May 01, 2013

Why We Didn't Get Tested

While the special needs of our sons are different, we share a lot in common with the author of this article concerning why we chose NOT to have prenatal genetic testing.

I'm not sure I've written much about our choices publicly before. At the time, the emotions were very raw and I was tired of being judged. But it's been a few years now, so here goes!

I was pretty distraught after our first miscarriage. I tried to get someone to do some tests, but no one would bother after just one miscarriage. By the time we had three, I finally got a doctor on our side - we ended up at a private clinic and had genetic testing done. We were sent to a genetic counselor to break the news - we both had genetic abnormalities and the likelihood of us having a live birth was around 25%. With that also carried a chance of a developmental delay (unspecified) of around 5-10%.

I got that news right before my 28th birthday. I was pretty upset. I wasn't sure at that point that I wanted to try again. Overwhelmed with the news and caring for my ailing father at the same time, I booked a two-week solo trip to England and Morocco and decided I would deal with life when I returned.

I came back with a new perspective. I got pregnant a month later.

When that embryo seemed to be sticking, we were offered all sorts of testing. At first it was gentle prodding, so that we could make an "educated" decision to terminate early. One doctor refused to take me as a patient because I was refusing an amnio. I left that office crying, feeling like I was being accused of carrying a genetic mutant and not a child.

I had to explain over and over what a privilege I felt it was to be carrying any child at all and I truly did not care what was potentially "wrong" with it. I had tried long enough to get pregnant, I wasn't about to throw it away! My belief is that all children come with challenges; no child is perfect, no child grows up and does EXACTLY what their parents want them to do. Such is life. If you cannot accept imperfection in humans, then maybe you should not have children.

We still had a lot of testing done in the form of ultrasounds, but not for the purpose of abortion. They searched high and low for any organ malformations. They kept their eyes on the brain, the kidneys and heart. They found nothing wrong.

In the end the embryo that stuck around became Little Man and he may have some issues, but he's damn near perfect to me. I believe he's been sent to us for a purpose - we all have a purpose - and he makes me a better person.

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