DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH // to an expectant mother

According to research, 70% of babies in the United States that are diagnosed with Down syndrome prenatally are aborted. 70%. And in some countries this rate is even higher. (Iceland is known for having a 100% Down syndrome abortion rate).

I've written about how I wish I would have done genetic testing with Lindie so we could have known ahead of time that she has Down syndrome. I would have wanted to know so that we could prepare more and also so that we could have saved the drama of the emergency room.

Another reason I wish we could have known prenatally is so I could have chosen little Lindie. Instead, she came into the world with a bang and was thrust on me as a diagnosis first, rather than my child first. I imagine if I had found out ahead of time I would have had more time to make my peace with her diagnosis and be ready to welcome her as my baby girl first, rather than a diagnosis first.

But on this Monday morning I've been thinking so much about this alarming abortion rate, and I've been thinking about my own reaction to my daughter's diagnosis on her birthday, and I can't get it out of my mind. 70% is so high! (And that rate is supposedly down from years before).

I can't help but think that a great deal of those that choose to get abortions do so out of fear (having a baby with Down syndrome is scary!) and a lack of knowledge (unless you know someone who has Down syndrome, you probably have a lot of learning to do!). But I also assume that a lot of mamas choose to abort their babies who have Down syndrome because they, like me, only know what culture tells us Down syndrome is and don't actually have a clue what having a child with Down syndrome is really like (it's a lot more normal than you think!).

I get it though. I'm still a newbie. My babe isn't even a year yet. But even so, I have so much good news to share!

Mamas, Expectant mamas. Future mamas. Maybe mamas that aren't even mamas yet but will someday be mamas: I want you to know that despite all the scary and challenging things you think it is to raise a child with Down syndrome, I want you to know that it is really, really good too. There are hard things. Yes. Those are the things we all hear about. And there are hard things that happen with any child, Down syndrome or not. But there are beautiful and joyous and life-changingly good things too.

I love the way my daughter's eyes light up when I go into her room after a nap. I love the way she babbles in the morning when she thinks she's alone in the room. I love the way she folds into my neck when I hold her on my shoulder and how she plays with my hair. I love the way she giggles and smiles with her whole face and is comforted by my touch.

I just love her. And had she not been born I would have missed out on all that beauty.

I didn't get to choose Lindie, but everyday I tell her I would.  Mamas who are there. That crazy, awful, unique scenario. You have a choice. You do get to choose. You have a unique opportunity to rise to an incredible occasion.

You are not alone. You do have a choice. Your life is not over. It's going to be beautiful. Messy and beautiful and real and hard and all of those things. But it is going to be good,too.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Ah - choosing is always good.

I hope Lindie will know that she was chosen all her life and that she can choose too.

Great words to expectant mothers - and sometimes we all are because maternity is pervasive in this culture

[not to ignore the asexual and aromantic].

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