23 August 2011

The Downs (Part 1)

When Joy Joy was 13 weeks old, Mummy and Daddy were advised to go for the 1st trimester fetal screening to detect any abnormalities. When Mummy first heard about it she felt nothing.. very confident that Joy Joy would be well, healthy and normal.

Since there was no immediate urgency to do the test right away, and we were to make an appointment to do it at a screening centre on another day anyway so the gynae advised Mummy and Daddy not to make a decision so hastily and think about it before deciding whether or not to go for it.

You see Daddy has a sister who can't speak or hear.
Whilst it all very easy, and true as well, to say that we will love you anyway, normal or abnormal, we are well aware of all that you will have to shoulder thoughout the course of your lifetime, if you should be genetically challenged.

Mummy and Daddy thought long and hard about it.
 What will we do if the fetal is abnormal?
Will we abort?

There were many what ifs.

What if Daddy and/or Mummy pass away at an early age? What if any genetic defects causes you to have to suffer other sicknesses? What if you can't withstand the challenge of being a child that is different from others in school? What if.. what if what if...

But what if, given a choice, you would still want to be given the chance to live anyway?

In the end our conclusion was still a unanimous Yes, we will abort if the risk assessments turns out to be high. But not because we didn't love you.

Daddy's colleague even jokingly commented that Singaporeans only want to retain the best. Even when it comes to babies. It hurt mummy a little when she heard about it, although mummy knows that no offense was intended.

I suppose, I feel guilty now, otherwise I wouldn't be explaining.
Now that I am so advanced in pregnancy, I could have chosen to write something else. Something nice. But I've chosen to write the truth and I believe that Joy Joy will understand it one day, when I show this to her. Even if she doesn't, I'd understand and be patient.

To put it bluntly, Mummy and Daddy made a decision on whether to keep you or not, based on our perception and judgement that if we should bring you to this world, pain of suffering you would experience, would greatly surpass the joy of living. And that was it.

And so, our minds were made up. And so we went for the screening....

On the day Mummy went for the screening, Daddy was away in Jakarta for business.
Mummy went alone and Mummy wished that Daddy was there too... not just for company but also because during the scan, Mummy saw what we never saw from earlier scans..

My little girl stretching out her hands as if she was yawning..
My little girl's hands, fingers, feet, toes, spine..
My little girl turning and moving alot..
And a blur baby's face..

Everything was so well formed that Mummy never expected anything unusual to come out of the screening results... Although the nice lady Sonographer, who was chatting happily with Mummy on how active Joy Joy was became quiet towards the end. Mummy brushed it off.

A few days later, on a Saturday, Mummy and Daddy were watching a movie on DVD when Mummy received a call from the gynae's office.

Gynae's Receptionist: "Can you make it to see the doctor next Monday? She needs to see you urgently".
Mummy: "What is it about?"
Gynae's Receptionist: "The first trimester screening results are out and we have detected some abnormalities, your baby's neck fluid is very thick, we need to speak to you and your husband urgently."

Mummy's first reaction was denial.

Mummy: "I'm really not free next week and I can't take leave at all. Can it wait?"
Gynae's Receptionist: "There is nothing more important than your baby, you check and see if you can take urgent leave? Give us a call back on Monday again."
Mummy: "I told you i'm not free....... If i can make it, I'll call again.. Bye.."

And Mummy put down the phone.

Daddy: "Who is it? What happened?"
Mummy: "The gynae called and said she wants to see us. Baby's neck fluid is very thick and abnormal."
Daddy: "Shit... "

Daddy tried to make Mummy call the gynae back but Mummy refused.
So Daddy called and made an appointment.

The test results:

The gynae said your risk assessment didn't look good because having a 3.1mm thick neck fluid was highly indicative of a Downs Syndrome baby. Mummy was so sad, I couldn't think of any questions to ask at first.. then I started bombarding the gynae with questions.

The gynae suggested an Amniocentesis, where a long.. long.. needle will be inserted into Mummy's womb, to extract ambiotic fluids for testing. The down side to this test is that there is a risk that Mummy could suffer a miscarriage...

Mummy was reluctant and Daddy almost fainted at the thought of the long long needle (Daddy has a fear of needle..), so the gynae suggested that before we do the Amnio test, we see another doctor, who can do an extremely specialised scan to see if Joy Joy has a nose bridge (absense is a sign of a downs baby), amongst other things. Based on the results of this specialised scanning, we can decide what to do next.

Mummy and Daddy agreed. Because of the decision we have both made on whether we will keep Joy Joy, should abnormalities be detected, we felt that it was our responsiblity to be as sure as we can, before making any drastic decisions. No matter how much it costs.

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