It’s increasingly common these days for pregnant moms to be pressured to have genetic tests on their unborn baby. Ironically, the amniocentesis test carries a 1% risk of miscarriage, that is, from the test itself. Knowing this, quite a few mothers opt out of it. Many others go along with the testing, sometimes encouraged by their own doctor.
Some have labeled the amniocentesis a “search and destroy mission.”
When actress Lynn Fergusson (especially known for voicing Mac in Chicken Run) became pregnant with her first child at age 37, she was surprised to find that her pregnancy was labelled “geriatric”. She was even more surprised by the relentless pressure doctors put on her first to undergo an amniocentesis, suggesting an abortion of her baby if anything ‘wrong’ was found.
“It’s not technically the baby’s fault that I’m old, you know,” she said. “So I’m not gonna take a risk. Not unless there’s a good reason.”
When the doctors continued to exert pressure, she tried to deflect them with jokes.
“Look, Can You Just Tell Me This Kid Won’t Be a Jerk?”
“Can your test reassure me that this baby is not going to be one of those horrible screaming ones that annoys the hell out of everybody in restaurants and airplanes? Can your test assure me that this tiny, growing human baby will not mature into a fully grown adult with some horrific affinity for Peruvian panflute music? Look, can your test tell me that this kid will not be a jerk?”
Her joking around made a point: There’s no test in the world that can assure a parent that their child won’t turn out to be a difficult person, be severely injured in a car accident at age 12, or in a skiing incident at 20, or come down with cancer at 28. No one can guarantee your baby won’t have autism, or won’t shriek, “I HATE YOU!” at 17, won’t reject every bit of loving advice you ever give him. There’s no way to know you’re young adult won’t leave the church, won’t co-habitate, won’t become addicted to alcohol or drugs. A child born perfectly healthy can have all sorts of less-than-desirable experiences ahead of them that can’t be predicted.
Doctors seemed surprised Lynn wouldn’t subject her unborn child to the amniocentesis. There was the possibility of Down’s syndrome, they said, and then suggested Edwards’ syndrome, a condition where most babies die in the womb, or shortly after birth. Her response was amazing:
“You know, we had so many scans,” said Lynn. “I had seen my son. I’d seen his heart. I’d seen the inside of his eyes. I’d seen his hands and his feet and, in fact, during one of the scans, he’d held his hand up to the front of my body as if to say, ‘Will you go away? I’m busy. Leave me alone. I’m growing.’ I had felt my son move inside my body. What did it matter if he had a disorder or not? You know what, if he was gonna die, we are all gonna die sometime, right? We should meet first. He was my son and he needed me. He depended on me to make the right decision. So I said, ‘No.’”
New mom Lynn had enough negativity when doctors suggested she have an abortion at 25 week – six months. It was “obvious that they wanted a war, but I just wanted to see my baby.”
So she found a new hospital, where, 10 weeks later, Ferguson gave birth to a completely healthy baby boy. His name is Fergus, which in Irish means, “The right choice”, and in Scottish means “courage.”
Now Fergus’s mom is telling her life affirming story on the website, The Moth. Told with humor and a mother’s love, it’s a beautiful example of a parent simply determined to do the best for her child.
See her video story: https://www.facebook.com/TheSceneVideo/videos/1488150397918975/