I recently posted that I was going to do this, so here goes.
A recent controversey in the blogosphere got me thinking. I very much want a child. But is there any circumstance under which I would choose to terminate my pregnancy? The answer, dear reader, is yes. You may find me selfish, but I am who I am.
I have an acquaintance who has a profoundly disabled child. The child will not live much past the age of 10. One of the child's parents once relayed to me that the hard part of having this child is not watching the child go through life with these disabilities. Indeed, although the child doesn't experience anything like healthy children do, the child appears happy and loving at the level the child is able to exist at. The parent relayed to me that the hard part is dealing with the parents' own expectations, dealing with the fact that this child will never walk or talk or go to the prom. The parent said that if you just live in the moment and enjoy the child for what the child is, it is an enjoyable experience. . .it is when you start to compare the child to a healthy child, when you start to think about what is missing and all of your own hopes and expectations, that it becomes unbearable. I consider this parent one of the most noble people I've ever met. I totally get where this person is coming from. But if I had a choice, I wouldn't choose that for myself or my child.
I have other friends who had a child die before the age of 2, to a horrible deadly genetic disorder neither knew they were even carriers of. It's one of those weird things that about 4 people in the world have. They can never have a child together, as there is no way to test the embryos for the disease. Needless to say, they have been devestated by their experience. While their child brought great joy into their lives for the short time this child was here, the fallout has lasted so much longer. Seeing what they've been through, I just can't imagine choosing that for myself.
If I discovered during pregnancy that my unborn child definitely had a serious birth defect, I think I would choose to terminate. This is bound to sound cold and calculating, but there is a big world out there, and a finite amount of resources available. I don't see the point in bringing a life into this world who will require hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care, and may never have particularly good quality of life. There are so many living, breathing children in various parts of the world who die horrible deaths because they don't have very basic things, like clean water or sufficient food. I think it is nutty that because I live where I do (and have the fab insurance that I have) I could call upon the medical profession to pour resources into a single child, who they may never be able to make well. I don't believe in life at any cost, unfortunately. I sort of wish I did. But why should I be able to do this, because I have the benefit of living in a wealthy nation?
I am officially of "advanced maternal age." I am at that age when the risk of birth defects skyrockets with every passing month. I don't know how I'll feel, if I am actually faced with any of the aforementioned scenarios. I do know that if/when I get PG again, I'll be having every test possible, so that I can get as much information as possible, so that I can make the best informed choice possible.