Would you parent a child with Down’s Syndrome? This is a decision every pregnant woman is implicitly asked to make around the beginning of her second trimester. That’s when she’ll be offered prenatal screening for chromosomal abnormalities in her fetus.
Motherlode has a thoughtful essay about a mother’s decision to refuse prenatal testing. Her first child was born with Down’s Syndrome, and doctors have pressured her to test for the syndrome in her second and third pregnancies.
She acknowledges that there’s power in information; knowing your child will be born with a serious developmental disorder can help you prepare for the parenting challenges that lie ahead.
But that’s not why we’re offered these tests. Most doctors will recommend that a pregnancy be terminated if the baby is carrying an extra chromosome. Because she would welcome another child with Down’s, she’s chosen to sidestep the testing process and the inevitable pressure to abort.
I hear where she’s coming from. I refused these tests with both of my pregnancies, too.
When I was pregnant with my first child, our midwife suggested I decline the standard roster of prenatal testing: the things that screen for birth defects like spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome.
I was 25, healthy, with no history of these issues in my family or my husband’s. I wasn’t facing the kind of hard decision Motherlode’s guest poster grappled with. But I was signing waivers declining standard parts of prenatal care.
I did it because of a question the midwife asked me. ‘Would you end this pregnancy, if the tests came back positive?”
I knew the answer to that in an instant: no. I was committed to the baby I was carrying. I wasn’t going to terminate my pregnancy. If she was born with a birth defect, we’d deal with it, just like we’ll deal with it if one of the kids becomes sick or injured now. I’d already begun to love her and parent her, no matter who she turned out to be.
What about you? Did you accept the prenatal tests? Do you wish you’d made a different choice?
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