*Day 18 of the Dear Gratitude project is really special; my former boss and friend, Jenny Cannon, shares her reflections on her decision to forgo having an amniocentesis procedure prior to delivering her daughter, Claire, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth.*
It has been six months. Six months since I anxiously timed contractions and took a warm bath to ease the pain. Six months since my husband and I nervously laughed and joked about my labor starting one day before my scheduled c-section. Six months since I delivered the most beautiful baby girl I had ever laid eyes on. And six months since we received the diagnosis– Down syndrome.
I have a lot to be thankful for in the last 6 months: a healthy baby, no medical complications, an amazing husband and the love and support of my friends and family. But one thing I’m surprisingly thankful for is that I did not have a prenatal diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong; I did not feel this way in the beginning. In fact, initially I was angry that I didn’t have a prenatal diagnosis. I had 3 high-resolution ultrasounds–how did the doctors not know!?! I said many times “if only I had known, I would have…” But when it comes down to it, what would I have done if I had known that my precious little angel would have 47 chromosomes? I can say for certain I would not have terminated my pregnancy, but that’s where my certainty ends.
Would I have let the myths and stereotypes of Down syndrome negatively affect the remainder of my pregnancy? Would I have let my tears and disappointment get in the way of the love growing in my heart? Would sadness and depression have stopped me from decorating the nursery or buying every piece of baby gear available? Would the nervous laughter and excitement I felt on the way to the hospital have been replaced by dread and fear? Would grief have prevented me from truly celebrating my pregnancy or Claire’s birth? Would a prenatal diagnosis have caused me to give up without giving her a fighting chance? I don’t know.
What would have been different if I had a prenatal diagnosis . . . I will never know, and for that, I’m thankful.
A prenatal diagnosis could not have convinced me that my little baby would be perfect. Or that her smile would light up every room she enters and that she would immediately calm all my worries and fears. Or that the love I would feel for her and the pride I have for her accomplishments would equal the love and pride I have for my firstborn child.
Today I say thank you to the doctor who discouraged me from having an amnio; thank you to the nurse who emphasized the risks involved with having one; and thank you to the sonographers for maintaining their belief that there was nothing wrong with the little girl growing in my tummy. They were right—there is NOTHING wrong with Claire. She is perfect just the way God made her–all 47 chromosomes!