“I sought the Lord and He answered me. And He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:3
During my pregnancy I was told that it is common to test your baby for Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality. Screening tests (a combination of blood draws and ultrasounds) apparently help you assess your baby’s chances of having this kind of problem. The tests wouldn’t exactly tell us if baby had Down syndrome but results would tell us a ratio that informs us about baby’s chances of having a problem, based on our test results and how old I was.
What’s a chromosomal abnormality?
Chromosomes are threadlike structures in our cells that carry our genes. Most people have 46 chromosomes in each cell, with one set of 23 coming from the mother’s egg and the other set from the father’s sperm.
Biological errors can happen during the early stages of cell division, causing abnormalities in the chromosomes. For example, some babies develop with 47 chromosomes: Instead of 23 matched pairs, they have 22 pairs plus one set of three, a chromosomal abnormality called trisomy.
Often, a woman who conceives a baby with an abnormal number of chromosomes will miscarry, usually early in pregnancy. But with certain chromosomal abnormalities, the baby may survive and be born with developmental problems and birth defects that can range from mild to severe.
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, occurs when a baby has an extra copy of chromosome 21 in some or all of his cells. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality babies can be born with.
Other chromosomal problems that babies can be born with include trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. These abnormalities are almost always associated with profound mental retardation and other congenital malformations. If they survive to birth, these babies rarely live more than a few months.
Anyone can have a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, but the risk rises with the mother’s age. For example, your likelihood of carrying a baby with Down syndrome ranges from about 1 in 1295 at age 20 to about 1 in 82 at age 40.
The advantage of screening is that it gives you information about your baby’s risk of having certain problems without subjecting you to the slight risk of miscarriage associated with CVS and amniocentesis.
BUT, and here’s where my very personal opinion comes in, the disadvantage is that the results can screw with you and get you worrying for the rest of your pregnancy as you keep thinking about the possibility that your baby will be born with a genetic disorder. Or those results get you contemplating further tests like CVS and amniocentesis. And what happens then? What if you actually find out that the percentage of giving birth to a ‘sick’ child are so high that the thought of, well, you know what, pops into your mind?
For Paul and me it was never a question whether we would terminate the pregnancy. God gave us a baby and we believe abortion is murder and therefore a deadly sin. So there was no room to go any further with that thought or discussion. Period.
Back to the tests. Frankly, I didn’t think much about the disadvantages of the screening tests. Looking back, I think I would have preferred not to be tested. And here’s why.
I was identified as being at medium risk for Down syndrom and my ratio was very close to the cutoff. I was horrified.
On a side note: I have to admit that I am a bit of a worrywart. I’m not gonna lie. I tend to blow up issues and keep contemplating the negative side of things. But I’m learning to rely on God and my Faith. God is a good god and He provides and protects. I have many testimonies to prove his goodness.
After Paul and I got the results we met with a genetic counselor to discuss what we could do next. It was clear to us that we didn’t want to do any of the invasive tests that showed a high risk for miscarriage – despite the counselor’s recommendation. So what was left?
We turned to God.
Instead of reading about the disease, I searched for relevant scriptures and Paul and I started praying and meditating on them.
We agreed to not even talk about the “threat” anymore as we didn’t want to speak the possibility of birthing a sick child over our baby. We only shared our fear with our parents and two close friends. We also didn’t ask our team of prayer warriors at C3 San Francisco for support. This was between God and us, our little family.
“…and great will be your children’s peace (shalom).” Isaiah 54:13
The devil comes to kill and destroy. Of course, he wanted to rob us of our joy about expecting a baby. I knew that it was plain evil to make me think my baby wasn’t alright while all the way she was absolutely perfect. And that is what I was teaching myself to think: My baby was God’s masterpiece and therefore healthy and whole.
Our plan of attack worked. A couple of weeks after we received the results, we had successfully pushed all of our doubts and worries away and were back to enjoying our pregnancy (well, putting my aches and pains aside). We trusted God with our baby and for the remaining months of my pregnancy, we actually didn’t think much about the test results.
On December 30, 2010 we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world. Emma Louise was perfectly healthy. Praise God for creating another masterpiece.