We All Walk Our Own Paths

Mar 18, 2015 | Opinion, Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)

We all walk our own path. I simply chose a different path. I will not say it is a better one.

By T.W.

I am not writing to criticize. I feel so deeply for these families and the choices they made. I cry reading these stories they’ve written because I went through similarly agonizing decisions with my own pregnancy at age 30. My son, who is now age two, has Down syndrome.

I would never say or do anything to add to anyone’s pain. I experienced the same feelings these women and families went through with a poor prenatal diagnosis. I had decided to carry my pregnancy to term and only later, when I was already several months pregnant, I learned that my son had a hole in his heart and would require surgery shortly after he was born.

I hope you see that there are those of us out here who have made the choice to continue our pregnancies after a prenatal diagnosis, but wouldn’t dare criticize those of you who did not continue. I simply chose a different path. I will not say it is a better one. I would like to be a voice of supporting the decisions of the mothers here.

I am not what you would call a very religious person. I believe every person has to do what they feel is best for their own family. I am in an unusual position in a way, because a large majority of people choose to end a pregnancy following a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Often those who do continue their pregnancies do so for typically for religious and/or anti-abortion reasons. Often when I hear people speak about this experience they sound pious, like they’re boasting about choosing to keep the pregnancy. That’s not me.

There are those of us who don’t want to be held up and celebrated for “doing the right thing” or anything of that nature. I just think it’s good if we can understand each other. We’ve all been through a poor prenatal diagnosis. Only our choices and outcomes are different.

Our journey with our son has not been easy. Imagine your child having his heart removed and repaired at 12 lbs. Still, he is nothing less than the love of our lives.

I felt prompted to write this after I met a woman who could not stop staring at my son in a children’s store. She was so interested in him and I knew she wanted to say something to me. In our brief conversation she revealed that she had let go of a pregnancy because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. I told her that I too had found out my son’s condition prenatally. I felt a tinge of guilt for having told her that, and later, thinking about it, I felt profoundly sad.

I had forgotten that I would meet women who had received a prenatal diagnosis and had reached a different conclusion. Now, for some very wrong reasons, it would be “them and us” and these two groups would be divided. It really doesn’t have to be that way. Not all of us are judging you. We all walk our own paths.

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