I had my prenatal visit the other day and the PA mentioned that at 18 weeks, if I so choose, I could get genetic counseling, a level II ultrasound, and perhaps an amnio to look for birth defects-specifically Down Syndrome. I am now 35, therefore officially of “advanced maternal age” making the chances of having a Down Syndrome child go up substantially. The more advanced my age, the more “up” my chances go, and from what she described, it seems once I hit 40, well, don’t even try reproducing (ha ha, I just made a funny…”try” ha ha).
She said this is just and offer (about 100 x’s), and not necessary (I had the feeling the fact that i was pro-life showed somewhere). I said I would ask my husband and so I did. He said if it makes me feel comfortable, sure but in his estimation we do not need it. It’s our baby, nothing they reveal would stop us from having the baby, end of story. Good answer. In my pregnancy brain, I flip flop back and forth over the dumbest details and I think were I asked this when I wasn’t pregnant, it would be a cut and dry answer, but now I am emotional and I worry, and am indecisive and I need a partner in all this life stuff to tell me what to do until I’m sane again.
13 years ago, when I was 22 years old and pregnant with my Number 2, Posco, my AFP Triple screen came out “funny” (according to the doctor who left a message on my answering machine). So they sent us to genetic counseling, an ultrasound and an amnio. We of course opted to go because the doctor scared the living daylights out of us and gave me the impression that this was simply the next step after a Triple Screen. And I of course *thought* the idea was to give us a head’s up to prepare for a child who might have special needs (I was actually thinking Spinabifida more so than Down’s).
The genetic-screen-counselor person told me I had about the same chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome as a 35-year-old woman (oh, the irony) which was pretty high (according to them).Before I had a 1 in 1 million chance of having a child with Down’s Syndrome, now it was like 1 in 200 (I don’t remember the exact stats, but they were startling). We had the ultra sound, we had the amniocentesis and the doctor who did the procedure said “18 weeks is still early enough along to take care of it if we find out there is bad news today.” I felt stupid and angry and felt that by participating, I unwittingly contributed somehow to the philosophy that children are disposable. I told my mother this story and she rolled her eyes at my melodrama (as par the course) and said her doctor told her these tests were to perhaps fix an anomaly that could be fixed or to prepare parents in advance.
I know the usual pro-life mom tagline is simply to reject these tests, and I don’t think I had a Triple Screen again after that incident with my following 4 children. Like my husband said, I will most likely turn down the tests this time around. But it makes me wonder: preparing ahead if you have a child who needs special attention does not seem anti-life to me. I think if I had a pro-life, NFP only doctor, I might opt for the tests. Do women who are lucky enough to have NFP only docs, who feel confident that abortion is not an ulterior motive accept these tests? Or do these doctors simply not offer these tests? I guess the overall question is what would women’s health care look like if the industry wasn’t so obsessed with birth control and abortion and you had confidence that your doctor was genuinely trying to take care of you and not sterilize you.