I was reminded this morning, while listening to Womans Hour, about late pregnancy and testing for Down's Syndrome. As I was an 'elderly primagravida', I had two amniocentesis tests at 16 weeks, one for each child, and was sure that it was the right thing to do. I just knew that I would not be the kind of mother who could sacrifice everything for a disabled child - at least I thought so at the time. Of course then I was in what I believed to be an absolutely secure, loving relationship. As it turned out, I was left on my own to bring up two children anyway, but at least they were (thank God) sound of mind and strong of body. The decision as to whether to terminate a pregnancy didn't actually present itself - but I was reasonably sure that we would have made that decision. Now, if I look at Son and Daughter and think that they might have been considered damaged or "unnacceptable", it's quite unthinkable that we might have ended either of their lives.
I have an old friend who decided against the amniocentesis test when she was also considered an 'elderly primagravida'. The decision was made on financial grounds,
which I found quite extraordinary. They, the then couple, were unhappy about paying for a private test, and weren't offered it on the National Health because she was borderline (35 I think). Of course, it turned out that her baby did have Down's Syndrome. Sod's Law. And they decided that they couldn't cope with such a burden, so the baby was sent for adoption. They went on to have another baby, a healthy boy, but never told him that he had a living sister who was disabled. The marriage foundered, of course, but the son, now in his twenties, doesn't know to this day that he has a sister somewhere. Just another of life's little tragedies.
My precious Daughter and Grandson are on holiday this week on the Isle of Wight. It's strange not seeing them every day, but something I have to get used to because they will soon be moving on, leaving Brighton and getting on with their own lives. This means that I will have all the time in the world to walk, cycle, write, read and paint - all the things I was looking forward to doing before they landed on my doorstep nearly three years ago. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." And somehow, I know that 'life' will be much quieter and rather lonely without that little boy running towards me, arms outstretched, shouting "Nana"...