Since Audrey turned 10 months I have started to find the prospect of another baby less terrifying… Still terrifying, but just not as scary a thought as it was a few months back. So as my mind turned to thoughts of baby number 2, I couldn’t help but wonder… What about the screening for DS? Ted and I discussed and decided there would be no point having the tests second time around, as it will make no difference. However, I then started to wonder about the screening… Why do we screen for Down’s Syndrome?
Is it about the serious health issues associated with DS (heart, bowel etc)? Is it about being prepared for a “different” child? I even considered the possibility that the NHS might want to guide someone down the abortion route in order to save money (would a DS baby need a lot of additional care/medication/operations?).
The fact is I’m only wondering about this now because I have a beautiful baby with DS, who escaped the heart and bowel problems and is doing well and is a joy. Rewind to this time last year and I would have thought it perfectly reasonable to screen for DS… After all, I was someone who had made the declaration that I “couldn’t cope” with a child with DS! This blog post by Hayley of Down’s Side Up explores this area… http://www.downssideup.com/2014/06/the-sugar-coated-disability-abortion-lie.html?m=1
What struck me here (other than the horrible quotes where women were treated badly after deciding to keep their DS diagnosed foetus), was explaining to our children in the future why we screen for DS… Something I thought was perfectly acceptable (to screen for), has now become… Shocking. I guess this is because we (DS parents) could never explain to expectant parents that they will love that child no matter what… It will be ok, you will cope! The coping and the loving will only really kick in when that baby is in your life.
Not sure what the answer is here, the screening is there and a foetus testing positive for DS has a slim chance of survival… All we in the DS community can do is try to spread the message that there is happiness and joy in our family life and take away some of the “fear” if we can. I definitely found huge comfort and positivity in looking at blogs such as Down Side Up and Kelle Hampton’s Enjoying the Small Things when I was coming to terms with Audrey having DS. I was literally thinking “wow, they still eat out/dress well/have fun” – because at the beginning I felt like DS = end of the world. We need to show that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning… The beginning of a different world, but still a very fun/fashionable/foodie one!