Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Out of Left Field.

Ever have a smooth day when all of the sudden, out of left field, comes something you were completely unprepared for? 

We had one of those rare days where we weren't completely swamped with patients and could actually leave the building for a real lunch break, today. Most of us took advantage of that fact.

As it often does, conversation turned to marriage and family, with the single gals fielding questions about marriage and the married gals fielding questions about children. Only 2 of us in the group actually have children. We weren't fielding questions at all. ;)

The conversation took a turn and left me feeling as if I'd been sucker-punched. 

One of the single gals declared, "I just want to have a child before I'm 35." She was asked, "Why 35?" and my stomach started to churn a bit. 

I knew what was coming.

"No offense, Tara, but I don't want a Down's baby."

Rationally, I understand where she's coming from. She's young and is lacking the experience to see that life is not so easily controlled. She has no children and doesn't yet understand that all children have special needs. She doesn't have the spiritual wisdom to know that children are a gift, not a right, no matter how many chromosomes they sport.

Emotionally, I was a bit undone. I know what she said, but I heard, "I don't want a child like yours. He's not good enough. I will avoid one like him at all costs." My momma bear instincts were rising up and I'm afraid I was rather snarky in my response.

"You do know," I said pointedly, "that 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35, right?" She did not. The rest of the conversation is a little fuzzy as I tried to get control of my emotions.

Eon is not a mistake. He isn't a tragic accident. He is not a statistic to be avoided, or worse, a problem to be terminated. He was born in the image of an Almighty God who chose for him to be here. He is a gift. I am blessed to be his mom!

Honestly, it is harder (in some ways) to parent a child with Down syndrome. I'm sure even more complications will arise with age. 

But, I many difficulties are a true result of the extra 21st chromosome, and how many are simply a result of our culture? If ignorance, discrimination, self-absorption, and a general sense of entitlement were not part of our societal norm, would it be easier to raise a child with special needs? I think it would.

My life would be easier if I didn't feel like I had to defend my child's very right to exist. If I didn't feel like I had to prove to everyone how very worthy he is of acceptance, I could relax and enjoy him. My life would be cake if I didn't have to counteract basic ignorance of Down syndrome that I encounter almost daily (Ex, this week alone: Ds is caused by vaccines, only women over 35 have babies with Ds, "they're all so happy," "most of them can't talk," "you can teach them to read?", etc.).

The only frustration I have currently that is actually related to an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, is that Eon can't yet verbally communicate with us and I am certain that he one day will. (He's only 2 1/2.)

I wish that she could truly see how this child has my heart. How he has enriched my life in ways the "typical" children cannot. How he embraces life and expects us to do the same. How he is so very much like his typical peers and his differences only enhance him; they do not define him. 

She really doesn't know what she's missing.


  1. literally standing in my chair applauding you Tara! This is what Ive been saying and I guess as long as I live in this messed up world will contiune to say until the day I die..... Being Graces mommy is the most beautiful thing, it just changes the minute we walk.out.the.front.door. and I have to see the looks, talk to the Drs like I know more than they do,nine months of trying to get a hearing aid of some sort-shaking my head in disgust, talk to people who think I have lost my marbles because I want her to be home with me all day every day for just a little longer. If you could only hear the emotion oozing out of my fingers as they pound the keyboard. Im just sayin'......

  2. Such a great post, I have been there and it's no fun. Good for you for saying something that might make her think and reflect. Hugs

  3. I have to say I am taken back by the young woman's comment...and I am not sure if I would have been nice...or cry...or just sit back and say nothing...I can so relate to you feeling like you have to defend your child's life and very presence in this world...I think that is what is sad and hard to take...I think people are just scared of the unknown...but little do they know the unknown is what makes life worth living...smiles

  4. Oh, good grief. "No offense, ____________, but I don't want another tactless rude idiot populating the world, so I hope your ovaries shrivel like raisins." Give me a break. Can't believe she acknowledged you were in the audience and still delivered that statement. Nitwit.

  5. Tera,
    The point you make about a sense of entitlement really struck it with me. People feel entitled to many things in modern America, but one particularly strange and selfish one is the entitlement to a comfortable and predictable social setting; which is why they flip out when things go socially wrong. Kids, with or without ds, break this pattern for their parents & those they are around because, simply put, kids are weird. I like it though; as Jeanne McCullough says, Normal is just a setting on a dryer. Your future with Eon is guaranteed to be a journey that teaches you that the rules people give you aren't what you have to, or can, follow. And that's a great thing!

  6. Heart breaking. I can't believe she felt it was ok to say something like that to you. If she knew Eon, she couldn't possibly say something like that. She is saying it out of ignorance. So sorry that you had to deal with her though but glad you gave her a piece of your mind!

  7. Ok...I am laughing my butt off at ch's comment! A perfect response! haha...But seriously I don't know what I would have said...I think you did great Tara! And I loved this post...You know what I agree, raising a child with a disability would be easier if were were not constantly hurt by society and how they view our children...If we didn't feel like we always had to defend their existence. This was very well said. Loved it :)

  8. A/Nicely said Tara and
    B/ch - I'm saving that for future use!
    I work with a bunch of younger women too, and there is an endless stream of baby showers that I try to avoid. Doubt they want me there either since I'm the Herald of Things Gone Wrong (twice over!)

  9. I can't believe someone would address you, and still make the comment. How could it not be heartbreaking. My sister and I had a similar conversation a while ago. She had asked if hubby and I would still have baby #3 (I'm currently preg with #2) if I was over 35. I said yes, why wouldn't I? She said well you aren't supposed to have kids after 35. She wasn't being mean, just wasn't even thinking about WHY drs say things like that. I told her that another child just like Claire wouldn't bother me at all. And you could see the light bulb go on. I don't think she realized she still had the "scary down syndrome" worries in the back of her mind. Once it was personalized it was different.

  10. He is wonderfully made by a loving creator! But a person who hasn't been blessed with that wisdom can't know better.