Today is an education lesson.
I wrote a blog about the Blessings of Down Syndrome in June. If you don't want to read it - the just of it is that Down Syndrome has blessed us beyond measure & I am concerned about a new blood test that can now diagnosis DS at 12 weeks prenatally & much more accurately. The current abortion rate is 90%, the Down Syndrome community fears that this number will be much higher than 90% because of this blood test. That's right Ollie Faith is the 10% that survived Roe Vs. Wade because she has Down Syndrome. I believe a large number of these babies aborted were planned, but because lack of education parents are scared and they are led into the mindset that abortion is best because they aren't handed the proper education tools. I also do have sympathy for these parents because I know that single decision will be with them the rest of their lives. My main goal of this blog is educating people about Down Syndrome - because let's face it - all of society think they KNOW so much about Down Syndrome and frankly they don't. They know how to spot a person in a crowd, but to know what that means to their life, they are pretty uneducated.
OK now that I summed it up here is a blog comment I recently received and I want to address it.
I'm sorry Becky - I know you feel like you have a valid opinion because you are pediatric nurse, but the fact is you are not a Mom raising a child with DS. I am very doubtful that you have truly talked openly with these parents to know what they are feeling. I believe you have assumptions of what they are feeling, but you know the saying to assume makes an ass out of you. I'm not trying to be hateful, but I do feel like you need educated on several points.
"I enjoyed reading your blog and I am currently 5 months pregnant and will be 35 at the end of my pregnancy. I am not trying to get anyone upset but I just want to put another opinion out there. I am a Pediatric nurse and also would not end a pregancy based on just down syndrome but I think as a nurse you need to not judge those that do. I care for lots of families with Down Syndrome children and there are several levels of functioning and illness that also incorperate DS. The risk for lifelong cardiac surgeries and hospitalizations is a possibility and the risk of leukemias can also be higher. Some families do make the decision out of fear, but I think for some families it is right, I have seen so many strong marriages devistated by the trials of having children with high medical needs. When you see that little baby of course you want to do everything to save that child and give them a chance at life but doctors don't always share the other side of what can happen if your child does survive with extrodinary measure taken after birth. Some families live at our hospital for years and then have to come to terms with the death of that child later and I know "One more day" is a great song but I often wonder if their pain would have been lessened if extrodinary measure had not been taken and thier family might not have been ripped apart. One person's story of a child with DS is never the same as the next. Yes the DS children that are heathy and high funtioning are a wonderful gift and so sweet. But the decision once the news if given that your child has DS should never be taken lightly, parents should think do they have a good support system, sadly do they have good heathcare, or jobs that support them not always being available, can one parent not work, if they have other children who will care for them if they have a child with high medical needs (mom is at the hosptial and dad has to work), are you willing to focus your life on that child and not on your spouse or other children, because physically you can not do it all! We often have children who are in the hospital for months and their families just go on without them care for their siblings and visit once a week, even go on to have more children. Thank God for these children there are nurses to love them. These families are the ones that should have thought harder about the decision to birth that child. There are people that foster DS children specifically and they are in and out of the doctor and hospital all the time, it is a commitment. Last week this foster mom, said "What's vacation" when I told her about my holiday trip. You need to put it into perspective. I am glad that Ollie is heathy and doing great, what a blessing, may she continue to strenghten your family as you endure regular challenges of raising a child with DS."
Point 1: When you have a prenatal diagnosis at 20 weeks pregnant, like I did, no doctor can view and ultrasound and say "He or She will be high or low functioning." Not possible. Nor can they truly tell you the level of health your child with Down Syndrome will have and if your child has an issue they still don't have a clue how many surgeries you need. True Ollie is healthy now, but she was in heart failure for 4 months pre-Open Heart Surgery. Handing her off was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was worth it. If we would have lost her due to surgery I'd still thank God for her because she blessed us so much in 4 months. Now, just because her heart is fixed don't assume she's as healthy as a horse. We have had 3 ER trips this fall with respiratory issues. But she is still WORTH it. And my other two kids have had ER trips & days of me staying home too - that's part of parenting.
Point 2: There is NO guarantee with any child that they will be 100% healthy. I know typical children that had closed and open heart surgery, that had strokes in utero that have impacted them forever, that were in terrible car accidents, that have cancer. The fact remains that ANY baby may have a serious medical condition that could be the same as you listed & cause medical stays, and if you worry about this - you shouldn't ever have children period.
Point 3: It's been researched and families raising a child with DS have a LOWER divorce rate than typical marriages. Boom - that's right I said it. Perhaps we know something that people with typical kids do not. Probably because we have learned to slow down and appreciate much more in life. I can't explain how Ollie has changed my marriage because shit - that's right I cussed - it's been a hard year - but I am closer to my husband than ever before because we needed each other so much more. This past year has made my marriage stronger.
Point 4: Did you know on average in the US the wait to adopt a child with DS is 3 years? Yes that's right, 3 stinking years for babies that are aborted 90% of the time. Why is that? Why do so many families wait to adopt these kids? It's because we know the SECRET. God let us in on HIS plan. Kiddos that have Down Syndrome are special, but not because they are special needs, because they enhance our life so much more! Why aren't more people doing adoption instead of abortion, well it's harder. It's a hell of a lot harder to hand that baby over to someone once you see it and there are emotions tied to that, so abortion seems easier.
Point 5: How are we any better than Hitler if we abort children because we "fear" the stuff we don't even know about them? Should we line up all the chronically ill children and gas them because they are destroying "strong" marriages and families? No, absolutely not. That thought is absolutely disgusting right? Well, how is aborting 90% of children with DS any different? It's not, it's just not. The only difference is we are killing them as babies before they take their first breath.
The fact is, and I believe this whole heartily, God is in control. It is up to HIM, not us to decide who is worth life.
I still stand by my decision to keep Ollie Faith. It was right, and I was rewarded big time with that baby girl. I have NO idea what her level of functionality will be down the road. And God forbid she develop leukemia (which yes I'm aware her odds are much much higher), but you better believe my husband & I would make it work, and we wouldn't regret her one itsy bitsy bit.