Monday, April 25, 2005

More on Choosing

Our families had a large part in our decision to have Ellie, though they don't know it. When Paul and I learned that I was pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, we were so scared. The horrifying, unending enormity of it was daunting. It seemed so much easier to choose to have an abortion.

I knew that I'd feel guilty afterwards. I knew it would be hard to deal with. But it felt to me that occasional pangs of guilt would be easier to bear than a lifetime of taking care of a child with unknown but serious problems. I couldn't envision my baby with Down syndrome, let alone imaging her grown up, or fitting into my dream family, my dream life.

But I could imagine telling my parents, my sisters, my sister-in-law, and my parents-in-law that we'd chosen to terminate this planned and long-awaited pregnancy because the baby had Down syndrome.

They'd be supportive, I thought, but they'd be disappointed, too. They'd feel judgmental, even if they tried to hide it. They – especially Paul's parents – would feel different about me, about us, forever.

Realizing that I would feel ashamed to tell people that I loved and respected that we'd chosen to have an abortion instead of a baby with Down syndrome helped me to realize that abortion would be the wrong decision for me. If I was ashamed of my decision, I needed to look at it longer and harder. I needed to remember what I'd believed from the beginning – that we'd accept the baby that we were given, regardless of her imperfections.

Imagining about what my family would think reminded me of who I am and who I want to be and helped me to make the right decision: the right decision for me and the right decision for my new family.

The decision was almost moot, anyway. Because by the time I knew that I had a decision to make, I could feel Ellie moving and kicking. I was bonded. She was my baby and I already felt so protective of her, even as I was scared of her. This was way before I knew the range of what people with Down syndrome can accomplish. It was certainly before I knew that one day my daughter's developmental therapist would say, "She's a 2 year old trapped in the body of a 1-1/2 year old."

6 comments:

PPB said...

Such a lovely eloquent post----and your little cutie is at 18 months??? She rocks!!! You rock!!!!

Redhead Editor said...

You take my breath away.

Anne said...

Just lovely, Sarahlynn. Thanks! Keep writing...

Psycho Kitty said...

Beautiful.

Yankee T said...

What a lovely post. You are lucky to have her. Good choice!

Beverly said...

My neighbor has six children, and her oldest son has Down syndrome. I have always admired how her children take care of each other, the younger ones taking care of the oldest just a little more than in a typical family, but the oldest providing a lot of love and support, too.