How many times have you heard of the word syndrome? How many times have you noticed someone that looked and acted differently from what you are accustomed to? Were you impressed? Did it strike you in any way? Feel nervous? Or maybe even a little scared? Here is the story of a couple that undertook a Non-invasive Prenatal test!
Love doesn’t count chromosomes.
Chromosomal disorders manifested as syndromes are an everyday reality for many families. Behind the scenes of the established norm, there are people that walk parallel to this, but are unfortunately not always viewed as a part of it.
I had previously experienced living, and relating with people with Down and Edward’s syndrome in Lourdes, a beautiful pilgrimage town in the French mountains. Most recently though, I also experienced relating to the optic of parents: an old friend of mine living in the UAE with his newly-pregnant wife decided to take a Non-Invasive Prenatal testing and find out their baby’s condition.
Non-Invasive Prenatal Test
The NIPT or cell-free DNA test is a prenatal screening that observes parts of the foetus’ DNA (cell-free DNA) that circulate around the mother’s blood streams. In fact, the test is carried out through a quick blood test, and the syndromes it detects are Trisomy 13 (Patau), 18 (Edward’s), and 21 (Down). The test can be done any time after nine weeks of pregnancy with results coming through within two weeks.
The reason why my friend and his wife decided to take the test was an unexplainable, irrational fear that crept into their minds while planning a future with their baby. I had the opportunity to witness the growing fear in their minds, and saw how they decided to overcome it. Initially, I insisted that this is just a psychological unbalance, and that it has no roots in empirical preoccupations, yet, without any accomplishment. The wife kept insisting that if the ‘phobia’ emerged, there must be a reason, it must be a sign. This is when they started considering the test.
Non-Invasive, Not Invasive!
Having never heard of such tests, I did some research and found out how dangerous they can be for the foetus, and how they can lead to miscarriages. I confronted my friend and his wife many times, but the fear she was dealing with made her delirious, and she wouldn’t listen to reason; she just had to do it! I was shocked that they decided to go ahead with the test knowing what the risks were.
Having unconsciously taken the position of advisor, I was invited to their home the following week. They both seemed calm and relieved, which reassured me. When the conversation re-emerged regarding prenatal diagnosis, they informed me that they decided to take a Non-Invasive Prenatal test. They explained that this is a new form of DNA analysis that causes no harm to the foetus. They knew the test wasn’t 100% accurate but it was better than knowing nothing at all.
Moment Of Truth
The pivotal day finally arrived! I went over to dinner and was greeted by my friend. His eyes looked worn out, but steady, intense like winds after a storm that has passed: strained but ready to move on. He greeted me with a profound hug and invited me to come inside. His wife was sitting on the couch, with her head immersed in a pillow; she was clearly crying. As I approached her, she lifted her head and looked at me deeply with a tearful smile.
My heart skipped a beat. I will never forget her look, the most courageous eyes I had ever seen in my life: eyes that accepted pain, overcame it, and were embracing any outcome that life proposed, eyes of redemption. “This is strength”, I thought; finding that power to absorb pain and torment, and genuinely accept. They told me that the results from the test came out positive for Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), but they were not sad or afraid anymore.
I was enchanted by their words; the pride I was feeling towards them in that moment had never been greater. Furthermore, she admitted that until that day she had been obsessed with fitting in the ordinary. Obsessing with a hypothetical norm had her trapped. She was so blinded by the illusion of normality, that it led her astray from the truth. The only normality in nature is difference, we are all bound by this state of individual uniqueness, which makes us all special in our own beautiful way.
In the end the results were accurate, the baby was born with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). Today she is 9 months old, and I have never seen a cuter baby, gifted by life with the most loving parents.