I've been thinking about prenatal testing for Down syndrome a lot lately. We didn't have any prenatal testing, mainly because I never really thought anything could go "wrong." And I guess I thought it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
There's a lot of discussion out there about the benefits of having a prenatal diagnosis. Some wonderful members of my lifeline, the Babycenter Down syndrome board have an indispensable website, Down Syndrome Pregnancy, as well as a fabulous new book for expectant parents with a prenatal diagnosis of T21. Following them online has been great. To see them offering real and current information to parents who are continuing their pregnancies is so important. Because, from what I hear, a lot of the information that is given to people with a prenatal diagnosis is out of date and presented in a very grim light.
You see, a lot of people may not take the time to read the lovely blogs that I read. To hear about Miss Ollie Faith, recently with her repaired heart and hear her momma's words. Or read about Calvin and his family or any of the many parents and children I am lucky to be getting to know. I am grateful to have access to these parents' thoughts and words and photographs and am excited about the growing community we are now a part of. (Feel free to check out the list of blogs I follow on the sidebar.)
And sadly, more than 90% of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Ds choose to terminate the pregnancy. Right now I am listening to Cora babble in her bed, just awake after a good night's sleep, waiting for me to come in for my first morning kisses. In a few seconds I will go in and see her beautiful little smile, all for me. And I can't imagine not choosing to get to live with that smile.
It is heartbreaking that the decision about what life is worthy of continuing is being made every day. Because how can you not think that this little girl is worthy of life?
There is a new prenatal test that will be available soon that should be able to diagnose Ds with a simple noninvasive maternal blood test as early as 8 weeks into the pregnancy. And there's quite a bit of discussion about the likelihood that the termination rate will go up even higher, when people are afforded that choice so early into pregnancy. Some are excited to think that the incidence of Ds could decrease dramatically with this new test. But for many of us it is not without conflict. Check out this article for more insight.
But it is a painful thought to all the families that feel so blessed by the children that happen to have been created with an extra chromosome. Because our children are worthy of life. They are worthy of everything.