Posts Tagged ‘genetic testing’

This is a really sensitive topic for a lot of people, and I want to preface this post by saying that while we chose not to do prenatal genetic testing, I in no way oppose other people doing those tests.  This is a decision that we wrestled with, which is why I want to post about it here.  A few bits of background information:

(1) Neither my husband nor myself come from ethnic backgrounds that normally flag a couple for a lot of genetic tests.

(2) I’m relatively young (26), so I was not at a high-risk for having a baby with a genetic defect.

(3) My husband is from Peru, where I’ve heard anecdotally that genetic testing is not common.

The genetic testing that we were offered (a first trimester screen or nuchal translucency test) would not have told us definitively whether our baby had an abnormality.  Rather, it would have given us a set of odds that the baby would be born with such an abnormality.  Every baby would have a certain set of odds based on the results of the tests (like 1 in 1000 or 1 in 300), so I thought that however I looked at the results, I would have a nagging feeling that my baby could have something wrong with her.  I’m prone to anxiety, and being exposed to a lot of stress is supposed to be bad for a fetus, so I thought that for our family it was not a good choice.

My husband felt strongly that regardless of whether we knew something was wrong with her, she was our baby and we were going to have her.  It was very black and white for him.  He made me feel a bit morally inferior, because even though I am opposed to most types of abortion, I wondered about bringing a baby into the world that I knew would suffer and have medical problems.  I thought that the advantage of knowing in advance about a defect was being prepared and having time to do a lot of reading and meet with a lot of specialists.  But the disadvantage would be a long period of worrying and being upset, and perhaps I would be less likely to bond with my baby/pregnancy.  My husband seemed like he could still fall in love with a pregnancy that we knew would have medical problems, but I wasn’t sure of my own fortitude in that area, so it seemed better just not to know.

I was praying a lot about the decision, wavering and debating and discussing with people, when I finally decided that primarily because of my tendency toward anxiety, I didn’t want to know.  I once I made up my mind, I felt peace about the decision, and decided that the trade-off was worth it even though if there was something wrong I wouldn’t have months to prepare and educate myself.  Then I read this beautiful post about a woman who gave birth to a daughter with down syndrome and she did not know in advance.  For me, reading her birth story reinforced the choice we made.

Most of the people I’ve talked to have opted for the test.  In fact, everyone I’ve talked to except for one person opted for it.  It was more because of my own personal struggles with anxiety that we chose not to.  If you’re reading this post because you are trying to decide what to do, I hope that you’re able to make a choice that brings you a sense of peace as well.  You should also feel free to hit people who admonish you not to worry too much while pregnant because it’s bad for the baby.  Hitting those people is probably an excellent stress reliever.

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[On telling a friend I’m pregnant]

Friend: How did this happen?

Me: The normal way…


[On telling a coworker I’m pregnant]

Coworker: Are you happy?  I mean, was it an accident?

[As context for this, I’ve been with my husband for 7 years, married for 3 1/2, so it seems kind of weird to assume I showed up at work knocked up and unhappy about it.]


[In the kitchen at my office]

Coworker: How far along are you?

Me: 6 and a 1/2 months.

Coworker: Oh, I thought you were farther!  I have a friend who is 9 months and she’s not as big as you are.


[While people are speculating about the baby’s gender]

Mother-in-law: I think it’s a boy.

Me: Why?

Mother-in-law: Because of how wide you are.


[On telling a coworker I’m pregnant]

Coworker: Did you do genetic testing?

Me: No, we chose not to.

Coworker: When I get pregnant, I’m reserving the right to do that.  And if there’s something wrong, you better believe I’m aborting that baby.


[On telling a coworker I’m pregnant]

Coworker: I thought you were pregnant!  I’ve never seen your face look so broken out.  I thought to myself, there’s a girl who’s not taking any medication for acne.


[On discussing maternity leave with my boss]

Boss: When is your maternity leave starting?

Me: I want to try to work right up until the baby comes, so I don’t waste any of the time I could have had off when she’s born.

Boss: Okay, so what date is your maternity leave starting?  I need to put it on my calendar.

Me: I don’t know exactly when she’s going to be born.  [awkward pause while my boss waits for date with calendar]  You know, 95% of babies are born 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after their due date, so I could give you a 4 week window with a pretty good confidence interval.


[On telling a coworker I’m pregnant]

Coworker: I knew it!  Otherwise you were just getting fat.


[In the kitchen of my office while several people are preparing their lunches]

Coworker: You really shouldn’t take medicine before you get pregnant, either.  Were you taking the pill?

Me: No, I stopped a few months in advance.

Coworker: Okay, so were you just using condoms then?


I feel like I could do this all day.  After telling the first few people, I really came to dread having to tell anyone because I knew there was a 67% chance they were going to blurt out something inappropriate.  Don’t even get me started on the people who didn’t believe me because I knew so early.

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