Part 6. Counting down the days

During the final few months of pregnancy, my emotions were pretty steady. Even though we had decided not to find out for sure, we felt better prepared to assume that the baby did have Down Syndrome. That way, there would be nothing that we weren’t expecting. I was still planning to birth at the Birthing Centre and it was a requirement that we have the baby’s heart checked beforehand.

This was understandable. The Birthing Centre is for low risk pregnancies. Babies with DS are at a greater risk of heart conditions, most commonly a hole in the heart at birth. Approximately 40-50% of all children born with DS will have a congenital heart defect. Usually atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) or ventricular septal defect (VSD). These either correct themselves or require surgery depending on the severity. If the baby had either of these, I would need to birth at another specialist hospital. I booked in for an Echocardiogram at around 28 weeks. Now I was nervous. The baby felt fine, everything felt fine, I felt fine, but every time I’d had a test or scan so far, I’d been given bad news. I knew a heart defect was treatable but I was already a mother and the thought of the baby suffering at all was tugging at my heart strings. This brought all the same negative emotions back up. Back on the roller coaster for another ride.

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