I met a woman yesterday. She and I have a lot in common.

We both live in metro Phoenix, both write, both have blonde hair. We both have 13 year old daughters and like the same coffee shop.

One big difference: This woman is pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome.

I was never pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome. Well, yes, technically I was. But I didn’t know it. If I had known, I’m afraid that I know what I would have done.

When I was pregnant at 36 — the same age this woman is now, by the way — things were different.  A decade ago, typically, no one tested you at three months; more like five or six.

“What are you going to do, have a late term abortion?” my husband asked after an initial test showed a slight chance the baby had DS. That scared me straight; I knew the answer to that question, if not to many others. I turned down the amnio, which would have provided the definitive answer. A few days later, an ultrasound tech told me my baby most definitely did not have Down syndrome. I took her word for it and never looked back — til I woke up in the recovery room after a C-section and questions arose.

I was never pregnant with a child with Down syndrome. This woman I met, she knew so early, by 12 weeks, that her baby has it. A blood test all but confirmed it; another test made it certain. She could have done it. It would have been simple. She’s not religious. But something else tugged at her.

She and her husband decided to keep the baby.

I am in awe of this woman.

We met for coffee yesterday, and driving over to meet her, it occurred to me that I’ve never met another woman pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome. It’s estimated that 95% of people who know about it terminate, she said.

“It’s the Cadillac of birth defects,” I told this woman yesterday. “Have you heard that?”

She smiled. She’s nervous. Brave and awesome, but nervous — and understandably. She’s known people with Down syndrome, she told me, but she doesn’t know what it will be like to be the parent of one.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” I told her, meaning every word, even as junior high looms and I worry about early-onset Alzheimer’s and everything in between. I also admitted that it took me a really long time — years and years — to come around to feeling that way.

We agreed that it’s gross and insulting when do-gooders refer to babies with Down syndrome as angels. But driving away, I couldn’t help but feel like this woman is a little bit of an angel herself. By contrast, I am an accidental parent, a poser, a fraud.

But that woman, she’s the real deal. Lucky baby.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

8 Responses to “This woman is pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome.”

  1. The angel is Amy S, among others.

  2. Amy, you’re the real deal too! The fact that you can tell her that is the best thing that ever happened to you with none of the angel mumbo jumbo, just clear-eyed awareness, is really the real deal.

  3. I have heard it so many times from so many parents who have children with Down Syndrome. In fact, I have never NOT heard it. I know that parents on message boards chime in when people are agonizing over CVS tests and all the rest of the pregnancy nightmare tests that “if they only knew how wonderful it is….”
    I speak in total ignorance. I have never cared for or been mother to a child with Down Syndrome. But you know what? I absolutely believe it. Rarely have I heard such certainty in any statement as the one that asserts it is indeed the best thing to happen to a parent. She is lucky also, to have found a new mother friend in you. Those are the rarest thing of all!

  4. Amy, You are the real deal!

  5. Amy, really powerful. You are amazing!!! Thank you for sharing this.

  6. People tell us that we are angels all the time when they find out that our kids are adopted.I wish it was true but all we wanted was a family.

  7. We learned of our baby’s diagnosis at 20 weeks. They used a new-ish blood test that is over 99% accurate. I later learned that the funding for the test was made a priority in the interest of giving parents an early, noninvasive test for decisions to terminate. Seth is 15 months old…we have no regrets!

  8. :)

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My Heart Can't Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome is available from Amazon and 
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