Parenting

My Experience With Down’s Syndrome Screening

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This day was the first day I cried during my pregnancy.

I was quite excited to go for our first 3D scan. I heard it was a fantastic way to view our baby’s growth and check that everything was ok. I was referred to this particular clinic by my gynecologist. I booked a 20 week scan, but my son was only 19 weeks old (yes, I was that excited).

We sat in the waiting area for a while. It was overcast and drizzling, but I didn’t mind. The nurse/assistant led us into the doctor’s office. Everything was so high tech and stark white, the floors were white and the walls were white. Even the roof was a mottled white and grey pattern. I lay down on the plush white doctor’s table, stomach exposed. She had a big screen ahead of us and a projector. Mr held my hand as she ran her ultrasound equipment over my belly. Everything seemed completely normal. Baby had a very strong heartbeat, brain and lungs were good. Movement was great. I thought we were A for Away.

Then it came to his nose. She said the bridge of his nose was underdeveloped and I stood a 1 in 350 chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome. My head started spinning, her voice became softer and softer until they were completely muted by my thoughts. Down’s syndrome? I’m only 21! What does 1 in 350 mean? What if I’m the 1 in 350 women? I had so many questions running through my mind all at once. Before I knew it the scan was over. She wiped my belly, Mr helped me up and then she pencilled me in for an Amniocentesis without my permission. I told her I’d get back to her on that.

We got home; I hardly had time to process things when my gynaecologist called. She told me that she heard my son had the possibility of having Down’s. Then she asked me when I am going through with the Amniocentesis. I mean really! I wasn’t sure I was going to do anything at all. Mr and I haven’t spoken about it yet or anything. She said that the sooner I did so, the better so that I could make a decision on what I was going to do going forward, because my window period for termination was closing. I broke down. Termination? I hadn’t even thought of terminating my baby. I called my Mom and cried some more. I couldn’t believe this was happening to us.

Mr Googled and researched Down’s Syndrome (Once a journalist, always a journalist) so that we could make a decision on whether to do the Amnio or not. So 1 out of 350 equates to a 0.002% chance of our child having Down’s Syndrome (That’s not even 1%), but the risk of miscarriage due to an Amnio is about 20% in South Africa. So 20% versus 0.002% is a no brainer. I didn’t do the Amniocentesis, because the risk of miscarriage was too high and we weren’t going to terminate the pregnancy even if he had Down’s Syndrome. We would love him the same regardless!

Mr saw something very interesting at that doctor’s office – everyone on the Amnio list had an African, Muslim or Indian surname. Mr is Sepedi and he thought that our son had his flatter nose, which he did. Both of them don’t have much of a bridge in their noses and that’s what triggered the red flag. We found that South African medicine practices are behind too, because the acceptable ratio of Down’s Syndrome in the USA is 1:150, which is more than half the ratio I received.

Above all, I wish I was handled with more care. I know I am a patient, but I wish I was allowed some time to make a difficult and possibly life changing decision. I wish that my gynecologist was kinder towards me and my situation instead of pushing me to do something that I didn’t want to do. I felt like I was just something to make money off of, not a person or a mother with a living being growing inside her.

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Everything worked out in the end, our son was healthy and he inherited his Dad’s fantastic flat nose!

Have you gone for an Amniocentesis before? Have you had similar results to mine? Did you go for a screening before? Let me know by commenting below!

Love and Blessings,

Lindsay Sign Off New

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