Here we are, just two days away from 3/21: World Down Syndrome Day! As I wrap up our 21-day series of Down syndrome awareness, I want to loop back to almost where we started – the news that a baby is going to be born and, unexpectedly, be born with Down syndrome.
On Ds Awareness Day#6 I wrote about Dr. Down, for whom Down syndrome is named. I also wrote on Ds Awareness Day#1 about the Down syndrome being a triplication of the 21st chromosome. Dr. Down didn’t discover this, it was actually the finding of Dr. Jerome LeJeune. He was a French pediatrician and geneticist, who discovered the chromosomal cause for Down syndrome in 1958.
Dr. Lejeune spent most of his life dedicated to his research and learning, but he also showed a passion for helping children with Down syndrome, to whom he showed an unconditional love. Dr. Lejeune showed that through both learning and loving, “one can see the beauty of creation.” He advocated strongly against the use of prenatal testing and the abortion of unborn children who were found to have Down syndrome.
It is my personal belief that no woman woke up one day and said, “I hope I become pregnant with a child with Down syndrome so that I can then have an abortion.” The choice to terminate a pregnancy is not one taken lightly, especially in the situation of an unborn child with medical diagnosis. Nor is it without long term effect for the mother and family. Sadly, the abortion rate for unborn children with Down syndrome is staggeringly high. This is largely due to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of an extraordinary burden, fear based on the outdated and unsupportive information often shared at the time of a prenatal diagnosis.John and I had a prenatal diagnosis, and the assumption by many is that we would or should terminate the pregnancy. We were blessed with the support and encouragement by families in our community with children with Down syndrome, who shared their honest experience. In the years since we started our journey, the below video was published by World Down Syndrome Day organization. Grab a tissue and be prepared to be inspired!
Dear Future Mom, CONGRATULATIONS, you are having a baby!