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Ink Slingers Parenting Respect Life Stephanie Vocations

All Things Visible and Invisible

Over a year ago, we learned that our third child would be born with Down Syndrome. The doctor called about a potential marker for Trisomy 21 following my 32-week ultrasound, and in a way, I was not totally surprised. I had noticed it. Our little baby’s tongue extended far out of her mouth several times on the monitor across from me. This being my third child, I’d had many ultrasounds before. I remember uttering these words (which were met by silence from the ultrasound tech): “Wow, I’ve never seen that before.”

My doctor sent us to a specialist for more detailed scans. It was our first time to see any of our babies in the impressively clear 4D view. The specialist told us that the baby might have a condition resulting in a large tongue which may require surgery, or the appearance of a larger tongue could be associated with one of a few syndromes, most commonly Down Syndrome. He kindly printed several pictures of her for us to take home. I studied them carefully. And I saw it. I could detect the features of Down Syndrome from those sweet images. My husband agreed and was the only one to tell me so. 

She was indeed born with Trisomy 21. All the cliches you hear from parents of these wonderful souls have become our new reality. Y’all, it’s all true. It’s so wondrously profound to have a child with Down Syndrome that in a crazy kind of way, I wish everyone could experience it. Since that’s not possible, I will reflect on what I find to be one of the richest aspects of Down Syndrome: often, individuals with Trisomy 21 share common physical characteristics. Almond-shaped eyes. Small ears and mouth. Larger-appearing tongue. Flatter facial features. Did I mention the big beautiful eyes?

Upon receiving the prenatal diagnosis, the physical features caused anxiety for me. Would it be obvious to everyone? Will people stare at her all the time? Will I have to bring up the fact that she has Down Syndrome to strangers? Is Down Syndrome going to be all I see when I look at her? 

She was born and I spent hours staring at my beautiful little girl. I’m not really sure what I was looking for, but I just pored over her face when I held her.  As time passed, I eased up on the whole ‘can people see it/what are they thinking’ thing and just got to know my daughter. The most amazing, relieving, and most common-sensical realization I had was that I do know her. She is mine. She belongs with us. 

As I adjusted to life with three children, I read tons of blogs, articles, and a couple books on Down syndrome and a beautiful thing eventually happened. When I looked at pictures of strangers who share her diagnosis, I felt a feeling that was not present before she arrived: familiarity. In pictures, videos, and out in public, I began to recognize my sweet M in the faces of strangers. Gorgeous, prominent eyes which squint so much for smiles that they nearly shut altogether. Little mouths and ears. The gap between the thumb and index finger. That’s my daughter whom I love. And I so easily see her in strangers. 

What initially caused worry has become a gift. These visible, physical features are present in my child. I got to know them and quickly loved them. They helped me to instantly connect to a group of people I formerly thought of as distant from my world. Now I am grateful to be connected to them and to their parents, caregivers, friends, and family. I am so privileged to know them. I get to look at those features every day and know instinctively the infinite value of the person beneath them. I am so grateful to God for the visibility of Down Syndrome. 

If only I could see every person with that same familiarity and sense of community. But, isn’t that exactly what we are called to do as Christians, to see Christ in all people? God is present in every single person. He is present in us. We are all connected. We are one body (1 Cor. 12).  

Finding Christ in all people is challenging for me. There is a population of individuals that I easily greet with a heart of love. I see them and I know them because they are just like my own. I never before would have expected to relate more easily to strangers inside of the Trisomy 21 community than to those outside of it. 

I feel like I have an advantage with baby M. I have a constant reminder of something I cannot un-know: we are all one body. I bear responsibility for the care of its parts. For me, Down Syndrome and its physical characteristics help to further reveal a truth of the faith more fully in my heart. We are all part of the body of Christ, which consists of the visible and the invisible. It is through faith that we accept this mystery which exceeds our human intellect. Trisomy 21 is an intellectual disability, but as I see it, the world would suffer greatly without these special souls who can reveal a deeper understanding within a person’s heart in a few seconds than any attempt at intellectualization ever could. 

 
 
 
 
 
Categories
7 Quick Takes Abortion Current Events End of life Ink Slingers Kerri Loss Respect Life Respect Life Month

7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 19: Respect Life Month

October is set aside by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as Respect Life month. This coming Sunday is Respect Life Sunday; read the Bishops’ Statement for Respect Life Sunday. So the question is, what can you do during this Respect Life Month? We have seven suggestions for you.

–1–

Pray, pray, pray. Pray for an end to abortion. Pray for respect for all stages of life from conception to natural death. You can pray the pro-life novena which began on September 29. Jump in now or start it on your own. You can pray a daily rosary this month for the respect of all life, you can spiritually adopt a baby at risk of abortion, or pray a Memorare for life and add your prayers to the Memorare Meter on Relevant Radio’s website (look for the meter at the top of the main page). Prayer is one of the most important things we can do.

–2–

Are you familiar with 40 Days for Life? Check out their website for information on prayer vigils in your area. This fall’s 40 Days started in September and goes through early November, so there is plenty of time to participate. If there is not a 40 Days for Life in your area, look into setting one up in your area for the next campaign. In addition, pray along with those who are attending prayer vigils. Again, pray, pray, pray.

–3–

Staying in the prayer theme (hard to ignore it’s importance, isn’t it?), October 12 is the Public Square Rosary Campaign. Over 10,000 cities across the country are participating. Is your city? Check the website to find out. And then attend.

–4–

Respect life extends to all aspects of life, including the end of life. Take some time this month to visit a nursing home. Get the kids involved, contact a nursing home ahead of time to find out if there are any activities you and your kids can do with or for the residents. Just going to visit is also an incredible gift to the residents of the home. I go to one in my area on occasion to visit a friend there. While there we also go into other residents’ rooms to say hi. They always love seeing the kids!

–5–

October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Approximately 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This is an incredibly sad figure. The National Down Syndrome Society hosts a Buddy Walk every year around this time. Most are in October, but depending on where you live it could have been in late-September or could be coming up in early-November. Consider participating in the 2013 Buddy Walk to help raise funds for the Society and their mission of “promoting the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.”

–6–

A great way to promote Respect Life month is by using social media. We are all aware of the downfalls of social media, how about putting it to good use, instead! Share links to pro-life posts, articles, websites, and blogs (you can start with this post, no pressure 😉 ). Share pictures, stories, and more. You never know what might plant a seed in someone else’s mind from something they see you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever else you might use.

–7–

Finally, we want your participation in this last suggestion. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This year, like we have in the past, we will be posting stories from our writers throughout the day. In addition, we hope you’ll share your own stories on your blog (if you have one). Our first post of the day will include a link-up where you can link up your stories from your blog. This will be a great way to share our stories with each other. We hope you’ll participate. Put your post up on October 15 and then come visit us to link it up. Our post will go up at 5:00 A.M. central time that day.

There is so much more that we can do during Respect Life Month. Have any suggestions to add? Let us know in the comments.

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes posts at Conversion Diary.

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Ink Slingers Kerri Respect Life Saints

Protectors of Life or Threat??

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the Wise Men.(Matthew 2:16)Somewhere in the world today a child has died.  This child could have brought much joy and happiness to the world.  This child could have been a positive force in some one’s life.  This sweet, loving, innocent child could have prevented many other children just like her from being killed in the same way.

But none of those things will happen, because this child is now gone.We don’t know who this child is, but like the Holy Innocents that we remember today, her death is the result of a selfish, meaningless act.

The Holy Innocents that the Church remembers today are those male children that died under Herod’s hand.  Herod killed them in a selfish rage, fearing the newborn King he was told about.  Herod was a king, a king of a people he was supposed to protect.  Instead he killed his own citizens.

We are all familiar with the horrors of abortion.  Abortion is a meaningless act often turned to out of selfishness and fear.  So far in 2011, Expose Planned Parenthood reports that one baby is killed every 96 seconds resulting in a total of 324,774 babies just this year (as of this writing).  That is a staggering number!

(Links to statistics, facts, and other resources listed at the end of this article.)

There is no doubt that the abortions of thousands and thousands of children is a tragedy in our country today.  But I can’t help but think of the innocent children who are aborted out of fear due to a positive prenatal test for Down Syndrome or some other sort of disability.  Down Syndrome, in particular, has been on my mind lately.

With about 90% of children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome (DS) being aborted, we are already becoming a country where DS children are few and far between.  If you know someone with DS or have a DS child or family member than you know how loving, sweet, and happy these children and adults can be.  Despite medical issues they might have, despite mental disabilities they may face, these children bring joy to their families and those around them.  DS is not a disease, it is not contagious; many people with DS live healthy lives and life expectancy has increased to around 60 years or so.

And yet, the more I read about it, the more I find that many doctors don’t paint a very nice picture and often recommend abortion to parents at a time when they are feeling vulnerable and fearful of the unknown.  Doctors are supposed to be in the business of protecting life, correct?  Why would they recommend killing one?

As I reflect on this question I think about the Holy Innocents.  Herod was supposed to be a protector as well.  Yet out of fear, he killed many children, known to us now as the Holy Innocents, the first martyrs for Christ.  Today’s doctors are not much different than Herod was in Jesus’ time.

Fortunately there are many groups and individuals advocating for life for these children.  There are studies being done showing the positive side of DS.  And, most importantly, there are children with DS who are living proof that a DS diagnosis is not to be feared.

That child that was killed today may still be able to have a positive impact on someone.  With many prayers and support her mother will hopefully realize what she did, and will one day be able to share her story and her regret with others and thus save the life of another child.  And her child, now in heaven with the other Innocents, can intercede with Our Heavenly Father for those contemplating ending the life of their child.

We pray, dear Lord, for an end to abortion in all circumstances.  We also pray for all the mothers and fathers who must live with the regret of abortion.  And, Lord, we also pray for the misguided doctors, may they come to see the beauty and dignity of all human life and work to preserve it and care for it at all stages. Holy Innocents, please pray for us.

Resources:
Statistics and Studies
Down Syndrome: Facts, Stats, Concern for Eugenics: http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/1301/26/
Life with Down Syndrome overwhelmingly happy, says US study: http://www.bioedge.org/index.php/bioethics/bioethics_article/9773 (includes links to study itself)
Parents of Down Syndrome children divorce less: study: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=6087
Expose Planned Parenthood, statistics: http://exposeplannedparenthood.net/planned-parenthood-facts/

Advocacy, Blogs, and Testimonies:
The Diseased Culture of Death: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kondrich/110313
International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life: http://www.idscforlife.org/
KIDS: Keep Infants with Down Syndrome: http://keepinfantswithdownsyndrome.blogspot.com/
Stop Aborting Down Syndrome Individuals Now: http://sadsin.blogspot.com/
Cause of our Joy: http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com (includes links to many other blogs and advocacy and support groups)