Trisomy 18

by Ashley

June 4, 2019

At 16 weeks I had a D&C. It was an unplanned pregnancy that I had embraced and accepted with joy and love. Since I was over 35 I had to get tests done, and I was informed the baby had Trisomy 18. Statistically, the risk was about 1 in 921 for this particular chromosomal abnormality in someone my maternal age and there are fewer than 20,000 cases detected in the US annually. I was distraught and angry. I had to have a follow up a week later to double check on the ultrasound, while the specialist pointed out to me one by one all of the physical issues my fetus had, visibly. I studied the literature on the particular trisomy and the doctor explained it could die at any time. Best case it could live a year, with a lot of support.

The doctors explained what a D&C was several times. Then, just before the procedure the resident said, can you tell me what procedure you are having? It seemed like some sort of legal requirement to ask this, I don’t know- and I said, “an abortion” which he didn’t think was very funny. I was so bitter, furious at the world yet so grateful for the medical care.

Before the surgery my partner and I had a ceremony where we said goodbye and communicated all the love we could to this spirit before letting go. And then I was angry for about a year. I didn’t want to be pissed at all my pregnant friends, or basically anyone who had ever miraculously been born somehow, but I was. Now I’m realizing part of the intensity came from having nowhere to put that energy because you can’t really tell anyone about this experience you went through. No one wants to hear it, our culture has nowhere to put it.

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