Did you have a premonition about Down syndrome and your baby? 

Well, Gillian Marchenko, thank you for asking in your blog: Premonitions and Down syndrome.

Let’s go back 24 25 Plus years ago…

As a youngin’ my life was clearly a runaway train. Of course, I could see it myself.  But that didn’t stop me from going full speed ahead.  Have you ever seen the movie Topper? It’s a great old Cary Grant classic with Roland Young playing the Topper role.  There’s a scene where Grant’s character is driving his car very fast around a curve, and to quote loosely, another character yells “Slow Down!” and he replies,”I can’t! I can’t help it!” 

Well, that was me from about 15 to 25, I’d say.  I could see that I drove my life in a crazy way to the toughest curves but I just couldn’t stop. I’ve run right towards most of the mistakes I watched my parents make and yet I continued on, determined to make those same “mistakes” with my own flair. Does that make sense? Not really? Well, then you’re getting the picture. 

Premonitions: A Family Business 

There is something of a sixth sense in my family.  My mother in particular often talked of sensing, seeing or feeling future or second dimensional events. What does that even mean?  Like she could sometimes see or hear events happening at the same time, but happening away from her. She used it as one of the many reasons she had to drink. The spirit world, ironically, never pestered her when she was drunk.  There are others in my family who have also experienced some sort of psychic sensations. 

For me, it’s usually just a feeling.  Generally vague and maybe even explained away, in so much as, maybe the reason you had a bad feeling about that dark alley is really because of a combination of experiences, a peripheral yet un-commented-on shadow or person, and let’s not forget fear. But then again…In any case, I’ve learned to listen to it. And if I can change my course, even if inconvenient, I now do so. Because this feeling comes from a different place than worry. I do like to worry.  I must, because I do it all the time. So if a feeling of concern comes on strong, I can and do take a deep breathe and look for where is this feeling coming from?  Nervousness? Some new situation? Cautiousness? or somewhere else?  If it’s somewhere else, well then, that’s that. 

However, back to 24 years ago while I was running full speed off the tracks…So, I’m a naturally maternal creature. When I was a kid I’d dream of having 5-7 children. However, by the age of 16 my body already started telling me, it did not have the same plan in mind. Kind of a dirty trick, really. Anyway, for as long as I can remember I’ve seen folks prepare baby rooms and have big showers and thought, How can anyone go home to that if, well…the worst happened. Nothing could be worse than… 

That is part of why I declined a baby shower. And ended up with little more than a bassinet and a few blankets before my son was born. 

Plus, I knew my pregnancy was already a miracle. 

The extent to which it was a miracle wasn’t “proven” until years later. What a laugh.  

And, as I mentioned, I like to worry.  So when I began to be sick, very sick. My reaction was simple: Protect the Baby!  I know many women have morning sickness, even all day sickness as I experienced.  My pregnancy felt like a lifetime in and of itself. So many weird details, for the sake of this blog let me just say: 8 re-locations, as a starting point. 

Are you Going to get to the Premonitions, Or What?

 Right! Premonitions.  OK.

From the website Visible Embryo

From the website Visible Embryo


Premonition #1) I found sickness to be a premonition in and of itself, and oddly, it gave me comfort.


 You’ve seen me say, or will again, my very clear memory of saying to my mother, “I don’t know why this baby and my body don’t agree, but every time I am sick I know, he’s still fighting.”  I felt very strongly that Marcus was fighting for his life. Later information led me to believe this. The triplicate of the 21st chromosome happens more often than you think. However, many times this baby does not make it to a live birth because the mother’s body and the baby’s do not, jive, let’s say.  (I’m sorry, I’m not going to cite this one, you’re just going to have to trust me.)  

Not that I smiled gleefully while I was sick – far from it – but I did find comfort in the fact that my little man was not giving up.  I counted the days, weeks, months (and I counted on medical science) that he would “cook” long enough to be safe outside of me. 

#2) The closer we got to the birth the more I was excited and also nervous. I was very excited to meet my son.  I told people, I wasn’t scared of labor because it would end in the Best. Prize. Ever. Now, it’s pretty logical to be nervous when you’re 19, single but with a boyfriend who (OY – ‘nother story) and well, going to have a baby. Even though I have only been blessed with one child, I’m still going to say, this was different. An anxiety of an unknown factor I couldn’t put my finger on and certainly couldn’t mention. 

#2.5) This isn’t really a premonition but some of the factors, observations, that were clues. Clues I was oblivious to but I suspect my doctor was not.  The first was the ultrasound.  My first and only ultrasound came when I was about 8 months along. The size of my baby’s head surprised the technician, the proportion wasn’t quite right to his body and this confused everyone (but me) as to when the due date should be.  

The next was the way the baby’s heart looked on the monitors. I remember the nurses commenting then backtracking.  Oh, and back to the ultrasound, Marcus stuck his tongue out. The technician showed me: “Look! He’s sticking his tongue out!” “Oh great,” I said, “I foresee years of fighting over school pictures.” And I’d like to add, I’m glad he did that.  I always smile thinking of that memory.  I could see his personality floating around within me. 

#3) Now, at that time, I did not really know anything about Down syndrome. I knew it was a…thing. A thing some people had.  That’s about what I knew. So this last premonition went entirely unheeded until after there was a diagnosis and,  fair warning, it’s  silly as premonitions go, but still true. 

Do you know the TV series “Life Goes On?” It was a sitcom that went for a few years and began in Sept of 1989. (The month I conceived, by the way.) This sitcom featured a high school aged son with Down syndrome played by Chris Burke. I don’t remember ever watching it, but I was aware of it.  The song’s theme song was, as expected, the Beatle’s   “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”  

OK – the premonition:

“Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on
Yeah, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on”


Played over and over in my mind. I swear  – this song ran through my head NON-STOP the last few weeks of my pregnancy and during my labor. I literally had a momentary flash, when the words Down syndrome floated through the air, “Ah…Well. That explains that.”  Of course, that moment quickly passed into a cavalcade of other, more pressing thoughts and emotions.  But it was there, among the clamor.

So There you have it.

What do you think? The ravings of hindsight or premonitions? 

And Gillian, thanks for asking 🙂 *This #TBT was originally published in November of 2013. However, I still stick to this story. 🙂 


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