Tests Said He Had Down Syndrome

“Sheila” was so excited. A positive pregnancy test!  Her and her husband wanted another baby. After 2 miscarriages, they tiptoed through the next 12 weeks. Praying they would be able to carry this baby to term. Imagine their elation when they finally entered the second trimester and the baby seemed to be doing fine.

That elation was short lived though. At their 5 month check up an ultrasound indicated their baby had Down Syndrome. Sheila’s age gave her a 1 in 950 chance of having a Down Syndrome baby. The ultrasound lowered that risk to a one in 98 chance. Further testing indicated a one in 58 chance of Down Syndrome. How can this be? They prayed for this baby. They waited a long time. A previous pregnancy indicated a minimal chance of Down, but an ultrasound that time said no. They were already dealing with one child with medical problems. How could they go through this again? An amniocentesis was another option. But the chance of preterm labor increased with that procedure. Could they deal with a premature baby as well as Down syndrome?

The next few months were spent in a lot of late night conversations. Abortion? Adoption? Parenting? How can we afford it?  Is it fair to the other children? How will the baby be accepted by our families? What about schooling? The final conclusion was to continue the pregnancy, but look at a possible adoption if the baby had Down Syndrome.

The remaining months were full of tension and wondering. And of course many prayers for a miracle or the grace and strength to do what was best for the baby. As they neared the delivery, Sheila also developed other medical complications needing surgery. But pregnancy made surgery impossible.  Doctors finally decided to induce labor and deliver the baby 3 weeks early so Sheila could receive the medical treatment she needed for her other medical problems.

I think I sense the tense moments in that delivery room. There had to be a sense of disappointment in Sheila and her husband. I am sure there were whispers among the staff as they prepared to handle a “not-so-normal” birth. Can you feel the tension building along with the contractions? The anticipation? Even the relief of finally “knowing” and no longer wondering?

Sheila tells me she remembers looking at her newborn and thinking that he didn’t “look” a lot like Down syndrome children. But still waiting for several minutes while the nursery staff examined the baby. She also told me the pure relief she felt when they returned her baby and made the comment, “This baby doesn’t have Down Syndrome!”

I asked Sheila what her first words were. She said, “Thank God. I was so happy!” I still see the smile that covered her face when she showed us this perfect little baby and the tears in her eye’s when she told me, “Miracles do happen!”

Two days later, Sheila had surgery to correct the other medical problems, then took a perfect baby home to a loving family that waited a long time for this addition to their family.

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