Monday, March 19, 2012

It's A Girl...!

We didn't know Julia had Down Syndrome before she was born. My doctor mentioned the screening blood tests at one of my prenatal visits but I didn't follow through right away because my elderly father-in-law, who was living with us at the time, was sick and running a fever, and I wanted to get home quickly. When I mentioned the tests at a subsequent visit, my doctor said that I had missed the window, and the tests would no longer be accurate.

For me, I'm glad I didn't know before Julia was born. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of my pregnancy but I probably would've spent the remaining 6 months worrying. Shortly after Julia was born, the doctor came over and gently said he and the other doctors had noticed some features consistent with Down Syndrome. My first thought was "She doesn't have Down Syndrome, YOU have Down Syndrome." Then my husband turned to me and said he had noticed those features, as well. When they brought Julia back over to me, I looked at her again, and it seemed pretty obvious that she had Down Syndrome. It took almost a month for the results of the blood test to confirm Down Syndrome but we were operating under the assumption pretty much since she was born.

We were among the fortunate when Julia was born. We know people who have had very negative experiences before and after giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Doctors have said things like "You two are going to get divorced. You should've had an abortion," as they weighed and examined the newborn child. I'm so grateful that was not our experience. Everyone at the hospital where Julia was born was kind and supportive. In fact, one of the doctors at the hospital had a friend with an adult daughter with Down Syndrome...and the friend and her daughter ended up visiting Julia and me in the hospital!! It was such an encouragement.

I can see how people would be afraid of a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. It's a medical term, fraught with uncertainty. But looking at Julia, how could I ever be afraid?

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