Quad marker– the decision

We’re going with no on the quad marker. Vanessa was pretty against it, but she would have deferred to me. I was conflicted. There are so many unknowns in infertility, and I’ve become a real knowledge junkie, but knowledge isn’t ALWAYS power– just most of the time. I absolutely don’t want an amnio, but I know that if we get a poor result on the quad marker I’ll do the amnio. And I’ll be worried and resentful and feel, well, powerless. I’ve had plenty of that already.

I think I’ve convinced myself that we could love and parent a child with Down’s Syndrome. This has not been easy. Down’s would totally turn my vision of our future upsidedown. It would probably affect both of our careers, and it would completely change our retirement. But I worked with Down’s adults as a teenager, and they were all amazing individuals. I see happy Down’s children at the supermarket, in restaurants, at the mall. Most of the time, their parents look happy too. I think we could deal. I don’t know how much knowing ahead of time could prepare us for parenting a Down’s baby. It doesn’t seem like their care would be too vastly different from caring for an unaffected newborn.

As for the other trisomies– the ones where the baby is almost always stillborn or dies soon after  birth: At this point in the pregnancy, the fetus is far enough along that I think a termination could be more traumatic for me than birthing a dead child. Vanessa reminds me we could have a perfectly healthy baby, and he could get away from us at the grocery store, stumble out into traffic, and get hit by a truck. She could be well until age 5 and then get a rare childhood cancer. It’s impossible to know everything you’re signing up for when you decide to become a parent. You just hold your breath and hope.

I finally buckled and rented a doppler. It got here on Thursday afternoon, and we’ve heard the heartbeat twice. Vanessa thinks it sounds like a train. I think it sounds like when we accidentally leave Max the cat outside, and he beats on the storm door until we let him back in. It’s thunderously loud and consistent. Hearing the heartbeat makes me eager to call this baby by his or her real name, which is something I’d actually been dreading. I’ve gotten very attached to the names we’ve chosen, and I’ve been afraid of giving one of them to somebody who might not be sticking around to be born. In 4-6 more weeks, we’ll be able to use that name, and I’m actually looking forward to it now.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Quad marker– the decision

  1. Good choice. BTW – the u/s that they do at about 20 weeks looks for DS markers and others anyway.

  2. Katy

    Call the baby by her name already! She’s going to be here in just a few months. It can still be a secret between you, Ness, and the baby.

    BTW, I change diapers until things begin to look like baked potatoes or split pea soup (ha – I had to spell check potatoes. Dan Quayle ruined me!) , once this happens I am still in for feeding as long as my hands don’t get sticky and baths, which are clean and what I love most.

  3. Co

    I was away, but from what I’ve read, the quad marker isn’t as reliable as some other tests and you could get a false negative. Nothing short of an amnio is definitive about the trisomies and if you don’t want an amnio, then I think you made the best call for you guys.

    I used to coach Special Olympics and I used to teach the educable mentally handicapped (IQs from 50 to 70). I told Lo a few times that if we were going to pursue me getting pg, she needed to know I wouldn’t terminate a Downs Syndrome baby. (And she agrees with that decision.) It’s amazing to me that several people assumed I would. I don’t judge anyone who chooses to do so, but I worry a little bit when people act relieved after good Nuchal/Quad/Amnio results that reveal no trisomies who then say, “Yay, no retardation!” Um… no, just no trisomy. Most mentally handicapped people don’t have trisomies. No amnio can guarantee anyone that they won’t have a special needs child or a mentally handicapped child. Heck, life doesn’t even guarantee that for a spouse or parent or child or oneself. I could be in a car accident tomorrow and well… So, I worry sometimes when people say, “I’m so glad I got good X results. I could never parent a special needs child.” Cuz babies don’t come with guarantees. I just hope every parent (and every person) who says that is wrong.

    So, you have been able to work the Doppler even! Cool! Pretty soon, you’ll feel the fetus swishing around in there and then kicking and you’ll be reassured all the time. 🙂

  4. Sounds like the very right decision and you guys sound at peace with it. I admire it.

  5. i think you made a good choice. no since in stressing about something that you can’t change for months on end. i can see how one’s pregnancy can turn from joy to sadness overnight.

    i’m sure all will be well, and i’m wishing you the best!

  6. Jen

    Glad you were able to make a choice you both feel comfortable with. Soon you’ll be cuddling baby and all this worry will seem like it was so long ago 🙂

  7. Io

    I’m glad you guys are agreed and feeling ok with your decision. “You just hold your breath and hope.” – that whole paragraph sums up life. I hope that your breathing never falters.

  8. Lo

    Yaaaaaay for the heartbeat!!!

  9. I’m SOOOO glad that you were able to make a solid decision that you both felt good with. It sounds like you have a great relationship built on loving compromise. I agree with you about being able to love and nurture a DS baby as well as a healthy one. You work so hard to get there, and they are still our children, how can you not love em!? I completely agree with Io about breath holding. Take care 🙂 Jen and Michelle

  10. we didn’t do any testing either–because S. is young enough that it shouldn’t be a concern, was healthy, etc.–no, IVF and infertility don’t count as having an unhealthy, not-normal pregnancy and baby and don’t you ever forget that! just because you had a difficult conception doesn’t meant the rest will be hard. and yeah, we both came to the same conclusion–our baby is our baby, for better or worse, lord help us it took us a long time to get it–so good for you two for sticking to non-testing! it can be a lot of pressure, and scary, and hard to resist and confusing, too. your baby is lucky to be loved by both of you so much already!

  11. That’s never an easy decision to make. We always agreed to have the test. It would have made any difference – we would not have chosen to terminate, but I’m the type that likes to watch the bomb as it makes its descent instead of being caught off guard. I’m a reader and a preparer, and I wanted for Frank and I to be ready for what we would have been facing.

    I can understand your perspectives for not wanting to test. Had I read an opinion like yours back when we were still building our family, I probably would have given much greater consideration to not testing.

    “Thunderously loud and consistent” – Love it. 🙂

  12. I’m sure you aren’t the same girl I knew as a child but I imagine your compassion is just the same. If I am right you would be a fine mother to any child.

  13. Renting a doppler to hear your little one’s rhythmic beat? Cool. Interesting idea.

    Glad you’ve come to such a full rounded decision. I didn’t weigh in earlier because you asked to hear from those who have been confronted with the test themselves. I appreciate you raising this out here to think about. Given your current line of thinking, it is clear you’ve made an emotionally sane choice. I can only imagine the myriad of feelings running through your heart given all you’ve been through. I’m hoping you are still feeling well and that even with all the unknowns, and SO many decisions to be made — and I am borrowing a sweet turn of phrase from Bleu’s latest post at soulbliss — I hope there is still an underlying “sparklingly happy” feeling for you too.

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