A few months ago, a friend and I were discussing a comment made by Michelle Duggar on her show 19 Kids and Counting. Mrs. Duggar was consulting her doctor about having more children at her age and as they discussed the risks, she remarked that she has been “dodging these odds” for over a decade already.
My friend said that as she watched the show, she waited for “It”.
I recently read a blog post about a mommy and a surprise pregnancy- at the “high-risk” age.
I remember a conversation with a friend who didn’t want to have any more children after 35, because, “you know-the ‘risks.”
“Oh, you mean like having a child with Down syndrome?” I asked as I bounced my little “risk” on my hip.
Children with Down syndrome are born to mothers of all ages. In fact, more babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 simply because more women in that age group give birth.
According to the CDC, one in 700 babies is born with Down syndrome.
That number is pretty large actually considering the number of babies born daily.
And for those of us who didn’t “dodge the odds” – however small or large those odds happened to be…
We wait for “It”.
“It” looms large and hangs in the air.
“It” may be on a TV show, a movie, in an article, a blog or during a conversation.
I find myself holding my breath until “It” comes.
“When the doctors told me my daughter could have Down syndrome because of my age, he put me in a room full of these pictures. So I turned my chair the other way. I confessed she would not have “It” and she didn’t. And she is SO smart.” This from a dear sister in Christ, who finally told me because she thought I was ready to hear it.
No, not really ready.
One friend, on several occasions, a friend revealed to me that she would have aborted her baby if the test came back positive for Down syndrome.
Confession is good for the soul they say, but not always to the one hearing.
I often shake inside as the conversation unfolds. That building and escalating to the peak of that point when I know “It” is coming … and I often struggle with what to say.
“I wonder how many babies are aborted because the doctors were wrong and they were perfectly fine.”
My mind hears that to aborting a baby without “It” would be worse.
And my heart hears an underlying insinuation that people without “It” are more valuable.
I often weep that people find my son and those like him so undesirable and worth dodging.
Even the website for the CDC classifies “It” under birth defect. I shudder as the URL pops on my page.
According to the CDC, my son has a defect. Why after twelve years of his life is this still so fresh?
Is it because I never even had “It” on my radar? Is it the attitude that “It” is the undesired result?
”It” is not just Down syndrome, but any disability. The attitude is much the same. So I nod and smile as people discuss the baby who was supposed to have this and that condition and is now the smartest, the most athletic, and the-whatever-opposite- of-what-they-were-told, – all the while I am screaming inside.
“Don’t you see?!?! There’s more to him! He is not “It”! I love him just as much as my children who don’t have “It”!
Why can’t the world see? Why did I never see before “It” entered my life?
I am saddened that a godly woman, known for her desire to have as many children God allows, missed an opportunity to tell the world she would welcome a child with Down syndrome.
Yet, I do believe Mrs. Duggar’s comment was not meant to be hurtful.
She and her family are obviously pro-life, making their beliefs very public. Recently, her daughter Jessa was blasted by the media for comparing abortion to the Holocaust. She specifically referred to Down syndrome:
“Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights–their right to life….The belief that some human beings are “not fit to live.” So they’re murdered. Slaughtered. Kids with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The sickly. The elderly.” And she goes on to say all life is precious.
I realize our words do not always line up with our intent; I believe Mrs. Duggar was trying to prove a point to those who think she may not need to “risk” having another child.
Unfortunately, “It” becomes the reason.
I am, however, horribly offended that a mother would look at a child with Down syndrome and tell her mother, “God would never do that to me.”
What is it about “It” that makes people so brazen?
I hear countless stories from my fellow special-needs parents of rude remarks, opinions, and unsolicited advice.
What makes “It” so horrible and frightful that doctors suggest ending an innocent baby’s life?
Why does not having “It” prompt cheers of Hallelujahs and testimonies of God’s goodness?
Did God not show Himself faithful to me? What about those, like me, who prayed for “It” not to be, but is?
I know now that “It” is not a failure, lack of faith or unanswered prayer as I once thought.
On this side of “It”, I see the delicate beauty of those who look a little different but love unabashedly.
I treasure friendships formed by bonds of “It” that I otherwise may have never known.
On this side, I cling to His promises, praising Him for each new success, no matter how seemingly small.
I am struck by the enormity of a tiny word as I look back to one of the most difficult times of my life – when I awaited the test results for “It”.
The fear of the unknown and pride of the unfathomable plunged me into a chasm of anguish when “It” was confirmed and would soon be my reality.
Then I saw the face of “It”…
And love overwhelmed my soul while gratitude flooded my eyes for the exquisite creation from my God Who trusted me with such a gift.
A good and perfect gift just the same as if he were born without “It”.
“It” looks with longing almond eyes and smiles with hope.
“It” speaks with no words, while I beg God to quench the suffocating silence.
But challenges and differences don’t make us less, but make us stronger because through Him, the weak are strong.
The strongest I’ve known are weak in the eyes of the world.
If only my mere, fallible words could express my mama’s heart and tell of the love that is so deep and saturating to the point of that it practically hurts.
“It” will always be a part of my son’s life. Of my life.
I’ve heard so often when speaking of “It”, “Doctors are not always right. They don’t know everything. ”
Misdiagnoses do occur. But in our case, the diagnosis was correct.
But the doctor didn’t know everything.
Because no doctor could predict how much I would love and protect and guard my precious boy with a fierceness I didn’t know I possessed.
The doctor, who during his bleak announcement of doom and who could not see past “It”, would never see the exquisite and unique little soul that is my son. He didn’t know that child I was carrying would change hearts and minds.
No one prepared me for what “It” would mean for our lives.
I wonder if He waits for “It”?