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Prenatal and diagnostic testing: What to know before you test

Maureen used to be obsessed with baseball -- and then she had children. After she welcomed her son, Charlie, and his extra chromosome, she discovered her passion for writing about Down syndrome and disability-related issues.

With two...

Preparing for anything

For first-time moms or women who have high-risk pregnancies, the idea of prenatal testing can be scary and overwhelming. Dr. Myra Wick of the Mayo Clinic shares some of the most important questions couples should ask.

Back to basics

Before undergoing any testing, Dr. Wick says one of the most important questions for a couple to address head-on is how they will use test results. “Will the results change management of the pregnancy (e.g., would the couple consider termination)? Does the couple agree on how they will follow up an abnormal test result?”

As Dr. Wick points out, “Some couples have never discussed their thoughts on termination — not all partners agree on this!”

Everyone reacts differently

While my husband and I agreed early on that termination was not an option, we each had very different reactions to prenatal testing and the results we received.

After watching me undergo the amnio procedure, my husband returned to work and promptly Googled support groups for parents of children with Down syndrome. We hadn’t gotten a diagnosis yet, but he was already reaching out.

As fate would have it, a local DADS (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) Group was meeting that very night in a neighboring town, and Jeremy attended. There, he met families who will be part of our lives forever. He found hope and positivity, which was exactly what he needed.

Alternately, I spent months unable to really speak with anyone about the diagnosis for a variety of reasons, mostly because of overwhelming guilt. Fate again intervened when my husband scheduled dinner with two couples from the DADS Group on what turned out to be the night before we learned Charlie’s hydrops had returned.

The next afternoon, I was admitted to the hospital, and three days later, we welcomed our beautiful son.

Only one regret — wasted time

Ours is an ongoing story and, without question, one of the best love stories I’ve ever known. We are in love with our little boy, and everyone who gets to know him has come to understand what an overwhelmingly positive difference he has made in our lives.

I have no regrets about having the prenatal testing done; for better or worse, my husband and I came to terms with the diagnosis at our own pace. Any remaining worry slipped away once we looked at our son and touched his silky skin.

What I do regret is the tremendous amount of time I wasted worrying about what I realize now were baseless concerns. Knowing and loving Charlie outweighs any challenge we may face together.

Read more about prenatal testing

What expecting moms should know about prenatal testing
Are you of advanced maternal age?
What to expect from the 20-week ultrasound

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