Nurse and Mom MELANIE PRESTON from Knoxville, Tennessee is pregnant with her 3rd child who will be born with down syndrome in June 2014. She has agreed to update the We Are Daytrippers blog throughout her experience leading up to the birth of her son Elliott and their experiences as a family.
Here is Melanie’s story:
Many people whom I have met or read their stories of their prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome remember the exact date they were delivered the news. I can honestly say I have no idea. Not because it was a terrible moment that I suppressed in order to forget the shock but perhaps it is because I already knew.
My husband and I met in 2010 through online dating, that’s right online – who knew it worked! We were married in November 2011 and our first daughter arrived in January 2013. I also have a 13 year old son from a previous relationship who is a great help and a better big brother than I could have ever imagined.
Knowing we wanted to have more children and have them close together because we are in our late 30’s was why we decided to start trying right away after the birth of our daughter. On our second year wedding anniversary I took a pregnancy test that was immediately positive. A range of emotions followed when I realised I would have two children 18 months apart and an active teenager! Busy would be how our lives would be summed up for the next few years but over time it would pass and be worth it.
From the beginning of this pregnancy I felt like something was “different.” I didn’t feel right. Not exactly sick all the time but extreme fatigue and just something I couldn’t put my finger on. My doctor asked that we return a week later as the heart rate was too low during the first check up. Everything looked fine on ultrasound so we scheduled in a nuchal scan. The test came and went with no indication on ultrasound that anything would be amiss but when the blood work came back I received a call that my risk was elevated to a 1 in 44 chance of down syndrome and I was referred to a high risk obstetrician at that point. Several days later I went to the consult and had more blood drawn for the fetal DNA testing and we also learned we were having a BOY. That was amazing news because my husband was beaming at the news. The wait for the test results to come back was over a week and people kept reassuring me that it was very unlikely that the tests would show a positive for down syndrome. In fact, according to the screening, they were correct – there was only a 2% chance.
We did a genetic test to be sure and when the counselor called to let me know our chance had increased to 99.8 % of down syndrome I wasn’t surprised or shocked and I didn’t shed a tear until I thought about having to call my husband and tell him that the son he was excited for wasn’t going to be what he had always pictured.
We chose to have an amnio several weeks later not to confirm the diagnosis but to figure out which type of down syndrome he had and it turns out it is the completely random non-disjunction type (which will not raise my odds in future pregnancies as we would like another child).
Dreams change; ours did in an instant but what I have learned is they can be replaced by a new dream. A dream of hope and limitless potential. We never questioned whether to continue with the pregnancy as we knew we could love him regardless of his differences. I started researching everything I could find about down syndrome and joining various online blogs and forums to get the latest information. Many things seem to have changed in the special needs community in recent years. There are so many advocates for these children and resources. The outcomes have improved and who knows where we will be in 20 more years.
We already named our son. He will be called Elliott because I have always loved the name. The associated medical problems that can occur and many that will remain unknown until he is born completely freak me out. I have to be honest, I’m scared of the unknowns. It really isn’t the extra chromosome that worries me but the underlying health issues are daunting if you actually start to look at the “what ifs.” So for now I have stopped googling medical issues and down syndrome in the same search as it’s better for my health and blood pressure. Currently I’m 35 weeks with an induction scheduled for 37 weeks so not too much longer until we meet Elliott and his extra chromosome. Stay tuned in the next few weeks as I’m sure this is going to be a wild ride. I can’t wait to introduce you to my youngest son.
Written by Melanie Preston
follow Melanie on Twitter at @augustinmarch