The potential problem with the fetus was related to something called nuchal translucency. It seems that at a certain stage of the development most fetuses develop fluid at the back of their neck, kind of like a blister. If the thickness of this is over a certain number of millimeters at around 12 weeks, it is an indicator of a potential chromosomal abnormality, and unfortunately our child was well over the limit.
This condition is an indicator for mainly three different disorders. Two of them would lead to our child living only a fleeting life, though fortunately have a very low possibility, and the third disorder was Down syndrome. Factoring in our particular circumstances, there was something like a 70% possibility of this occurring.
We were faced with some tough decisions. Do we want to take further tests, or just leave it to fate? If so what kinds of tests? And finally, what were we to do to if a test came up positive for a chromosomal abnormality? They were not at all nice things to have to think about.
I was fully prepared to bring a child into this world that had Down syndrome, but really worried about my age, and how long I could care for a disabled child. I am 50, and all of my grandparents, as well as my father, passed away in their early to mid-70’s. If I were to follow the same path, I would only be around for twenty something years to care for our child. If my wife passed away around the same time, our child would be left to fend for itself from the age of twenty something, because we would have no immediate family to take care of it. That was my biggest fear: departing this life and leaving a disabled child to fend for itself.
After much pondering, our final decision was to go ahead with the most intrusive but accurate test, and if it came up positive for Down syndrome, to still go ahead and raise the child. Life, at the end of the day, is a precious thing.
It took some time before we could have a test, and the first attempt failed in the taking of a sample. The second attempt succeeded but we had to wait for a month for the results to come back. It was a nerve wracking time as we are prepared ourselves for bad news…
…It turned out that we were twice blessed: once in having a child, and once more in the fact that no chromosome all abnormalities could be detected.
Even so, the doctor said there could still be a possibility of some kind of heart defect and asked us if we wanted to test for that. That required waiting another couple of months until the fetus developed to a stage where it could be tested. We waited, took the test and crossed our fingers…
“a fleeting life”
The adjective “fleeting” means for a very short time. It is often paired with words such as “glimpse” (a very short look) or “moment” (a very short period of time). For example, “I saw Queen Elizabeth, but only caught a fleeting glimpse. / For a fleeting moment I thought I was going to faint.”
“leave it fate”
To “leave it to fate” in this case means to do nothing and let nature take its course. In simple words, just wait and see what happens.
“bring a child into this world”
To “bring someone into this world” means to give birth to a child. It is a more poetic way of saying it. This phrase can also be used to talk about people who assist in delivering babies, such as doctors, nurses and midwives.
“departing this life”
To “depart this life” or “depart this world” means to die. Maybe you are familiar with the euphemism to “pass away”. These phrases are also euphemisms, which talk in terms of departing (leaving), as opposed to dying. It is the sort of wording you might find in a eulogy.
“after much pondering”
To “ponder” means to carefully think about or consider something, often over a long period of time (e.g. I often find my self pondering the meaning of life. / He went very quiet, while he pondered what his next move would be.)
“at the end of the day”
The phrase “at the end of the day” is the same as “after all” or “when all is said and done”. It means after everything has been considered (e.g. You can have natural talent, but at the end of the day, it is practice and perseverance that matters.)
“we were twice blessed”
To be “blessed” means to be fortunate in having a particular thing. (e.g. We have been blessed with perfect weather this long weekend.) It is often used to talk about having a child (e.g. They were blessed in having three wonderful children who grew to be fine adults.)
This time some of the expressions were a little more weighty, because it was a serious time for me, but I hope some of them are useful.
See you next month!
Hello! My name is Simon.
I am from New Zealand, and have been living and teaching English in Japan since 1999.
My hobbies include movies, playing the guitar, gardening and hiking.