So 2015 started off on a sad note for us.
Excited, we went off to the Fetal Assessment Centre in Claremont, Cape Town on 9 January for the first 3D scan of our second child.
We walked into the consultation room, thinking that maybe today we would find out the gender of our child.
Bad news and uncertainty
Instead, we received only bad news and were plunged into uncertainty. The baby, a girl, is active and moving around, with her limbs intact, but she has all the markers for Down Syndrome, which includes water behind the neck, no nose bone and seemingly a heart defect. The protein marker in my blood work for Down Syndrome is also slightly elevated.
Already devastated, I immediately underwent the next screening test.
So the next step was to take the rather painful Chorionic Villus sampling test. A needle was pressed through my abdomen, after I was given a local anaesthetic, which doesn’t seem to help much, to collect some of the placenta cells.
The placenta has the same genetic makeup as the baby, so this test would tell us with certainty if the baby has Down Syndrome.
Risk of miscarriage
There is an increased risk of miscarriage, but with all the genetic markers already present in our other tests, we had no option but to take this one.
So I just received the results, which confirms a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome with a heart defect. At least I wasn’t expecting any good news and had already prepared for the worst.
It is a sad fact that now we will have to kill our daughter. It is especially difficult to do after already seeing her alive on the scan.
This seems to be the only option:
- A baby with Down Syndrome might not even survive the duration of the pregnancy.
- We don’t have the time or financial resources to look after a severely ill and disabled child. I also need to work to contribute to the household budget.
- I do not want to doom a child to a life of hardship.
- It won’t be fair on my son, as most of my attention will be taken away from him.
- Who will look after her one day when my husband and I are gone? It is also not a burden I would want to place on my son.
So, although it is a sad decision, in my mind it will be in the best interest of everyone to terminate this pregnancy.
And it has made me appreciate my healthy child even more.