The thing about a small town is that everything is personal and everyone. It’s not just your plumber, but your neighbour, not just your doctor, but your friend and I often wonder what that night must have been like for him. Did he think about it? Did it keep him up at night? Did he tell his wife? How was he going to break the news to me that he too, thought that there might be a chance that Ella had Down Syndrome and if I hadn’t said anything, would he have?
But there it was. A referral to a Genetic Specialist at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Ben’s parents and my mom accompanied us on our first outing with Ella. She cried for most of the hour and half drive to the city as I sat next to her in the back seat cheek to cheek and I told her it was going to be okay. It had to be okay.
The doctor welcomed us into an exam room and began to get a bit of our family medical history – no history of genetic disorders, no toxic exposure, overall, healthy parents with no apparent signs of disease. The doctor, in her gentle way, said that usually, after physically examining a child, she could say 90% yes they had Down Syndrome or 90% no, they didn’t. In our case, she could not commit either way. While Ella had many of the physical signs, she had very good tone and was very alert. As a result she requisitioned for a chromosome count. I think throughout the whole process, this was the hardest moment for me. I knew, I knew that if she could not tell me no, then it was yes but she would not say it. I cried silently, tears streaming down my face, as the Geneticist talked about the implications of Down Syndrome and as they took blood from my perfectly content baby girl I began to cry. The tears came as we ate lunch and as we drove home. The tears came and they didn’t stop because I knew and yet, I seemed to be the only one.