Monday, June 2, 2008

Such a Blessing

I feel like it was a blessing I didn't know Joaquin had Down syndrome until just recently.

I opted not to do the AFP screen in my first trimester when it was offered. I just didn't feel inclined to do it. I remember thinking that I didn't want to have to deal with the stress involved with getting a positive result, or a false positive result...or a false negative result. So I just declined it. I did agree to genetic counseling and I did do an early 9 week ultrasound and another more in depth ultrasound at 20 weeks. The ultrasound showed us a healthy baby boy that was growing on time, had a strong beating heart and all his appropriate parts. No cause for alarm.

I declined the amniocentesis even though it was recommended by my doctor. I was 36 when I got pregnant and would be 37 when the baby was born which put me at a higher risk for having a baby with a birth defect. If I had gone through with the test, I would have been bombarded with information about all the negative aspects of Trisomy 21, the health scares, the worry, the stress, the sadness, and the option to terminate the pregnancy based on the diagnosis. I'm not sure I would have been told about the joy, the gift and the beauty of my imperfect child. 

It's a blessing I got to spend my pregnancy without any stress other than the normal stress that comes along with the third trimester, like how much more weight will I gain, what should we name him, is the nursery ready, do I have enough burp cloths? Because I didn't know about Joaquin's diagnosis, I was able to have an uneventful delivery (albeit a speedy one!!) with the normal joys, pains and anticipations that come with giving birth to a baby and I was able to have the normal, special bonding time with my newborn. Those special moments in the middle of the night just the two of us getting to know one another. I was able to marvel at his beauty and perfection without doctors or nurses coming in to tell me otherwise or to point out the physical markers or "imperfections" or to hear what may or may not be wrong with him. He wasn't whisked away to spend hours in the NICU for observation or tests, he was able to stay by my side, right where he was supposed to be.

It's a blessing that even though I had that first instinct about Joaquin, that no one "saw" anything so I was able to have a positive hospital experience and about 2 1/2 months of time to love and connect with my newborn son without any labels or worries or sadness. I can honestly say that despite the unusual circumstances around how we found out about Joaquin that I wouldn't have had it any other way.

It's a blessing that everything happened just the way it was exactly as it should have been. We see Joaquin for who he is, not what he has. He is our third amazing, beautiful son. We are so blessed.

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