone be so direct about it. So we went through the rest of the pregnancy knowing that we had a russian roulette chance of 1 in 37 but knowing that if God had given us a special needs baby then he knew what he was doing. We found out at 20 weeks it was a girl and named her, so she would be my daughter in my mind and not a 'disabled foetus'. I researched about what to expect -- the need for early intervention and the possibility of urgent heart surgery. The day she was born it was emergency delivery with forceps and vacuum and the room was full of people and when she was born everyone just looked down and stared at her then a midwife looked up at me and gave me the thumbs up and mouthed 'she's perfect'. Another Dr in the room said 'Well they got that one wrong didn't they!' I guess with the topic of knowing or not, I think I was better prepared for it having the idea in my mind. It would have been shocking to have the baby and find out there problems if I hadn't been prepared. And so with the next two we chose to have the 12 week scan, even though we wouldn't terminate, just to get a heads up sort of thing. The risk for the next two was tiny, verging on them guaranteeing the baby did not have DS. It's a blessing to have a healthy baby but I think I was set in my mind that DS would be ok and we would just take a different path in parenthood. We were also told at the 32 week scan that she had unusually short legs so we started calling her Stumpy. She's just fine, normal legs, just not the height for catwalk modelling :) Hope it all is going well. Jane


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