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J. D.'s Story (as told by his Mom)

When I was pregnant with J.D., the results of my AFP were mislaid for a while in my chart (!) so I was almost 5 months pregnant when I finally heard that they indicated that I had a 1:19 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. Following an inconclusive level ll ultrasound, I was strongly urged to have an amniocentesis done. Here in Ontario, the standard procedure is to send the parent(s) to a counselling session with a genetic counsellor, which is usually immediately followed by the amnio. By the time the date for this session had been set, I had already had a week or so to do some research. I knew almost nothing about D.S. prior to this time, and as it turns out, most of what I thought I knew was totally WRONG.

I told the counsellor right off that I had no intention of having an abortion, no matter what, and was loath to have an amnio with it's inherent risk of miscarriage. Unfortunately the attitude here is very pro-abortion and they pushed me very hard to have the amnio, "just in case". I finally conceded, telling them and myself that it would just enable me to be more prepared for a healthy and safe birth experience for me and my baby. Sure enough, I heard a short time later that my baby definitely had D.S., and they were quite put out that I would still not consider abortion. Then they tried very hard to get me to at least consider putting the baby up for adoption. I was highly insulted that they thought some stranger could be a better parent to my child than I.

So for the next 3 months I learned all I could about Down syndrome, until I felt over-loaded with information. Then I put all the books and telephone numbers away and relaxed for the balance of my pregnancy. When the time came, we all had a very positive, relaxed birth experience. Although I had delivered my previous children in a birthing centre, the hospital insisted I deliver J.D. in a regular delivery room in case he had any health complications they had not yet found through various pre-natal tests. J.D. was checked quickly by a paediatrician immediately following birth, and then given to me to nurse right away. A short while later they insisted on taking him to the nursery for a more thorough check, and also insisted tried to insist we stay for 2 days. I hate staying in hospitals and I really didn't want any more of the medical establishments coercions to give up my son, so I sent his dad down to the nursery to get our baby, and he told them that I would agree to stay overnight (12 hours) only if my baby was returned to me immediately. So J.D. and I spent the night getting to know each other, and went home to sleep in our own bed the next morning.

When my family doctor had first explained the AFP results to me, he had told me to remember that while I had a 1:19 chance of having a baby with D.S., I also had an 18:19 chance of having a perfect baby. I feel I was doubly blessed as I had a perfect baby who has Down syndrome. And today, 3.5 years later, I have a perfectly beautiful, healthy son, who has shiny brown hair, big grey-blue eyes, a stubborn streak three miles wide, an infectious grin, oh yeah, and Down syndrome too.

Becky Goldsmith

For More Information on Down Syndrome:

Karen Garver Santorum's Personal Story