parents

What would you do if you found our your unborn baby had Downs Syndrome?

Erin and Frances

Last year that's exactly what happened to Frances Dine, 39. With a 15 year old daughter, Holly, Frances and her husband decided to continue with the pregnancy and she gave birth to baby Erin. In the Daily Mail this week she's written about her experience and making the decision:

Every morning I wake with a surge of joy, knowing I have the
greatest treat in store. I tiptoe out of bed and bend over the Moses
basket where Erin is sleeping. Without fail, she opens her eyes and
grins the hugest smile in the world and, without fail, my heart lurches
with a mixture of love and passionate protectiveness.

Erin
was born with Down's syndrome, and while I know her life is likely to
be tougher than for 'normal' children, I will do all in my power to
smooth her way in life. She deserves it.

When I married my second
husband, Paul, two years ago, we knew we wanted children, so I was
ecstatic when I fell pregnant in September last year. Waiting for Paul
to come home from work to tell him the news seemed like an eternity. He
was every bit as excited as I was.

We told Holly, who was thrilled, but decided to wait until after I
had my first scan at 12 weeks before telling anyone else, although we
didn't foresee any problems. But, as the ultrasound operator at the
hospital passed the machine over my tummy, she paused.

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'I've
got some bad news,' she explained. 'I think there's a problem with your
baby.' I was so shocked I couldn't breathe. Paul clutched my hand. All
I remember is being told that the space in the tissue at the back of
our baby's neck (the nuchal fold) was thicker than normal. This
indicates a chromosome disorder such as Down's. It was a Friday, so she
made an appointment for us to see the consultant the following Monday.
'He will explain your options,' she said. 

I don't know how
we got out of the hospital. We sat in the car, clinging to each other
and howling our eyes out. We'd expected a perfect baby.

The
words 'Down's syndrome' thumped in my head. What did it mean? What
would our baby look like? What problems would our baby have? But as I
tried to make sense of the news, I suddenly realised that, whatever was
wrong with our baby, it didn't really matter. I would love her
whatever. Paul felt exactly the same. It was like a light bulb going
on.

It had simply never occurred to me to worry about our
baby not being perfect and what I would do about it. But now that I was
suddenly in this situation, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I
didn't want any further tests to determine whether or not our baby had
Down's, especially as they carry a small but very real risk of causing
a miscarriage.

We weren't going to terminate the pregnancy
whatever the diagnosis. Knowing that we would welcome our baby, perfect
or not, there was no point doing further tests. I'm not a Christian, so
I wasn't guided by any religious faith. But, once I knew I was
pregnant, I had an overwhelming sense that Paul and I had made this
baby, and we would love her whatever. Even though Erin was only a
collection of cells at that stage, she was still my baby. We had
created her and we had responsibility for her….."

You can read the rest of Frances's moving story here….

Anyone who has kids has had to ask themselves this question: what would I do. Usually, you ask it around the 12 week ultrasound. Some people know absolutely the answer. I know women who have refused to have the diagnostic test for Downs Syndrome because they already knew they would not be able to terminate the pregnancy. Other women are just as adamant that they couldn't continue with a pregnancy if they found out the baby had Downs Syndrome. I know several women who were told there was a high chance of Downs, continued with their pregnancies and gave birth to children who were perfectly healthy.

I also have two friends who have Downs Syndrome kids. Neither knew about it before giving birth. Both kids are beautiful but there are a whole host of problems their families face in caring for them.

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