Saturday, October 2, 2010
"For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; "~Psalm 139
I was 20 weeks along in my pregnancy with Zoey,when our Level 2 ultrasound detected a heart defect.Too small to give it a name at that point but nonetheless,a defect,a tiny hole.Which later would prove to be not so tiny after all.Previous to this ultrasound I declined any prenatal screening.I was 42.I knew what the medical data said,having a baby at my "advanced maternal age"..This was my 6th child and I just didn't feel the need for tests,especially an amnio.
Two weeks after the initial finding,we were given a definitive diagnosis of an Atrioventricular Septal Defect.The pediatric cardiologist doing my exam said it was a repairable defect but followed with,"we need to know how you want to proceed,you only have 2 week window of time to terminate."I sat,bolt upright,wanted to run from the room.Wanted to throw up actually but instead, gathered my wits about me and said,"I'm having this baby."The doctor asked me if I was a person of faith.I said I was.To which she said,"It often makes the the decision easier."
And for me,for us,it was that easy.From the moment we knew Zoey had a heart defect,that was all that mattered.We had one goal and one goal only and that was to get her here and get her to surgery.Her type of heart defect,AV Complete,told us all we needed to know anyway:she was most certainly going to be born with Down syndrome.The chance she wouldn't be,were slim to none.
When I followed up with my regular OB the next week,I told him how taken off guard I was by the cardiologist's comment,to which he said:"You shouldn't be."What I learned that day and what I have learned since,is that my family is indeed in the minority when it comes to continuing a pregnancy when they know they are having a child with Down syndrome.That blows my mind.What blows my mind even more, are the staggering statistics worldwide:upwards of 94% of pregnancies,of precious babies carrying that designer gene,are terminated.My heart aches just writing that.
When Zoey was born I was asked one thing over and over,time and again,and it was:"Did you know she was going to have Down syndrome before she was born?"For the longest time I didn't give that question much thought until one day it dawned on me.You see,i am convinced, that many are asking that question because they want to know if we had a heads up or did we just get "stuck"."Did we have a choice?To which I proudly say today:"You bet we had a choice." And if we had the opportunity to choose again,our choice would be the exactly the same.Even knowing the incredible obstacles that Zoey would have to find her way through.Despite the extras that came along with that extra chromosome.Regardless of the uncertainty of her future.That choice would be the same.
Because after all,are not each and everyone of our lives filled with uncertainties?When our other 5 children were placed in our arms, with their seemingly "perfect" genetics,we had no idea what the future would hold.In my 23 years of raising children, I have seen a great deal when it comes to the lives of typical children around us and the paths their typical lives have sometimes taken.Alcohol and drug abuse,mental illness,tragic accidents and yes, even cancer.Our children with Trisomy 21, came with some infinite,indisputable truths,that is for sure.But ALL life holds much of the same.
This excerpt is taken from a piece called "Through Rose Colored Glasses",written by Zoey's big sister Caitlin,and I thought it was the perfect way to end this post:"
"But how did such a little baby know about these glasses? How did she know to give them to me. The amazing thing is, Zoey has a pair of rose colored glasses herself.
She was born wearing them.
The blueprints for Zoey's glasses were located on her third 21st chromosome, and they genetically formed right into her very being. Within her genetic makeup, she contains the secret to living a beautiful life: optimism, perseverance, and joy. She does not choose these traits, they are in every cell in her body. She exudes beauty and faithfulness because this is her nature. Zoey's rose colored glasses are not a mark of her ignorance or her foolishness, they are a symbol of her ability to strive in an unfair world. And she didn't have to buy these glasses, shop around for them, or try them on for size, they just came perfectly tailor made for her."
And I cannot say it enough.I cannot be any clearer.The choice today would be the same.How could it not?