Sunday, June 22, 2014

All Life is Precious

    Since having Bryce, I have joined a few Down syndrome groups on Facebook. Almost every day, I read a blog post or see a comment that includes the awful things doctors and nurses said to parents after receiving the Down syndrome diagnosis. It still shocks me. It's not even doctors and nurses from 20 years ago. It's still happening! Abortion seems to be the obvious choice. You couldn't possibly want to raise a child with....gasp!....extra genetic material, would you?!? It's not too late to get rid of "it". You have options. It's not too late, but you must decide quickly.

    I didn't have a prenatal diagnosis, and I can only imagine how terrifying it would be. I'm sure it would lead to months of mourning, uncertainty, and research. And the research is terrifying too....I did some after Bryce was born. I don't know for sure how my doctor would have reacted to a prenatal diagnosis. But I know how she reacted when he was born....

    She hugged me while I sobbed. She sat on my bed, looked in my eyes and said, "You and Mike are wonderful parents with a beautiful new baby. You're going to be just fine." 

    .....that's it. No scary stories of what life will be like. No talk about adoption. No talk about people on waiting lists for one of "those" kids. Just that everything would be okay.

     When I sobbed about all the ultrasounds we did we NOT know?? She again looked me in the eyes and said, "Would you have done anything differently? Would it have changed anything? (she knew what my answer would be) Although today is hard, I think it's good you didn't know. You didn't need one more thing to worry about during that (already stressful) pregnancy". 

     It seems (from the stories I read), I'm one of the lucky have a doctor like that. Women have all kinds of reasons why they believe abortion is the best or only option. While I can't imagine considering it, I understand why some women do. But I'm here to tell you, Down syndrome alone is not a reason to abort. No more than having a girl when you wanted a boy, or having a child out of wedlock is a reason to abort.

     If I would have known ahead of time, and made that choice, Connor would have missed out on this:

     And I would have missed out on this:

     And the world would have missed out on this:

     I recently attended the 8th grade graduation Mass for the last class I taught at Blessed Trinity. The auxiliary bishop did a beautiful homily, in which he addressed the graduates. What he said really resonated with me. He told them all that God made them on purpose. When a mother and father come together to make a baby, there are millions of different babies that could be made. That genetic material could combine in millions of ways....but God chose you....out of all those possibilities. Wow. There are a million ways God could have given Bryce 46 chromosomes. But he didn't. He gave him 47. Just like he gave him brown eyes and the world's most contagious smile. He wasn't a freak accident. He is our son. Just like Connor is our son.

    I beg you, if you or anyone you know ever receives a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other "scary" thing.....don't make a decision based on that fear. Every life is precious, and doctors need to start realizing this. EVERY SINGLE LIFE is precious. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Still Here....

      I'm still here....just crazy busy. I couldn't believe when I looked at my blog and saw that my last post was in March. We have been so busy! I am in a constant state of confusion about what to do next fall, looking at jobs, looking at our options if I do decide to go back to teaching full-time, worrying about what would happen with Connor's preschool situation if I go to work; fluctuating between wanting to go back and knowing it makes more sense to stay home one more year. I just keep hoping the answer will land in my lap one of these days (anyone want to call and just offer me a job I can't refuse??? Anyone???)

     Now that Connor is done with preschool, we had NOTHING on the schedule today. Ever since I went back to teaching in February, we have had very few (if any) days with nothing on the schedule. It is an absolutely gorgeous day, so the boys and I decided at the last minute to go to the zoo. Bryce loves going to the zoo now, and it is so fun to watch him be aware of the animals and want to be included. He is not happy just sitting in the stroller the whole time anymore! Connor is reading really well now, so he had to stop and read all the signs to me as we passed them. For these reasons, the zoo was a different (and more fun!) experience today. It's so enjoyable to watch these boys grow up!

     It's hard to believe, but Bryce will be two in just two short months. As much as I have every intention of treating Bryce just like any other kid, I have realized many times lately that I don't hold the same expectations of him as I did of Connor at that age. I hate it, but it's true. I know it's because he isn't capable of as much as Connor was....he isn't walking or talking, so I can't possibly expect the same things of him. But, I have so much guilt about not giving him credit for what he DOES know.  I hate that I underestimate him...the exact thing I say I don't want people to do.

     He has gotten good at reminding us of his age know, like throwing fits.....and refusing to do things we want him to do.....and fake crying for sympathy....all those fun two-year-old behaviors. I always tell him, if he wants to exhibit the negative behaviors of a two-year-old, he better start working on exhibiting some of the positives too :) I want to hear that kid say "mommy"!

     Today at the zoo, I had a great moment of pride in Bryce. Every time we saw fish (which is many times throughout the course of the zoo), I would make Bryce do the sign for "fish". He loves fish, so he was a fairly willing participant in my sign language lesson :) When we got to the penguin exhibit, one of the penguins was swimming back and forth in front of the glass. Bryce looked at me with a big grin on his face and signed "fish"! I realize that a penguin isn't a fish, but it certainly looked like one, swimming back and forth like that. I was so proud and excited....that was not only communication, but recognition as well! He wasn't just mimicking me....he saw that thing swimming and knew what it was! This may not seem like much, but to me, it was yet another reminder that he knows a lot more than we realize. It's so fun watching him use more and more sign language--and he always makes sounds while he does it, so I know the connection with oral language is there.

One funny Connor quote before I go--

 C: "Mommy, do you know where coffee comes from?"
Me: "Yes, it comes from coffee beans....from a plant."
C: "Yeah, and it comes from caribou too."

I guess he read the Caribou Coffee sign that we had just passed. That is kind of misleading, isn't it? :) Having a kid that can read is a whole new can we possibly hide anything from him anymore?!?!

Take care, and enjoy the weather!

xoxo, Julie