Baby on the brain

Babies on the brain.  Not surprising. On the news today, they were talking about Octomom because there was a trial that involved the doctor who seeded her womb. Hearing about her caused me to flash back to when I first heard about the octuplets being born.  I was driving home from work. I can even picture the street I was on.  I decided, like I did most days, to stop at the grocery store to get sweets because I was pregnant.  Emotional as I was, I started to sob over the news that eight babies had been born alive. I imagined the elation and fear of the parents, and hoped that the babies would survive, but was afraid that they wouldn’t. 

Of course, then the details started to come out little by little.  There was no father.  The mother was on public assistance.  The grandparents had to come out of retirement to help support the babies.  The woman already had SIX other kids!  She had IVF with the intention of having as many babies as possible. The rest of the story is infamous by now.  I think I was more interested in the story because I was pregnant than I normally would have been.

I have a colleague who is about to undergo IVF.  I wonder if she’s worried about having too many babies?  I would be.  As worried as I’d be about having none.  It’s such a feast or famine procedure much of the time.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her.  When I told Odie about it, we had to acknowledge how lucky we feel to have been spared those issues. He only had to endure the humiliation of a fertility test because I read that you could buy them online and take them at home.

We may have conceived easily, and boy was it fun, but that doesn’t mean we or any parents are going to be spared heartbreak and trial as parents.  As I obsessively worry about the baby I’m carrying, I spend plenty of time worrying about the one I already have.  I know that a healthy baby with 23 pairs of chromosomes is a huge relief to all mothers, but none of us has any idea what is ahead.

When pregnant with V, I was in a small online group of women who joined a “buddy group” waiting for our “BFPs” (big fat positives = pregnancy tests).  In the course of about two years in the group, all seven of us eventually got our babies.  In that tiny sample size of seven that includes women aged twenty-three to forty years old from all over the U.S. (and one in the UK), we all had perfectly healthy babies.  However, one of us got bloodwork back during the pregnancy showing a 1:8 chance of Down Syndrome.  Her daughter was born typical.  Such a nicer word than “normal,” isn’t it?  Another woman had twins and one of them has been in the ER more than some kids will be in their whole lives. She had some condition where her trachea would collapse and she’d stop breathing.  One of the women in our group recently found out that her two year-old daughter has a mild form of autism.  A third has a daughter who was developmentally delayed for unknown reasons and had low muscle development.  She has been in therapy several times a week from infancy. Three out of seven women’s babies had some kind of issue, and the oldest child among them is only three years old.  So, like I said, a healthy baby may be a huge relief, but it isn’t always the end of the story.

I once read an essay written by a woman with MS that said “the disabled” is one minority group that anyone can join at any time.  You don’t have to be born into it. I have seen this in my teaching career a couple of times, the result of car accidents.  I have seen this in my family, the result of addiction or disease.

It won’t make me worry any less about this fetus swimming around in my belly, but it puts the Down Syndrome risk into perspective a little bit.  A blogger I admire wrote to me that all during her pregnancy, they saw numerous things on the ultrasounds that caused the doctors concern: enlarged kidneys, bright bowels, restricted growth and others.  “And all it meant was that she had Down Syndrome,” she wrote.  Another blogger I read regularly wrote to me that when she was pregnant, she begged God that if He were going to send her a disabled child, make it Down Syndrome.  Anything but autism.  Guess what her son has? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t Down Syndrome.  The lessons I have learned from these wonderful writers is that your child isn’t going to be exactly what you thought, but you will handle it.  You will.

Odie and I do not agree about the afterlife.  I have written about that here a few times.  In my reading and studies, I have come across the theory that we fear death and think that death is the absolute worst thing that can happen, but we don’t truly even know if death is bad. If you are a religious person, I think most religions promise quite a nifty reward after death.  You know, for those among us who don’t blog about not liking popular Mommy Bloggers. 

A month or so ago, I woke up from a lovely nap.  Odie and I had the week off work and V was at day care.  It was a Monday.  I noticed that I had missed a call on my phone, and left the room to check the voicemail.  My “triple screen” test had come back with a 1:53 chance of Trisomy 21.  I waited a little while in the living room, absorbing the information and looking at the mountains.  If I end up being that one in 53, I thought, I will always remember sitting here in my living room, resting my elbows on V’s empty high chair and staring at the pinkish light of the fading day.  When I woke my husband and told him, I cried.  He comforted me, but I could tell he was stricken.  Later that week, he asked me how I was doing, and I said pretty well, but that I was worried all the time.  And Odie said the most marvelous thing.

“You know that thing you told me you believe about death?” he asked.  I acknowledged that I did.  “Well, we don’t even know if Down Syndrome is bad. You know?”

About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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13 Responses to Baby on the brain

  1. Courtney Contos says:

    Kinda crushing on your husband. His last quote? Great way of looking at things.

  2. Tracy says:

    There’s so much more to you than the bashing of other bloggers, Mrs. Odie, and anyone with half a brain would pick up on that from your writing. I wish those nuts who judge and condemn you harshly for your opinions and sense of humor could see it. You are so articulate, and it’s clear that your daughter, your next baby, and your job as a parent mean just as much to you as they do to any other blogging mother.

    I’ve been reading your blog since I stumbled across it in a Kelle Hampton search where I was attempting to see if she’s “for real.” I admit, I keep reading you and Kelle (among others) because at the heart of it, you both love your kids, and I like to see how different moms work it all out-staying at home or not, quality time, day care, jobs, reading, a life, marriage…all of it.

    I wish you and your family nothing but the best, and can’t help but think that parents who are filled with love, who are self-reflective, and who are consistently striving to do the best that they can with a truly concerted effort are the very best kind. Sending positive thoughts for your upcoming news your way!

  3. Chelsea says:

    Personally, I ADORE Down Syndrome kids. They are the purest, sweetest, gentlest, most lovingest human beings on earth. Not a mean streak to be found. I think their faces are so beautiful (probably because I have those almond-shaped eyes, too), and I would have been thrilled — seriously — if God had given me a Down’s baby.

    • Pop says:

      I agree and have always felt that DS people have beautiful souls.

      RE: Octomom and IVF. It is not a feast or famine procedure. Most high order multiples come from clomid (i.e. Kate Gosselin) or IUI cycles that are not properly monitored. What Octomom did was unethical and irresponsible and against the odds. To find a doctor who would violate the standards of care like he did, to actually conceive 8 children who lived is amazingly rare and exceptional. If it ever happens again it will only happen to one person, not hundreds or dozens. Octomom is not the common denominator of IVF, she’s just the most well known and the most aberrant.

      Good clinics with good doctors can control the risk of multiples very well (the fact that infertility is not covered by insurance allows unethical doctors and clinics to flourish and prey on women–most of whom lose their savings and don’t get pregnant due to poor quality care). I only had a singleton with my IVF. I am the stick that IVF should be measured by, not Octomom.


  4. Patti says:

    My dear MrsOdie…I wish I were there to give you a big hug. Either way, it will be okay. It really will.

  5. brianna says:

    I hope these comments are bringing some peace for a possibility facing you. I love your husband’s comment. For those of us that have had the possibility become reality, I can assure you that it most certainly is not bad. We always fear and make negative assumptions for any circumstance in which we feel out of control. My child has taught me to be more open to possibilities, let go of fear and societal expectations, and just live. Truly live the way I believe we are meant to. That’s why so many parents of individuals with DS are happy and feel blessed. It’s like these individuals are angels in disguise. I now feel very honored and proud to be the parent of a child with DS, but in the beginning I was bitter and angry.
    Don’t worry or be afraid, Mrs. Odie. It will be okay. It’s already okay.

  6. Rosie says:

    I love your writing. *YOU* deserve a book.
    I understand your feelings over IVF. Back in the day when I was a little more optimistic about breeding, I considered this alternative. To me, it became as much of an ethical dilemma to force a baby into the world as it would have been to abort.

  7. Susan says:

    I really love this post. You stated something in it that my husband has mentioned and reminded me a thousand times. Our son was born with a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a totally sporadic genetic mutation in our case. We were floored because every test and ultrasound was fine. I would cry about his future. All the time, worrying what was going to happen, and my husband said that he could have been born healthy and diagnosed with leukemia at a young age, or hit by a car (God forbid) and we have no control. Live in the moment. He is healthy and thriving, and a normal crazy toddler that from the outside looks perfect.

    Whatever the outcome is, you adapt and it becomes your normal. I hope that everything is ok.

  8. Sarah says:

    Yes, that is the most marvelous thing to say on many levels. You make some brilliant points here but I loved the way you ended with his wisdom.

  9. Lightkeepersdaughter says:

    I’d like to join Patti – and give you another great big hug to match hers!

    I read your post, nodded in silent agreement – and remembered worrying the same worries through my pregnancy – 35 years ago! And I would bet that throughout history and across geography, it has been ever thus. We worry about our children, even before we see the whites of their eyes! I imagine that if we could somehow talk to a Mom-to-be from the 13th century, the 14th, the 15th – and so on right to today, each would admit to worry from the moment she realized her body was growing a new life. (Hey! – do you teach History?! There’s an assignment in there……Your students need to write essays on what a pregnant Mom might have worried about in each time-period – you know – bubonic plague, famine, war, …. what was germane to each stage in history?) (just tryin’ to help out!) 🙂

    I can tell you’re going to be fine though, cuz your attitude is so good. You know that no matter what happens – you will be OK…..The world as a whole will not fall off its axis, no matter what happens – and neither will your world.

    I hope you don’t spend all your time worrying, – and remember to just stop every once in a while, and love being pregnant. The kicks, the burps, the stretches, the “big-ol-contented-cow” feeling. (I loved that feeling the best!) You and your little swimmer will only have this one short opportunity to be this close. Relax, love, and luxuriate in it!

    And finally – your husband is a keeper, for sure! You done good – and obviously, so did he!

    Take care – and here’s that (((hug))) I wanted to give ya! I think you can still feel them abit in Cyberspace!


  10. Niamh says:

    Your husband is amazing. What will be will be – worrying won’t change a thing and if you spend the whole pregnancy panicking about something that might not come to pass you’ll kick yourself for not having given in, relaxed and savoured this time with your unborn baby. Sometimes knowing that we cannot do anything is the most freeing feeling in the world – give into it and enjoy your husband, your healthy child and your second pregnancy. *hugs*

  11. SlippidyDippidy says:

    During my first pregnancy, we had a soft marker for ds on our level II ultrasound. Lots of worry and a perfectly healthy baby was born. Second pregnancy, I never worried. Perfect ultrasounds. After birth find out that our baby has a congenital heart defect (#1 birth defect by the way, so not on people’s radar but 1 in 100 babies are born with a chd!) You are so right that after the baby is born, it’s “not the end of the story”. We feel super super fortunate that our daughter’s condition is considered one of the “simple” ones, it hasn’t affected her at all, and it may even correct itself with some time. And if it needs to be, it’s totally treatable. There are so many possibilities of things that can happen with our children that you’re never ever expected or braced for—but like you said, we handle it. We do better than handle it!

  12. Tracy says:

    I have to chime in here too. Down syndrome isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s rather incredible! Love your blog!

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