As my two daughters and I walked happily to the ultrasound room, we did not have a clue our lives were about to change forever. At the time, my biggest concern was that the technician would divulge the sex of our little one, as we wanted it to be a surprise at birth.
The technician was a woman of few words, and not very cheerful. I introduced myself and my two daughters and explained this was their first time seeing a sonogram. They were very excited to see a glimpse of their little brother or sister. We received few words from the technician until she frantically said, “I need to go see if a doctor is still here. I see something that isn’t right!”
She then walked out of the room, leaving my jelly-covered belly exposed.
Listen: Mia Freedman interviews entrepreneur and mum-of-three Vanessa Cranfield about what it’s like watching her daughter with Down syndrome grow up. (Post continues after audio…)
My daughters immediately asked if everything was alright. Although my heart was pounding, I reassured them it was. When the technician came back in, she told me, without a doctor present, she only saw three out of the four chambers of my baby’s heart and that he/she may have Down syndrome.
I was in complete shock and thought there must be some mistake. I was in protective mode for my two daughters standing beside me while trying to process the words I just heard. How could a person begin to make an unauthorised diagnosis in such a cold and heartless manner? This was supposed to be a happy memory that my daughters and I were to share together for the rest of our lives.
I reassured them, but inside, I felt confused. I didn’t know exactly what Down syndrome was, but how the news was delivered didn’t make me feel hopeful. I wanted my unborn baby to be healthy, and I wanted to continue to enjoy my pregnancy like I did with my other two children. My heart was incredibly heavy from so many unknowns.
A few weeks later, a specialist told me the possible prognosis: I could miscarry (which I have no history of), or, if our unborn child lived, the baby would go to the NICU, or our baby would have to be flown to Atlanta for emergency heart surgery.