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Counting Chromosomes - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Counting Chromosomes
It’s 11 days until my scheduled amnio, and then another two weeks after that until we get the results and we know if the baby I am carrying has the correct number of chromosomes or not. I haven’t queued anything on ravelry yet for the new baby yet and won’t until after we get the results back from the amnio. That’s the yarn addict’s way of saying I’m not counting on having a take-home baby until we pass the chromosome-count hurdle.

A week ago Warren asked me if I’d be sad on the due date for this one the way I was on the due date to the one I miscarried over the summer if the amnio results are not good and we end up terminating the pregnancy. I didn’t have to think about it, I told him yes, that to my mind there really wasn’t any difference between a therapeutic termination and a miscarriage. Of course I’ve never had a therapeutic termination, but I’ve certainly thought about it. At my age, and with my history I’d be a fool not to.

I know this is a controversial topic, but my opinion and my feeling runs thusly: a pregnancy that is terminated due to severe medical problems with the fetus is not really terminated by choice. Yes, a woman who is pregnant with a baby that has trisomy 18 can choose to allow the pregnancy to run its course, but considering that such children have at best a 10% chance of surviving their first year if they even make it to birth, that’s really the choice of the fetus dies now or the baby dies (probably more painfully) later. In short, in so much as there is any choice involved it is a rather unpleasant one either way. Then there is the most survivable autosomal trisomy, trisomy 21, more commonly known as Downs Syndrome. I have stated before that I will terminate a pregnancy where trisomy 21 is detected and my opinion has not changed. I know people with Downs can live quite long these days, but it is more than just mental retardation. There are common heart defects, gastrointestinal complications, and a very high and increasing risk of obesity. I will never knowingly doom a child of mine to living with such a severe set of disabilities, and I cannot in good conscience inflict such a severely disabled sibling on my existing children if I have a choice. While the law says that we have a choice as to whether or not to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus has trisomy 21, trisomy 18 or trisomy 13, to my mind there is really only one path that is right for me and my family, and I would consider such a termination a bitter necessity.

Not everyone feels as I do. While I feel that the only path for my family if faced with a fetus with an autosomal aneuploidy is terminating the pregnancy, other families choose differently. Some have deeply held religious views on the matter and others do not. I have no major problems with this (though I may grumble a tad about increased insurance premiums caused by the cost of caring for these babies); what is right for my family is not necessarily the best choice for someone else’s family. What really gets under my skin and tempts me to type blog entries laced with phrases like “fucking moron” is when people seek to impede my ability to do what is right and necessary for my family or to equate therapeutic terminations to other abortions.

Most of you will remember a couple of weeks back there was a lot of noise in the media about health insurance and coverage of birth control, etc. During all that coverage I heard a brief clip stating that Rick Santorum opposes insurance coverage for pre-natal testing because it “leads to more abortions”. For a while I tried to compose a rational and well-reasoned post on the subject, but I just couldn’t because every entry I started strayed into ‘fucking moron’ territory after about a paragraph and a half. Rick Santorum objects to the fact that my insurance covers the amnio I’m going to have a week from Friday precisely because unlike him I would choose to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus had trisomy 18. In short, he wants to force me into the same choices he would make. In my opinion it is not the testing that causes the abortions, but the conditions they test for, conditions that in many cases are actually acute enough to be incompatible with life outside the womb. I really, really want to have the child I am carrying now, but thank goodness my insurance does cover the amnio, and thank goodness I will have medical recourse if I get bad news.

Lastly, there is a huge difference between a therapeutic termination and an abortion prompted by personal reasons, at least in my opinion. That’s why I don’t call the former an abortion, though I’m not going to argue to strongly about the semantics one way or the other. This post isn’t about the wider abortion debate, just the special case where you find yourself forced to face terminating a desperately wanted pregnancy because of serious medical issues. It’s something I’m desperately hoping I won’t have to face in any more than a theoretical form.
3 comments or Leave a comment
outerjenise From: outerjenise Date: March 6th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
These are deeply personal choices, and it's good that you're thinking about them in advance, rather than waiting until you're forced to make the choice. I support your decision.
astra_nomer From: astra_nomer Date: March 6th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Back when I was pregnant with my first child, I refused the alpha screening test, because I felt firmly that whatever the result, I would keep the baby, and so saw no need for the prenatal screening. Now that I have two healthy children though, I would definitely opt for screening, and possibly even termination, because, as you say, it wouldn't be fair to the children already have to have to divert my resources and attention to a special needs child.

And this is why I'm firmly pro-choice, because these decisions are intensely personal, and no dickhead ideologue should be able to to butt his head in.

I'm crossing my fingers for you, and hoping that everything turns out for the best!!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 8th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you - from a T18 mommy

Elizabeth, I want to thank you for this post. I terminated my very much wanted pregnancy on Jan 4 2012 for trisomy 18. I occasionally search for "Trisomy 18 termination blog" and yours was a result today. Though I see you haven't gone through this yourself (and I hope that you do not), you know what loss is like, and you know what it's like to hope for a child and feel it may never come. I suppose we're kindred in that way. It is so healing for me to find those who feel that my loss "counts". I wish you nothing but good news from your amnio. Congratulations on your two beautiful kids and the one on the way. If you ever want to read the ramblings of a T18 loss mom my blog is http://lifeaftert18.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html

Lizzy (from Boston!)
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