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Why We Don't Do Prenatal Testing

When it comes to prenatal testings , I absolutely understand why people do it, but for our family, it has always been something we've declined. My husband and I both have strong feelings about the fact that, for us, the testing would be irrelevant as we have always known that whatever may come we would definitely want to keep our baby.

As a Type-A planner, I definitely understand why some people would want to know all the details in order to plan, but knowing all the worst-case scenarios that I can't control while my child is in utero would only make me worry. This has been our stance about testing all along... until recently when it all changed.

RELATED: Saying No to First Trimester Ultrasounds

I've always gotten my 20-week ultrasounds during pregnancy, because I like to know if I'm expecting a boy or a girl ahead of time. The gender scan is always fun and this time was extra special, because we got to find out on Christmas Eve. I had my ultrasound Christmas Eve and then had one of my aunts wrap up a pre-chosen onesie (a "girl" or "boy" option) for us to open on Christmas day so our whole family could be surprised together. It was a lot of fun and a happy occasion.

Christmas day came and went and I didn't think anymore about that ultrasound... until I got a call from my midwife. She had called to tell me that there had been a "little spot" found on our baby girl's heart during our ultrasound. A small, bright, white spot was present in the left ventricle of her heart and this little bright spot is known as an echogenic intracardiac focus (EIF). I remember thinking, "OK, but what does this mean?"

All I could think was, "I wish I didn't know this. I wish they had never told me."

She went on to explain that while this could mean absolutely nothing, it has also been linked to an increased risk for having a baby with one of the trisomies—Down's Syndrome in particular (Trisomy 21)—and is considered to be a soft marker for these defects. She told me that in 4-5% of normal, healthy pregnancies, women see these EIF's show up and it turns out to be nothing. She assured me that the rest of the ultrasound looked great and they hadn't seen any additional markers present.

I "uh-huh'd" as she gave me some information and I declined to ask any more questions at the time, because I was overwhelmed with all this information, but when I got off the phone I cried. I called my husband and I cried some more and all my reasons for not wanting those tests came flooding back. All I could think was, "I wish I didn't know this. I wish they had never told me."

The fact is though, that I was the one who opted for the ultrasound. To be quite honest, even though it sounds a bit ridiculous, I had never really considered the rest of the things they might be looking for in the 20 week ultrasound or the fact that I might one day get a call back like this with worrisome news.

RELATED: 7 Things I Didn't Know About Myself Before I Became a Mom

So here we are now at 23 weeks and I have another 17+ weeks to go carrying around this information. We've learned about some of our options for testing going forward and, as of now, have decided to decline any further tests. The only test that could give us definitive answers is an amniocentesis, but we aren't willing to do it since it carries a risk of miscarriage. We have chosen to just wait and see.

We both truly believe that this child—whoever she is—is meant for our family. For so long I was dead set on only having two kids, but then I had a change of heart and the rest is history. I know there is a reason for all of this and whether or not this little girl has Down's Syndrome, we are going to love her. We can't wait to meet her either way, but have definitely learned a valuable lesson that has confirmed our prenatal testing choices.

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Photograph by: Lauren Hartmann

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