|Like all new found moms and dads, we could not
wait to share the news. We probably should have waited a bit longer to tell
others. At least until we knew that the baby would be healthy and there
was less chance of miscarriage. But joy overtook us and we told everyone
that would listen. Gita had decided to use a mid-wife. I was not to pleased
at first, but as we got further into the pregnancy, I became used to the
idea and eventually embraced it. Because of Gita's age, we had been referred
to an ob-gyn for additional checkups. At the second or third ultrasound,
some excess fluid was found in Maxine's urinary tract. While out of the
ordinary, it was not uncommon. To be safe, they would follow with level
two ultrasounds. It was also about this time that we received our first
Genetic counseling should really be called "If your kid comes out funky, don't sue us because you are really old and your eggs are probably way past the expiration date stamped on your butt" counseling. Numbers fly around the room like flies near roadkill. After a while it sounds like an auction.
"What am I bid? What am I bid?! Do I hear 1 in 500 for Trisomy 21? Thank you sir. I have 1 in 500, will someone make that 1 in 400? 1 in 400? To the old lady in the rear, I have 1 in 400. Come on now folks, 1 in 300 for Down Syndrome is a bargain! Do I have any bids at 1 in 300? No sir, I'm sorry, we are bidding on Trisomy 21 only today. Stop by tomorrow, when we will begin our highly regarded 22Q deletion sale! What am I bid? Do I hear 1 in 300. . . . "
Being kind of starstruck about the whole baby thing had kind of blinded us to the fact that we were not young 'uns anymore. And as older parents, our chances of a chromosonal defect were higher than those younger than us. But still, one in four hundred sounds like a long shot to me. Or at least it did then.
I cannot remember when or even if we actually discussed it, but early on we had decided that except for a condition that would threaten Gita's life, we would not abort our child. We are not pro-life. We still respect the right of a parent to choose his or her own fate. But something had been given to us. Something very special. We decided that no matter what we were given, we would do our best to love him or her to the best of our abilities. Very noble of us, don't you think?
At the next ultrasound, we found that the urinary blockage was gone. Hooray! Except now there was a new obstacle. This one between the stomach and duodenum. Double bubble. Duodenal atresia. This was more serious than the original urinary blockage. Our baby would require surgery.
We now received a second round of genetic counseling and were asked if we wanted an amniocentesis. We declined. We figured that if the result was not favorable, we might second guess our decision to have Max. And by not knowing, it kept alive the hope that the ultrasound was wrong and that our little darling was only a little bit less than perfect. One can dream. We were told that a natural child birth was still OK, but that a hospital setting would be more appropos since she would have to be taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for her surgery.
Late in the third trimester, we took a trip to CHOP to meet her surgeon
and have a fetal echo done for any possible heart problems. We also took
a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that we would be interred
at during our stay. The good news was no sign of a heart defect. The bad
news was we were looking at a two to three week stay in the hospital.
I remember my knees buckling when I heard that. It was such a scary place
with monitors and tubes and beeping all in one big room. The thought of
spending that amount of time there was horrific. The nurse practitioner
who showed us around introduced us to a parent whose child had undergone
a surgery very similar to what ours was to have. I could not believe how
such a tiny little child could be sliced open. I was repulsed by her baby
with all its tubes and bandages. We left. Shaken and scared but not deterred.