October is a month devoted to many different things. One of the most important is that it is the month in which I was born. (Kidding!) In all seriousness, the month of October is also for raising awareness about many, many topics. While almost everyone (I think) knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I have written about October being dedicated to the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are three other subjects that October is dedicated to. The month of October is also “Respect Life Month”, “National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” and “Down Syndrome Awareness Month.”
These four topics of the Holy Rosary, Respect Life, Pregnancy and Infant Loss and Down Syndrome for me and my family are all intertwined like grapevines in a vineyard.
If you have read earlier posts regarding my pregnancy with our son, you know that we were told during my first trimester that my son had a 9 in 10 “risk” of having Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome. You will also remember that we were also told that we had “options”, which we believed meant abortion and that as pro-life Catholics, our only option was to give our child life. To read more about our experience, please click here.
While we chose to follow God’s will and did not take our child’s life through abortion, we fully understood that our son may not make it to the end of pregnancy. The genetic counselor that we met with who delivered the results of the prenatal test told us that there was a chance that if our son did have Down Syndrome, that we could miscarry. In fact, there is a significant likelihood that women who are pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome will miscarry.
My husband took to the internet and found that “chance for miscarriage at about 50% in the first trimester and 40% in the second trimester. This means that if you started with 10 pregnancies positive for Down Syndrome, 5 would miscarry in the first trimester and, of the remaining 5, 2 would miscarry in the second trimester. Meaning that out of 10 pregnancies, only 3 would make it to full-term.”*
The realities of what we were facing was disturbing. As each day, week and month went on and as our little love continued to breath, kick, hiccup, wiggle and grow, we praised God and continued to clutch and pray the Rosary with growing fervor. It felt as if we were crawling to the finish line, all the while terrified that we wouldn’t get there. Each day, I prayed that our son would live and, if it was according to God’s will, be as healthy as possible.
Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the angels, saints and relatives that we prayed for their intercession, we received our miracle. Our son was born healthy. It just so happens that he also does not have Down Syndrome. But that is not wherein lies the miracle.
The miracle is not that my son does not have Down Syndrome. The miracle is that my son is alive.
Two weekends ago, my husband, my son, and I went to the Buddy Walk® hosted by the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island. It was an event that we had longed to go to since we first were told that our son could possibly have Down Syndrome and an event that we will most definitely be attending each year.
As I looked around at all the beautiful people of all ages that were surrounding us who had Down Syndrome, I could barely hold back tears thinking that there may be a day in which people with Down Syndrome do not get a chance to walk the Earth.
Due, in part, to prenatal testing, people with Down Syndrome are being eradicated from the Earth.
Almost NO babies with Down Syndrome are born in Iceland.
“That’s because nearly 100 percent of women in Iceland who receive a positive test for Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy. In Denmark, 98 percent of pregnancies with a Down Syndrome diagnosis are terminated.
In France, it’s 77 percent and in the United States it’s 67 percent.”*
These facts are terrifying and it frightens me to the depths of my soul.
I hope it terrifies you as well. I say this not to harm you but to inspire you to join me in making a difference.
Please visit the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island to learn more about their wonderful organization and visit them on Facebook.
Also consider visiting "Saving Down Syndrome" on Facebook. Their mission is to "We wish to ensure that prenatal screening exists only to provide unborn children with Down syndrome and their parents with life-affirming, unbiased care through advocacy, education, support and understanding; worldwide."
While my husband and I decided to “keep” our son, there are others who have been faced with the same circumstances or perhaps other circumstances, and for whatever reason, decided to abort. Regardless of the reasons that someone has decided to abort, to them, I offer my love and prayers for you and the baby (or babies) in Heaven.
While my husband and I welcomed an adorable, loud, screaming, wiggly, precious baby boy into our arms on that cold and windy December afternoon, we understand there are so many others who have lost a baby or babies, due to miscarriage, stillbirth, in infancy, childhood or other circumstances. To them, I offer my love and prayers for you and the baby or babies in Heaven.
And to all the beautiful babies, children and adults with Down Syndrome, whether you are here with us on Earth or in Heaven, I offer you my love and prayers so that others can see that you truly are “more alike than different” and that every person deserves the Right to Life, from conception until natural death.
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
Leach, Mark. “Down Syndrome & National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.” Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing, 15 Oct. 2015, www.downsyndromeprenataltesting.com/down-syndrome-national-pregnancy-and-infant-loss-month/.
“Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island.” DSSRI, www.dssri.org/.
Wakeman, Jessica. “The Debate Over Terminating Down Syndrome Pregnancies.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 Aug. 2017, www.healthline.com/health-news/the-debate-over-terminating-down-syndrome-pregnancies.