I’m Removing My Prenatal Testing Halo.Posted: June 19, 2013
I have had my moments of self-righteous judgement. Shocking, I know. I’ve strapped on my righteous halo in secret, just for comfort.
In the early weeks after discovering LP has Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), I spent time pontificating on life and riding some emotional waves. During that time, for a brief moment, despite all my reservations on prenatal testing, I wished we hadn’t opted out. For a brief moment, I thought we should have terminated.
For that brief moment, I felt a lifetime of guilt.
If my love had been more true, pure, strong, I would have never thought those things, right? How could I think that awful thought while my baby lay in bed beside me? I was ashamed to call myself a mother.
Then, the pendulum swung the other way, and I felt a bit righteous. I was raw and scared. I needed to reaffirm my good (or at least not failed) motherhood. I needed to reaffirm my love for my baby because I was terrified that he sensed my moment of doubt. The world was telling me my baby wasn’t worth it, and for a moment, I had let myself believe that lie. To make sure everyone knew I’d come around, I strapped on my we-never-tested-because-we-would-never-terminate-halo and plunged ahead.
Let me tell you now, that was utter nonsense. I apologize. Deeply. I have removed my halo.
I want to say some things to the women out there facing the difficult choices that line the road to motherhood. Yes, to women. In our still very patriarchal society, women bear an inordinate amount of shame and judgement for their reproductive choices. So yes, I am talking to you, sisters.
To the mother who participated in prenatal testing, I stand by your choice to seek information. Maybe you just needed to know, to prepare. Maybe your doctor simply stated it was a matter of course. Maybe you even opted to get an amniocentesis or CVS test. I stand by you, because I refuse to judge the reasons behind your to need a for a more certain picture of the baby you carried in your body.
To the mother who lost her baby after choosing CVS or amniocentesis, I stand by the best decision you could have made at the time. I can’t know how it feels, but I can imagine how it must cut you to hear another person glibly talk about those tests without knowing the loss you’ve experienced. I refuse to judge the reasons you decided to do those tests.
To the mother who never considered termination, I stand by your conviction and certainty. I don’t know why termination was never an option for you. Maybe infertility. Maybe your faith. Maybe because you simply couldn’t or wouldn’t. I refuse to minimize you in any way; unwavering conviction is a powerful thing.
To the mother who did consider termination after getting prenatal test results, I stand by your private, personal journey. Maybe you were scared. Maybe you had no support. Maybe you simply questioned the road ahead. I refuse to judge the inner workings of your choices.
To the mother who terminated her pregnancy after getting prenatal test results, I stand by you simply as another woman and a mother. It pains me to think of my own baby being aborted, but he wasn’t, and I will not impose my feelings on you. I have not walked in your shoes. I don’t know what you were told about your baby, nor do I know your baby’s prognosis. I don’t know the circumstances of your life. I refuse to judge you and I will not shame you.
To myself, the one who declined all testing, said she would never terminate and regretted my decision in a sad moment in time, I forgive you. I reaffirm my belief to go on with pregnancy without the information given through prenatal testing. I know now that neither my prenatal testing choices nor my doubts afterwards are indicators of my strength as a mother.
To my sisters, we may not always agree, but I refuse to judge you. Let’s all remove our halos. We have all struggled and we are all imperfect beings. We can stand together.