Dear Daniel III

Dear Daniel,

May 21st. I got a call on my cell phone at work (Java Jules) from our favorite nurse, Lisa, saying there was a possibility that you would have Down syndrome. Lisa had explained that my quad screen test had came back positive for Downs. I was immediately alarmed. I had no idea what a quad screen was! I had never even heard of such a thing, nor did I know I had one done. They drew my blood on May 18th. Exactly a year ago.

When Lisa called she had told me that my chances looked to be 1:120 but not to be too alarmed yet because the cut off for notification is 1:150 and about 90 percent of these end up being false positives. Lisa is such a sweetheart, she was an angel to work with. After hearing this news and asking around there seemed to be dozens of people who had false positives, but for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking this was different.

 
Lisa then told me the next step was to get a level II ultrasound and possibly an amniocentesis. I would have to venture down to Sioux Falls early the next week (May 25th). I ended up taking your grandma Susan with me. I remember walking into the counseling room with Grandma and Nicole, the genetic councilor. I remember I was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops and that room was so cold! Nicole then talked to us a bit about Down syndrome. All of which I had already known from taking genetics the previous year. Nicole tried bringing up some sort of website on the computer in the room, but for some reason the internet wasn’t working and I can remember thinking “hurry up so we can get this thing over with. I’m freezing”.
 
Finally we were walked into the exam room for the ultrasound. We were greeted by two ultrasound techs. A young girl in her early twenties, if that, with short curly blonde hair (who pushed the keys on the computer keyboard much too hard according to your dad later) and an even younger girl with mid length brown hair who was training. Unbeknownst to us we would see Blondie MANY more times before you were born. The ultrasound seemed to take forever. They measured EVERYTHING on you. Finally they got to your organs. The ultrasound tech lingered on your heart for an eternity…then I saw it and I knew. An echogenic intracardiac focus (bright spot). I had done some research earlier in the week for soft markers commonly seen on ultrasounds, courtesy of google, and this was one of them. I then asked her (I wished I could remember her name) “what is that bright thing on his heart?” she responded “that’s something the doctor will have to talk with you about.” She said that and again, I knew.
 
Blondie and her sidekick then left the room for what seemed to be forever. Then the two techs, Nicole and Dr. Maria Palmquist re-entered the room. First I have to say I love Dr. Palmquist. She is so great. She sat down and explained that with all of the measurements your chances of having DS had risen to 1:3. She had told us that your long bones were measuring too short and that your nasal bone was abnormally small. I will never forget your grandma then saying, “Well look at Whitney. She’s really small. She was only 4 pounds when she was born…and see her tiny nose.” It was almost as if she were trying to bargain with her. Like if she gave her enough excuses it wouldn’t be true and as if it were something the dr’s could change.
 
After getting these odds your grandma and I decided to go with the amnio if they felt it were save enough. I was so nervous. I hate getting shots and they were about to put a three foot needle into my stomach with an audience of five people. But first I had to sign a paper promising I would pay the 3,000 dollar fee if my insurance wouldn’t cover the amnio and lab tests (Yikes). The u/s tech then looked for the best spot for the needle to go in. They made dots on my tummy with a purple marker…exactly the same way they do when you’re getting something pierced. Then they got started. I refused to look the whole time. I held your grandma’s hands as hard as I could and we cried. Not for myself, but for you. For the life I thought you wouldn’t be able to have and the way I felt you would be treated. Again, I have to say I wish I would have known how things would be. I am so embarrassed that I mourned over these things.
 
As they were putting the needle in your grandma whispered in my ear “I love you so much” I then looked up to see her licking the tears that were pooling around her nose and mouth. She couldn’t wipe them away because I was occupying both of her hands. Remembering it now it is very comical. If you talk to her about it she’ll laugh and say she was licking her face like a dog. The rest of the day was a blur. The only thing I remember is stopping at Wendy’s for a chocolate shake. And talking to your dad about the news.
 
And in case you didn’t know, your dad is my hero. I wish I could have handled the news like he did. He never cried or was upset or angry. He knew that no matter what you were going to be our son, baby, and love of our lives.

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