My first daughter was doing well and about 3 ½ years after her birth, we were pregnant again. This child wasn’t planned, and she was a bit of a surprise. We were in a financially difficult situation and we were concerned about housing, bills, groceries, and life’s living expenses in general. Even so, I started my prenatal care. My primary care was provided by University of Illinois. They were great in providing care, and education through my first pregnancy, and this second one.
Everything was going well at first and there were no problems. In my second trimester, things began to change. The doctor scheduled me for an amniocentesis to test for Downs Syndrome. I was apprehensive to undergo the test because of the chance of infection, but I decided to go through with it. When the results came back, the doctor called and said “the numbers were off.” The numbers on the test indicated our baby could be born with Downs Syndrome. My heart began to hurt. I only had a vague idea of what Downs Syndrome was, so my doctor suggested that we should go to Genetic Counseling.
What is Genetic Counseling? I had no idea. The Genetic Counseling session was in a small hospital room. I don’t remember who the counselor was or her title. All I remember is sitting there with my husband while the lady explained to us the test results – the likelihood that my child has Downs Syndrome. The counselor then proceeded to speak of “an alternative” to having the baby: an abortion.
I was shocked.
My baby was my baby regardless of whether she was considered by society’s standards to be “abnormal!” I was at counseling to get professional help and all the professional could suggest was an abortion!
My husband and I had heard enough. Shocked, we left the office.
I couldn’t even consider it. The moment we found out we were pregnant, we fell in love with our baby. If we were to have a baby with Downs Syndrome, we would learn how to care for her and nothing would hold us back from falling completely in love with our second girl.
For the rest of the pregnancy Downs Syndrome is all I thought of. We researched to learn how to best prepare for a Downs baby. Excited and overjoyed, we were ready to welcome our second baby girl into the world. As my baby girl was born, the doctor surprisingly stated, she has no signs of Downs Syndrome.
We were shocked.
So many thoughts ran inside of me. The main thought was dismay because I still couldn’t believe just a few months back professional doctors suggested I abort my baby girl.
My daughter is now 20 years old. She is a happy, caring, intelligent and wonderful person. She is the jokester of the family, artistic, sensitive, and lively. She has always done well in school, and is now in her 2nd year of college. Would her personality have even changed if she had Downs Syndrome? She would be the same funny, sensitive, and caring girl.
While our girl was not born with Downs Syndrome, children with Downs are so kind, loving, and joyful. The dignity of their life is not diminished because they don’t follow society’s determination of normal.
My advice to mothers in my situation is to realize that doctors do not know everything. When you are trying to make your choice, choose two things: First, choose to make your own informed decisions. Do your own research. Speak with other women that have gone through these situations so they can encourage you and support you.
I know two other women who went through the same situation as me. We share stories and smile over our miracle babies – 90% of babies who have a potential for Downs Syndrome are aborted.
Second, choose love. Abortion was not an option for us women and our husbands because we had already fallen in love with the precious life that was living inside of us. I can only imagine that every one of those babies – with or without Downs Syndrome – were going to be the light of his or her parents’ life. In our case, abortion was not an option because regardless of the potential for Downs Syndrome, our baby girl was going to be perfect.
Sarah Nation is a mom of three and enjoys photography on the side. She is a member of In Life Church and is an avid crafter in her free time.