How I Overcame the Fear of a Down Syndrome Diagnosis
Guest Blog Post by Jessica Whitsitt
In case you haven’t heard, CBS News is reporting that Iceland is “eliminating Down Syndrome.” When you dig a little deeper, you realize that they are actually aborting almost 100% of children with Down Syndrome.
As a mother of a sweet perfect boy, who also just happens to have an extra copy of his 21st chromosome, it breaks my heart that many people believe a baby like mine is unworthy of life. Why do babies with Down Syndrome not deserve life? Is it because they are not typical? Because their life can have more challenges that are not their fault or that they can’t control?
This is why I believe children with Down Syndrome are being aborted – fear of the unknown. And unfortunately, the medical community does not provide adequate information for parents facing a diagnosis, and often offer abortion as a first option. To counteract this fear, allow me to share what it is like having a child with Down Syndrome.
Your first emotion is fierce protection over them. You want to protect them from the cruel world and pray that they will not come across someone who will make fun of them for who they are and what they cannot control.
The second emotion you will feel is fear, because you don’t know what to expect. Down Syndrome comes in a wide spectrum. Some children are high functioning and they can drive, hold down jobs and live on their own. Some may have heart problems, or not be able to take care of themselves. But all of these symptoms are manageable and our society has greatly advanced in the care and opportunities available for children and individuals with disabilities.
Now we have been very, very lucky. Our son is the healthiest boy I’ve ever seen. He is almost one and never been sick. He seems to be on the high functioning side, but that doesn’t mean there are not challenges. He doesn’t crawl yet. He has not gotten his first tooth. He refuses to eat anything but puréed food. He only started sitting up last week. But so what? He’s going at his own pace and I want him to.
I truly believe Down syndrome children, as well as others with disabilities, can teach us more than we can ever teach them. From them, we can learn compassion, love, and patience. These beautiful souls like my son are the most loving people. They have an appreciation for life that others tend to forget; they do not mourn some life they wish they had.
It is us, those “normal” people, that are the ones who forget to stop and smell the roses, that get caught up in comparing ourselves with our friends and family. Since my son was born, I no longer see the world through just my own eyes, I see them through his.
I want my son to know every day that he’s loved, adored, celebrated and that it is ok to be different. Isn’t that what life is all about? How boring if we were all the same! The richness of life is in learning, growing, and becoming a better person. I strive to be a better person every day for my son. He deserves it. Not because he has the perfect amount of chromosomes, but because he is a person with inherent value and dignity, not so different from you and me.