It has been a trying period for us after my gynae informed me that my test results showed that our baby may have chromosomal abnormality, especially Down Syndrome.
At my age, the average probability of conceiving a baby with Down Syndrome is 1 out of 311. But for me, the probability turned out to be 1 in 38. To add to my grief, I was also high risk for two other chromosomal abnormalities. Having taught sexual reproduction in human beings to my biology students for the past 8 years, I know too well of the defects of Down Syndrome and the options that laid ahead of us. I felt like being told that I have a terminal illness and my days were numbered. The difference was that our baby’s days were numbered before she was born.
I was comforted and thankful that Yang was firm about keeping the baby regardless of his / her health status (we didn’t know the gender then). The trauma and guilt would had been too much for us to bear if we were to opt for abortion so we didn’t consider that option at all. So we committed everything unto Him who is able to keep us from falling and went ahead with amniocentesis to confirm whether the baby has those defects. I’d rather know whether the baby was healthy then than ‘discovering’ it after delivery. Some mental preparation and time for ‘acclimatising’ to the reality is, in my opinion, better than being thrown into the deep end when the baby does arrive with a genetic defect.
The scenarios of caring for a Down Syndrome child kept coming to mind every day since my gynae broke the news. As much as I want to trust God for His good and perfect will, the future looked bleak and I lacked courage to want to try for a second one. I wasn’t angry at God for our situation. In fact, I was wondering whether He was punishing me for my sins. Whatever reason He had, it must be good because of His nature.
And I’m thankful for understanding and supportive parents-in-laws.
During this period of waiting and wondering, I did muse about an abnormal child having greater blessing than a normal person. For example, a normal person can be laden with all sorts of cares and burdens of this world but an abnormal person can be most care-free and content in life. Of course, a mutant is a mutant and often a social stigma. Nevertheless, I’m glad that more and more people are willing to accommodate non-normal individuals as part of society.
So I went for amniocentesis 2 weeks ago. I was a bit frightened because it involved a small risk of miscarriage. Yang was at the hospital with me then. A doctor inserted a thick needle through my abdominal wall to reach into my amniotic bag (water bag) to withdraw a sample of my amniotic fluid. It contained cells shed from the baby and these were cultured and then screened for any extra chromosome amongst the 23 pairs of chromosomes a normal human being should have. This screening would also reveal the sex chromosomes of the baby, whether XX or XY.
On Tuesday night, a staff from my gynae’s clinic called me to break the good news that the baby was normal and a girl (XX)! Yang and I were so relieved and also grateful to God. We want to thank everyone who prayed for us and encouraged us (we didn’t share about our struggle with many). We are grateful to God that Pris, our small group friend, reminded us that all children are gifts from God. She and our small group didn’t know our situation then.
Finally, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4