Pregnancy is a challenging time for those with a Type-A personality, like myself. When your natural inclination is to control every detail in your daily life, the fact that there is a tiny human growing inside of you (whom you can’t see and who can’t tell you exactly what they need) can be more than a little bit stress-inducing. But after a recent ultrasound, this idea of making peace with imperfection and the uncontrollable unknowns is something that I’ve had to embrace a whole lot more.
Because I am a planner, I always get the 20-week ultrasound during pregnancy. I like to know if I’m expecting a boy or a girl ahead of time so I can plan for a nursery and baby clothes and all those little details. We had the anatomy scan on Christmas Eve and had a fun gender reveal surprise alongside family and friends on Christmas morning. Everyone was so excited to find out that we were expecting another little girl, and the happy occasion was filled with joyful laughter and musings about what this special little girl was going to be like.
Christmas came and went, and I didn’t think about the ultrasound again. I figured if anything abnormal showed up, a doctor would have notified me.
It took a few days, but a call did come.
I was sitting at my computer when my midwife rang to tell me about “a little spot” that had been found on our baby girl’s heart during the ultrasound. She went on to explain that this small, bright, white spot in the left ventricle of her heart was known as an echogenic intracardiac focus (EIF) and while it could mean absolutely nothing, it is also something that is linked to an increased risk for having a baby with one of the trisomies.
I quickly racked my brain to remember what “trisomies” meant and remembered that Down syndrome was Trisomy 21.
“So, my baby could have Down syndrome?”
She said that this little spot is considered to be only a “soft marker” and that 4-5 percent of normal, healthy pregnancies have EIFs show up that turn out to be nothing. But yes, there is a possibility that our baby could have Down syndrome. She continued on, saying that there were no other markers present and that everything else looked great, but I was in a bit of a fog. I didn’t ask any other questions at the time because it was all I could do to hold it together long enough to get off the phone.
After I hung up, I immediately called my husband and cried. Then I googled ALL the things. I looked up worst-case scenarios. I read birth stories from moms who’d had babies with Down syndrome. I looked up all the potential tests we could do. I basically spent the entire day trying to bring order and control to a situation that was completely out of my control.
But at the end of the day, I couldn’t shake this feeling; this voice inside that told me to just let it go.
I thought back to when I knew that we were supposed to try for this third baby. I remember saying for as long as I could remember that I absolutely and unequivocally only wanted two kids. But then I had a change of heart and I knew that our family wasn’t quite complete — we were missing something that only this third child could bring in his or her own special way. We didn’t know what that special “thing” was, but we were eager to find out.
This situation has been a difficult thing to process. But as I’ve sat with this news, I’ve felt at peace; I’m finally OK with the unknown. There are blood tests we could do (or an amniocentesis if we really wanted confirmation), but I am just resting in my unshakeable belief that this child is meant for us. No matter who she is or what her challenges are, she is exactly the little girl we need and we are exactly the parents for her — no matter how ill-equipped we may feel.
I am embracing the unknown of this pregnancy to the very best of my Type-A ability, and letting go of expectations in order to simply let whatever will be, be. I have come to realize that pregnancy is an exercise in letting go, and I am going to hold it all as loosely as I can. I am counting my blessings and acknowledging just how amazing it is to even be able to carry a baby at all. There are so many people who go through incredibly challenging life experiences, and if having a child with Down syndrome is the most challenging thing we go through, then we’re doing pretty great.
I truly believe that there is a reason for all of this and whether or not this little girl growing inside of me has Down syndrome, we are going to love her to the moon. We already do.More On