It was 2005, I was 23 years old and a newlywed when my hand held that doubled lined stick in my hand. After being married less than 2 months, we were already expecting our first child! I had secretly gotten a pregnancy test and took it before I told my husband the wonderful news. He was in our bedroom watching a New York Yankees baseball game when I walked out of our bathroom with the pregnancy test. The look on his face was priceless!
The first few weeks of my pregnancy were normal, nothing besides some nausea. Right around the time my small baby bump formed, it was time for me to go get my 14-week ultrasound. I laid there on the table is awe and loving seeing my baby for the first time on the monitor. I fell in love instantly!
I suddenly looked up at my ultrasound tech who had a concerned look on her face. I knew my baby was alive and had a strong heartbeat. My heart sank as my brain started racing wondering what was wrong. She left the room and brought in a doctor who started doing another ultrasound.
He didn’t say anything to me until he was done, then he looked at me and told me that my baby had multiple markers for having Down syndrome. Short arms and legs, barely any nasal bone, and the nuchal thickening was so abnormal that it was actually considered a Cystic Hygroma or a fluid filled sac. I sat there in shock, I couldn’t say anything. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes but remained silent.
The doctor then told me that I needed to speak with a genetic counselor to go over my options. He led me down a hallway with cheerful pictures but the only thing I could do was silently cry as I walked. I sat down in the genetic counselor’s office. She was sympathetic and started giving me photocopies of various information on Down syndrome and then mentioned getting genetic testing done. I had the option of getting either CVS or Amniocenteses done. CVS could be done as soon as possible, the amnio I would have to wait a few weeks, both would have the same results. She also told me if we would decide to do the testing and the results were positive, that we had the option of ending my pregnancy.
After my appointment, I sat in my car in the parking lot and started crying, I’m not even sure how long I sat there and cried. I felt like I was the only person left on Earth. It was one of the loneliest moments of my life. I finally mustered up enough strength to drive home.
We decided to schedule CVS testing, although no matter what the outcome would be, we could continue on with my pregnancy. Down syndrome or not, this was our first child and we were going to love it no matter how many chromosomes it was going to have!
It took a few days for the results to come back, the doctor called me at home with the results. I had just gotten home from work and looked at the caller ID, my doctor was calling from his house and I knew that doctors only call from home with “bad news.” He told me that it was positive for Down syndrome and that I was having a boy.
I went into complete and total hysterics. My husband wasn’t even home from work yet, I had just received the most devastating news of my life and I was home alone. I tried calling my husband and he didn’t answer, I called my mom who was 12 hours away in Ohio. She calmed me down and told me to call my mother in law who was a bit closer. By that point, my husband came home and my in-laws came over. We all sat there in silence trying to absorb the news.
As the weeks and months went on, we started focusing less on the Down syndrome portion and more on the fact that we were having a baby. We still educated ourselves on Down syndrome, I read every book I could get my hands on. At times I was perhaps obsessed over not knowing what other health problems associated with Down syndrome my boy was going to have. I actually had to stop reading and focus on him as a person and not a diagnosis. By the end of my pregnancy, we had gotten over the “grieving process” of knowing our baby was going to have Down syndrome. We were just excited to be having baby!
On March 14, 2006, besides having Down syndrome, after an 18-hour hard labor, I delivered a healthy baby boy that was truly perfect to us, extra chromosome and all! My mother in law said it best, “he’s perfect!” My doctor that delivered Joey told me a few years later that Joey’s birth was one of her most memorable births, because of the way we loved him instantly and celebrated his birth.
I often look back on my pregnancy with Joey and realize that we were chosen to be his parents. I’m so grateful that God gave us the chance to be such an extraordinary child’s parents. The love he gives us is so amazing and I can honestly say, there’s never a dull moment in our lives thanks to him!
Pslam 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.