Monday, February 05, 2007

A life worth living

The opening paragraphs of this article, What's Lost in Prenatal Testing, brought tears to my eyes. Patricia Bauer, mother of a child with Down Syndrome, writes:
She was a fresh-faced young woman with a couple of adorable kids, whiling away an hour in the sandbox at the park near my home. So was I, or so I thought.

New in town, I had come to the park in hopes of finding some friends for myself and my little ones.

Her eyes flicked over to where my daughter sat, shovel gripped in a tiny fist, and then traveled quickly away. The remark that followed was directed to the woman next to her, but her voice carried clearly across the playground. "Isn't it a shame," she said, an eyebrow cocked in Margaret's direction, "that everyone doesn't get amnio?"

The cruelty of that comment is unfathomable to me.

I thought of our sweet and funny niece, Melissa. Melissa has Down Syndrome. In that mother's eyes, it's a shame she's alive.

I thought of our darling goddaughter, Jenny. Jenny has Down Syndrome. In that mother's eyes, it's a shame she's alive.

I thought of Jenny's dear brother, Michael. Michael has Down Syndrome, and has survived leukemia. In that mother's eyes, it's a shame he's alive.

Did that woman at the playground really believe it? I wonder if she could really look into the eyes of Melissa, and Jenny and Michael and say, "It's a shame you're alive."

She came close ... she simply avoided the eye contact.

The article wasn't completely depressing. By the end of it, I was able to smile with Margaret's mother about Margaret's job, her school roommates and her interest in the Red Sox and wrestling. I looked at Margaret's graduation picture and saw a happy young woman, and a proud family.

I thought again of Melissa. And of Jenny and Michael. I thought of their smiles, of their proud families, and of the happiness and love they have experienced and have brought to others' lives.

And I wondered how anyone could think they are "a shame."

We live in a sad and confused world.


lapazfarm said...

Oh, that is just so incredibly sad. How can anyone be so completely blind?

Linda said...

I have had to defend Kevin's birth more times than you can imagine. I have also been told that if I had enough faith, he wouldn't be in a wheelchair anymore. I have also had opportunity to share my faith with people who cannot comprehend 'willingly' giving birth to a handicapped child. "How do you do it?" "Let me tell you". These are opportunities to life Christ in a dying,selfish world.

Jennifer said...

I cannot believe that another mother would think something like that. I thought we all saw the wonder in each little life created. That is horrible. There was a poll last year that showed 60% of adults would choose not to have a child who would become an overweight adult. Is this a result of the 'Have it your way' kind of thinking?

Kristen Laurence said...

So, so sad. How these people need our prayers. The families I know with severely handicapped children consider those little ones to be their greatest blessings in life. And so do I.

Kimberlee said...

I recently wrote about this on my blog. It is the hardest part of having a special blessing. So sad.

Liz said...

It really doesn't surprise me anymore to see that attitude. When I was in the hospital before my dd was born I heard doctors outside of my room having a conversation. There were doctors from Great Britain doing rounds with the regular staff. They were just about to go into the room next to mine and stopped to talk about the situation apparently. The British doctor said, "Well, in Britain all women are required to have the Alpha Fetal Protein test so we no longer see many of these cases." Clearly the patient they were talking about had a baby who either had neural tube defects or Down's syndrome. I knew it wasn't my baby they were speaking of because we'd had so many ultrasounds that I knew mine was a healthy baby. My mind went back to my own decision to not have the blood test done. We knew from the beginning that we would accept any baby God gave us, not just a perfect one. I wonder what parents of a "perfect" child are going to do if that child is in a car wreck, or gets hit in the head with a baseball in Little League, or falls off a horse. What about when that perfect child becomes an obese, depressed adult, or an underachieving teenager. Will they love them less because they are no longer "perfect" or will they keep loving them because they are their child? I heard a tape recently where the speaker said that Malcolm Muggeridge realized rather early in his life that we have to choose between the sanctity of life and the quality of life. Quite clearly we have become a consumerist society that is opting for quality, but how much we miss as a result.

Leticia said...

I DID hear what the nurses were saying outside my hospital room, "she is doing phenomenally". They were shaking their heads, stunned that a mother who had NO prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome could accept it so readily(90% of mothers with this dianosis abort).
I refused AFP because it's only 20% reliable, and amnio because I had already lost 3 children to miscarriage,and it's dangerous to the baby, and besides, I told my doctor, I know the risks, I'm 39, but I'm pro-life and NOTHING you can tell me about my baby will induce me to kill it.
I had a spiritual insight into what type of child Christina, now 4, was to be, and God prepared me. My story will be a sidebar to an article in the May/June issue of Faith and Family magazine.
For now, visit Cause of our Joy(see the link in the sidebar) or my other blog linked to my name, and see how beautiful and how precious to her family a child with Down syndrome can be.