To catch up or refresh your memory here is Part 1.
Over the next few days, I felt such sadness. I had many talks with God. What was it he wanted from me? What did he see in me that told him I could handle this? Was he sure? Was this why I had been so compelled to get a degree in, gulp, school psychology?
The joy of my pregnancy started to ooze out. The excitement I had once felt was being replaced with a dullness, and a longing to go back to the time I was blissfully unaware. I crawled in bed one night and finally let it all out. I grieved for what I perceived I may never see my baby be able to do one day. And as I let each little thought go, a new one started to replace it. How was I so sure that if I had a healthy child, I would be guaranteed any of these things? There were no guarantees, no promises for easy walks through life. What if I was putting so much on what I wouldn't have, that I was missing out on what I did have? I still had a baby. I was pregnant. A pregnancy that had take me three years to achieve. What happened to the joy that used to bring me? I also couldn't help but remember Ruth's words, "every baby is a miracle."
As I thought of each little thing, I began to build on them, this base of acceptance I was creating. It was tiny and fragile, but it was better than the free-fall of thoughts that I had been in before.
A week trudged by slowly. I awoke with resolve and a scratchy throat the morning of the "big stick." I had spent my week reading up on the tests and some of the possibilities the tests were trying to either rule out or diagnose. But it still felt so foreign to me. I couldn't believe the woman responsible for teaching her patients about "denial" was swallowing a mighty dose of it herself.
We already knew we did not want to find out the sex of the baby. The ultrasound tech was brisk and business-like. She carefully explained what she was looking for, what measurements she was taking and what some of the "soft markers" for Down Syndrome were. But I could hardly hear her. I was so focused on needing to just see the baby. I verified for myself, head, torso, arms, fingers, legs and feet. After the baby performed numerous somersaults and flips for us, the radiologist came in to view for himself. He looked for the longest time before he spoke. He could not tell us definitively one way or the other, if he thought the baby had Down Syndrome, but he could say he didn't see any obvious signs of some of the other things we were concerned with.
He caught me off guard with his first question. "What do you plan to do if you find out this fetus has a medical condition such as Down Syndrome?" I was confused by what he was asking us. I sort of gave him a helpless look and said "nothing." We would just love this baby, I mean we already do." He then asked " Are you certain you want to have the amniocentesis? Do you know the risks to possibly aborting a perfectly healthy fetus, if I don't get a good stick with the needle?" Uhhhhhh... I stammered. By this time my throat was on fire, I was hot and tired of laying on my back and he wanted to quiz me?
Thank goodness Rick, who had remained silent to this point, stepped in. He said, "Does the risk of us having a baby with down syndrome outweigh the risk of it being healthy? And therefore the risk of the amnio is worth taking for the information we may get from it? What are the statistics and what do they mean? If you were us what would you do? And that is when the doctor said, "if it were me, since you have already decided to have this baby, why risk the amnio? I will still do it if you want me to. But I think you stand a better chance of aborting a perfectly healthy fetus, than you do of having a baby with down syndrome."
In that moment, my burning desire "to know," disappeared. Gone. I was completely and utterly at peace, with not knowing. I may still have been in denial, but I no longer felt burdened by the possibility of what was to come. It was a little surreal and its somewhat difficult to put into words. I just didn't feel compelled to know.
However, Dr. Johnson was not amused. For being 4'11 and all of 100 pounds, you did not want to see her get her dander up! Oh, I riled her up good. She paced, she sputtered, she threw a fit. Didn't I realize my afp test result was the LOWEST score she had ever seen? Hadn't I been told that? No, I calmly told her. "Yes," she repeated, "in all of my 17 years as an OB, yours was the lowest." Didn't we need to know?
I told her I only needed to know one thing, could she deliver a baby with down syndrome? Yes, she could and she had, twice before. And I think when she saw that I wasn't being swayed by her, she started to relax. She pulled up a chair and then noticed my flushed face. She felt my forehead and as she did I mentioned my throat. She took one look at it and took a throat culture. When the rapid result came back as positive for strep throat she came in and hugged me. Then she apologized. She had jumped to the conclusion I would want to know and admittedly, she realized, not knowing was okay to. She promised in the future she would have this talk with her patients BEFORE they went to have any tests done.
I don't know that Rick or I ever looked back after that visit. I had no more ultrasounds, no more tests. I just went back to having normal doctor appointments. We didn't even talk about it. Or share it with very many people. I don't think we were trying to hide anything, we just didn't know anything very concrete to tell anyone. I had also started to realize, this baby didn't deserve any less of me. So I went back to pouring myself into mothering this little person inside of me and in no time I was feeling the elation of kicks and somersaults again.
With my due date looming, May 14th, (Mother's Day) I went in May 10th for my last check-up. I had hit the uncomfortable phase finally and was having shooting pains from the pressure on my sciatic nerve. Dr. Johnson proposed an induction for the next day. She chuckled when I mentioned a birth plan and said "Murphy's Law tends to interfere quite a bit when it comes to plans and births." but she would follow my wishes to the best of her ability.
We arrived early for our induction. Dr. Johnson came in to break my water. She took the "crochet hook" instrument and proceeded to make the tiniest opening. I felt the warmth slowly trickle out and as I looked down I heard Dr. Johnson. Oh Sh@#! She exclaimed. Let me tell you, when your very kind and well-mannered doctor swears, you know two things... something just went wrong and your birth plan more than likely just flew out the window... to be continued...
(I am not intentionally dragging this out, but as fate would have it, I have a scratchy sore throat and cough and have been resting as much as possible :)
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