“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Excuses are Just That... Excuses.

I try very very hard to look at the bright side of most things. I am happy and content with my life. I am surrounded by people that I love dearly and who love me too. And I know for a fact that I am luckier than most people out there in this great big world......
Every once in a while something or someone comes along and gets right under my skin, despite my best attempts to not allow it. The infamous redhead temper gets riled up, the cuss words start flying, and sometimes, I feel strongly that whatever it is that bothered me so much has to be brought to light.
That is partly what this blog is for. This is where I vent as well as where I celebrate the amazing creation that is my precious daughter. I try to keep my soapbox preaching to a minimum because I truly feel as if this should be a place of love and light. However, every now and again, I start preaching away, knowing that many of the other mamas will stand behind my words and echo their truth with resounding amens.

I've been pondering this post for a couple of weeks now. Praying desperately that God gives me the words to say exactly what I think needs to be said. Last night, after reading a comment on my dear friend Annie's blog, I found myself itching to jump in the ring yet again for not just precious Ollie, who I love as dearly as my own kids, but for my daughter and the thousands of kids like her already in the world, as well as those who will come in the future.
There are seemingly a thousand reasons that people give to justify why it is acceptable to abort babies like my own. But in reality, when push comes to shove, every single excuse comes down to the same reasons, no matter the wording. In my experience, what seems like a wide range of "concerns" and "reasons" boil down to one of the following:

Excuse #1: "I would never choose to have a child with DS because I would not want my child to suffer."
Does this look like the face of someone suffering from anything?

What I hear when I hear this excuse is "I don't want to suffer." I know a boatload of kids with DS and can honestly say that the ONLY ones suffering at all are those shut away in orphanages and mental institutions across the world and even their suffering isn't because of DS. Its because of the way others view it.
What I really want to know is this: Where does it end? Where do we draw the line? There is little doubt that people "suffer" from depression, Alzheimer's, and other mental illnesses, including drug and alcohol addictions. Do we start testing for these prenatally and eliminating children who may be at risk later in life so as to alleviate their potential future suffering? Appalling thought, isn't it?

Excuse #2: "It isn't fair to my other child/children."
I can honestly say that one of my biggest fears was how my now 13 year old son, who is old enough to understand a whole lot, was going to react to having a sister with DS. I was concerned about how both boys would react to having a baby sister who was facing several weeks in the NICU at birth and who would have to have open heart surgery within the first year of her life. I worried about how well they would deal with the extra time we would have to spend caring for Liddy. I worried that they would someday be forced to care for her after we were gone from this world.
However, I didn't give my kids nearly enough credit. They both adore their sister.....and are her staunchest supporters. They could care less that she learns things slower than other babies her age, or that she has had open heart surgery, or that she has 47 chromosomes instead of 46 like they do.

They, almost more than anyone, love her for herself....because she is their beautiful, sassy, funny sister. And even though I have every expectation that when the time comes, Liddy will live on her own and take care of herself, I'm also positive that if it was necessary for someone to care for her later on, they'll probably be fighting for the opportunity.

Excuse #3:"I wouldn't want to live my life with DS so why should I force my child, who has no choice, to?"
I've been Liddy's mama for a year now. It has been a rough year, given. But I firmly believe that she is closer to God than I can ever hope to be. She teaches me much more than I teach her, and watching the way she approaches life, smiling and laughing, kind of makes me a little jealous at times. Yes, she's only one. But she has went through enough in the last year to bring most adults to their knees. Yet she's still smiling.
She has fought tooth and nail to live. And she lives to the fullest every single day. She shows me constantly that she wants to be here.....DS or not. 

In a recent survey, 99% of people who have DS said that they were happy with their lives, 97% like who they are, and 96% are happy with the way they look. I think that you would be hard pressed to find even 50% of the average 46 chromosome population that felt that positively about their lives. Sounds to me like all of those "kids" are pretty glad their parents gave them life.

Excuse #4: "I don't have the patience...the money...the strength...the faith...the support....the time....etc."
First let me say that if these are sincerely the reasons someone chooses to abort a child, any child, they shouldn't be having kids at all. I'm sorry if that sounds overly critical or judgmental.  But honestly, if we all waited until the time was right and everything fell into place to have kids, no one would EVER have any......The best laid plans usually go awry. It's just a fact of life. There is never enough money. Never enough time. You make time....and the money isn't that important anyway.
Second....not a single parent of a child with DS will tell you that they thought they were well prepared or well equipped to care for their kids. We ALL doubt God's plans and His faith in us every once in a while. Thankfully, He has enough faith in us to keep us going, one foot in front of the other, until we reach a point where we have faith in ourselves. I am sometimes just as overwhelmed by my other kids as I have ever been Lydia. And really none of it has to do with DS at all. It's just being a parent in general. Raising kids, any kid, is a hard job and one that you learn as you go. Parenting a child with DS is no different...except that often the lessons learned by these parents are ones that all of us could stand to learn a little more often......

Excuse #5:"With a diagnosis of DS, and all of the possible health issues that come with it, I might as well kiss my marriage goodbye. And say good riddance to a whole lot of friends."
This is something that was said to me shortly after Liddy was born.
Did you know that divorce rates are considerably lower in the DS community than they are in the general population? It just has to be said. If a marriage fails, it isn't failing because of DS. Its failing because it was going to fail anyway......and if friends walk away because of DS, they weren't real friends either.
My marriage is stronger because of our mutual love of Lydia and surviving the hardships we have been through in the last year and a half. We lean on each other and hold each other up when the road is especially rough. Isn't that what marriage is all about anyway? I haven't lost one single friend because of Liddy's diagnosis. The ones who have been friends for a long time started out loving her because she is mine, and grew to love her more because she is who she is. Not only have I not lost any old friends, I have gained oodles of new ones, which was truly an unexpected blessing. The community of parents who have children with DS is a tight knit one, a family, and there is more love and support within it than I can even begin to explain. It's something that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

While this is no where near a complete list of all the "excuses" we, the parents of little ones who rock an extra chromosome, have heard, these are by far the ones we hear most often. What I most wish that anyone who stumbles upon these words sees in them is that excuses are just that...excuses...and that while the road may not be always easy, it is beyond worth it. Ask any of us who are raising that measly 10% of kids who make it to draw their first breaths. I can guarantee that you would find that unanimously we would all say that our children are absolutely perfect, breathtakingly beautiful, and that if we had it all to do again, we would, in a heartbeat. There are a whole lot of parents that even choose to adopt other kids with DS after having one of their own. While that may be difficult to understand to someone on the outside looking in, for us, it's because we know the secret. We KNOW how amazing our kids are, and we KNOW that every single one of us is better for their existence.


  1. So very, very true ... every word! We are the lucky ones. We know how amazing this ride called life can truly be. :)

  2. You are so good with words. EVERYTHING you said is right on! Hug that little beauty for me :-)

  3. Excellent post and spot on with everything you said!


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