“When the test says ‘pregnant,’ your child’s life, your life, flashes before your eyes. I had nine months to imagine the child I would have in the near future.
Thoughts flitted across my mind – would it be a girl or a boy? I’m going to have a baby! What if I’m a bad mother? Would I make a better mother if my child was a boy or a girl?
What will my child’s appearance be like? Are they going to be amusing? Smart? I need to teach my child, especially a daughter, independence. Will she have a plethora of suitors? Prom, oh guy! If I produce a boy, I must make certain that he learns how to treat women. When do I have to show up? When will I be able to find out?
My pregnancy progressed without incident. Heartburn, nausea, and tiredness were the only symptoms. The ultrasounds were always clear, and I made sure to inquire about amniotic fluid, her neck, and the length of her limbs. ‘They all looked terrific,’ I was told. I told my doctor in my 39th week that I was dizzy and had a headache at work earlier that day.
She wanted me to get a stress test and an ultrasound because I hadn’t experienced any of these symptoms throughout the pregnancy. I went to the hospital for the ultrasound and waited in one room. I was both elated and apprehensive. ‘Something is wrong,’ I said to my husband after what seemed like an eternity of waiting.
Finally, I got the nurse to confirm that I would be admitted. On ultrasound, they discovered fluid in the baby’s left lung and stomach.
They rushed me into the surgery room for a c-section emergency. A neonatologist and NICU team were present. I was afraid and anxiously clutched my husband’s hand. She was finally born, and we heard her cry for the first time.
We exchanged glances, full of joy, happiness, love, wonder, and amazement. It was the greatest joy I had ever felt. At the same time, I heard the words, ‘She has Down syndrome traits.’ What had been the happiest time of my life had now become the darkest.
The geneticist came into our room later that night and introduced herself. Her introduction was direct and succinct. She indicated that she had gone to meet our baby and that she did, in fact, have Down syndrome. She explained that she will perform the blood test to provide us with a definitive answer.
She went on to discuss Down Syndrome and how things have evolved for persons with the condition in recent years. She claims they are adored and have become “the school’s pet.”
The life I had pictured collided and disintegrated in front of my eyes. I had the impression that I was in an empty room with the strewn pieces of her life. It was as if a tornado had ripped through the room, and I was caught in the middle as her life was ripped apart all around me.
I grieved over sleepovers she’d never have, the torn and shredded prom gown she’d never wear, report cards boasting of the honour roll frayed and flying past me like snow, first kisses she’d never had, drowning in heartache tears she’d never shed. Images of her going for college and late-night conversations leading up to her wedding were shattered into a million pieces.