Letters: Prenatal Choices And The Power Of Apology

Guest host Ari Shapiro reads from listener comments on previous show topics, including the bliss of confusion, the power of apologies and difficult prenatal choices.

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It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, we spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, about moments of wonder: those times when you don't have all the answers, and you can't use a smartphone or Google to get them.

Wendy Miller had this to say: At the age 62, hating retirement, I applied to Amtrak to be a train conductor. With no previous railroad experience, I was hired and sent to Delaware for eight weeks of training, feeling stupid every day. But I did pass and become a conductor. We had to undergo training yearly, so I had to go through this every spring. It was an amazing experience, and I completed five years and retired last summer with a lifetime railroad pass.

We also talked last week about when apologizing can make a difference. Nathan in Springfield, Missouri, emailed: I work in customer service, and I found that it's best to apologize as soon as you find that you or someone else with your company has made a mistake, no matter how costly the mistake may have been. From there, he writes: I offer my expertise in fixing the immediate problem and avoiding it in the future. I have forged many long-lasting relationships with customers who have designated me as their go-to guy because they know that I'm going to be honest with them rather than give them lip service.

And finally, we received a lot of emails about our segment on the difficult prenatal choices people make when they learn that a fetus may have a genetic abnormality. We spoke with two women, one who decided to carry her pregnancy to term, and another who terminated the pregnancy after learning of an abnormality.

Christian writes: My husband and I had genetic testing done with our first pregnancy because my test came up at an elevated risk for Down Syndrome, even though I was only 26 at the time. His first child from a prior marriage is severely developmentally disabled. When we learned our child would be born with Down Syndrome, we terminated the pregnancy, because it didn't seemed fair to bring a second special needs child into the family when there was no way of knowing how functional the baby would be, she writes.

Another listener, Lauren, shares her experience, writing: Today's show hits incredibly close to home. Six weeks ago, my husband and I went in for an ultrasound. Doctors proceeded to tell me about a heart defect they'd noticed in my son's ultrasound. They then continued to tell me how the defect is quite common in children with Down Syndrome. One week after the ultrasound, I got a call from the maternal fetal specialist saying the results from a test came back and were consistent with Down Syndrome.

Lauren writes that she plans to go through with the pregnancy, and she continues: The hardest part for us is still dealing with other people's reactions from hearing, bummer, we'd really hoped for better for you two, you'll never be able to have time alone in retirement, or raising a child with special needs will bankrupt you as they reach adulthood. It's very hard to deal with loved ones whose opinions and outlook are openly pessimistic, she writes. For us, besides the fear of the unknown - open-heart surgery on an infant, raising a child with special needs - the fear of the familial negativity and distance is much greater.

If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. Our address is: talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the show there @totn. I'm @arishapiro.

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