Prenatal Genetic Testing: Will You Have It?

ultrasoundWhen I was pregnant  (the first time at age 32; the second at 34), my doctors asked me if I wanted any prenatal genetic testing. They assured me that I was very low risk, but asked if I would consider terminating if the results showedsome sort of genetic issue.

Both times, I was appalled that they had the nerve to even ask if I would do such a thing. No matter what, I would love the child I was carrying. I was resolute that I would never terminate, so why would I test? I declined the offer.

It sounds naïve now. Thankfully, both girls were born healthy without incident. 

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But now, I'm 39 and if I were pregnant, I would definitely consider genetic testing -- not because I would love my baby any less but because I'm older. The difference between 33 and 39, doesn't feel very different. Hell, I still feel 25. But my body has lived the life span of a teenager since then. Yes, I’m in good health and yes, my pregnancies were easy and without incident but there is a higher risk now that my eggs are older too.

If I were pregnant with a child who would be born with a genetic disorder, it could mean that I would have to be her caregiver for her entire life. Would I be alive long enough to be sure that I could commit to that? This is an important thing to consider. It’s not just about what I want anymore.

If I were to have a beautiful child who was going to be born with a genetic disorder that would incur an exorbitant cost of medical treatment with no cure, could I afford the cost? Could I provide everything that this child would need or want from me, financially? Am I strong enough to be there emotionally? Could I be the mother this special child deserved and needed?

How would this affect my other children? I would have to consider how having a child with a genetic disorder such as Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18 would effect the care, time and mothering that I could give my other two children? How would it affect my marriage?

Did you have genetic testing done when you were pregnant? Why or why not?

Image via AndrewMalone/Flickr

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