Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I'm already changed

Saturday was my photo shoot for the "Down with You" project and I think I might be forever changed. The photo shoot itself was fun and I got one of the best compliments in a long time... When the photographer met me, he said, "Wow. You are so beautiful. Does your husband wake up every morning and just high five himself?" HA! Too funny! Of COURSE my husband doesn't high five himself over my "beauty", but it's nice to get that kind of compliment when your belly is growing by the day! But the best part of the shoot was getting to meet the parents and also the babies, children and adults with DS. I was mostly pleasantly surprised by their abilities and definitely charmed by their personalities. There was Katelyn, almost 7 years old who was just a joyful, adorable girl. She couldn't have been cuter. When her Father suggested she take a picture with Sharon Stone (who was there supporting the project and a personal friend of hers with DS), Katelyn sort of pouted and said, "Why??!!" Why, indeed. :) And there was Bella, only 9 months old, but who seemed only slightly delayed from a typical 9 month old. She was as precious as any baby I've met. Then there was Kailey, 18 years old, and very much a typical teenager. She talked about how she loved to sing and every once in awhile would just put her head on her Mom's shoulder as a way to show her love. I adored these three in particular because I spent some time with them. I also had amazing conversations with the other parents about how they found out, where they live, what things they consider to be challenges...It was incredible! I left with my head spinning and a little overwhelmed- but in a good way.

Days after the photoshoot, I didn't realize that a real shift has happened for me. Until today. I got to talking to a woman who I don't really know- her son and my son go to school together. But, I happened to run into her at Dr. Ballet's office at my last visit, so she asked if I had seen him during my pregnancy with Christian also. I said no, that we were seeing him for specific needs of this pregnancy. She said, "Is everything okay with the pregnancy?" I responded by saying that yes the pregnancy has been fine, but we found out that our baby has Down Syndrome. She said, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" I told her that we're doing pretty good with the news now, and that while there will probably be unforeseen challenges, that we expect there to be a lot of joy too. She seemed doe-eyed at my response. It was then that she admitted that her previous pregnancy had resulted in a baby with Down Syndrome, but that they had decided to terminate. She is currently pregnant, but hadn't wanted to tell anyone until after her 12 week visit when Dr. Ballet could confirm that there was no Down Syndrome. (I guess she would've terminated again and didn't want anyone to know?) She was welling up as she talked about this... I have always considered myself a pro-choicer, and I think I still am, but I found myself judging it a little after the fact. I have been thinking about all of the reasons that I could support the termination of a pregnancy: serious organ defects, horrible quality of life, even being young, single, and stupid. But, when presented with a woman who is married and trying to have a baby, who terminated solely on the basis of an extra chromosome, I got a little upset inside. I had heard that approximately 80-90% of all prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome are terminated. This would explain why the hell I feel so alone!!!! And now, because of Saturday, I can't help but think that there might not have ever been a Katelyn or a Bella or a Kailey if their parents had followed suit and terminated... What I never realized was that MY decision NOT to terminate, would bring about so much guilt in others- and I know this because somehow my openness and honesty about our situation has brought on a flood of "confessions" much like today. I am damn scared about the possible medical conditions that can exist with Down Syndrome, but I can't think of my baby as anything other than that...my baby. A gift. And maybe he won't solve the world's problems, but he will have value.

I am not a right-winged conservative, and I am not leading the cause for the pro-life movement, but I've discovered that others choices do, and are, affecting me. Especially today. We can call it hormones.


evrfwd said...

thanks for sharing that. you know, i just don't understand why people are so afraid of a baby with DS. i am prochoice, but i am also prolife since my daughter. we didn't have further testing because i guess once i saw my baby, i decided that she was mine. no matter what, she was my child. i wish that others would realize that DS is not a horrible life sentence. when i talk about my daughter i tell people she has ds right off the bat, this may seem strange but i want them to know that she is adorable, she is healthy, she is happy...and yes she drives me crazy sometimes! just like their kid. anyway, i better get off my soap box now. =)

P said...

Oh jen, I too try to cling to prochoice but it's so so hard. I'm Pro-information (accurate info) and ADOPTION. I too have a similar story and a troubling medical incident.

P said...

BTW, you are already healing to world....so Eli is already doing his part to solve the world's problems!

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