Beautiful Work

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands…. Psalm 90:17a

Remembering… June 10, 2009

Filed under: Mothering,who we are — Gretchen @ 7:32 am

This month marks a strange anniversary of sorts for me.  It was 2 years ago this month that I was sitting in a chair looking at my unborn baby in 4D.  She was precious!  We had previously found out that our baby had several “markers” for down syndrome and had enlarged kidneys which may have required surgery upon birth.  Thus we were monitored more carefully and had a ton more ultrasound shots at a hospital.  This was the first level 3 ultrasound with this pregnancy (I had had one with my 3rd with no problems).  I got to gaze upon my baby for almost a full hour – it was wonderful!  I was there alone as my husband was out of town.  The specialist doctor called me in after the ultrasound to go over the findings.  The first words out of his mouth to me were “Well you will have to come in tomorrow for your abortion because of how far along you are.”  I was utterly shocked and devastated.  All I could do was mutter “What??????”  He then proceeded to tell me that my baby had more “markers” for down syndrome and it didn’t look good.  I was more shocked that his automatic assumption was that I would abort my baby.  I almost couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me in that office.  All I wanted to do was run as far away from that man as possible.

As soon as I was able to speak again I called my doctor.  He was able to calm me down and after talking to him I decided against the amnio to find out for sure and thus my pregnancy went on not knowing whether or not I was going to have a baby with down syndrome.  For me at that point the risk of miscarriage outweighed the need to know.  What I did do was to research as much as possible about down syndrome to prepare.  What I found out is what I want to remember and never forget.  I do not know what the implications of this knowledge will be for my life but I am confident that this ordeal was not an accident.  I found that over 90% of babies that are diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted.  Those words the doctor spoke to me were for a reason and out of his experience.  This has chilled me to the bone.  Another fact I found was that even if your baby is diagnosed with down syndrome there is no way to tell what function level the child will be at.  Some children with down syndrome go on to graduate from high school and lead independent lives.  Others will require continual care.  The point is that they can not tell you what the function level of the child will be.  Having a special needs child is hard.  It is life changing.  It alters the family in ways that are not predictable.  But who are we to judge who lives and dies?

Our fourth daughter was born in August with no physical problems.  Her kidneys were fine and she did not have down syndrome.  What my heart went through in the months of not knowing I hope and pray will never leave me.

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62 Responses to “Remembering…”

  1. brian Says:

    Wow. thanks for this story. It is amazing how so many are just willing to kill a child because it might be different. Thanks again.

  2. Sean John Says:

    Praise God. Thanks for sharing! Hope your kids are doing well :)

  3. Mike Poddo Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, it rings close to home for us, as my wife and I had a similar experience. We were assigned “genetic counselors” to give our “options”. That meeting lasted 15 seconds.

    We also avoided the amnio, and spent more time on how we would address his heart defect than worrying about what we would do (or couldn’t do) with a child with DS.

    However our story branches at the time of birth, we were blessed differently…our son does have Downs. I wrote a blog entry very similar to yours back in October if you are interested:
    http://wretchedsinner.blogspot.com/2008/10/meet-super-george-1-in-4000-or-1-in.html

    Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Adam Faughn Says:

    When we were asked about abortion, he told the nurse, “It’s not an option.”

    We were so moved when she smiled, looked at my wife and said, “Good. That’s what I like to hear!”

    Thanks for bringing back that wonderful memory through your own memories via this post.

  5. Becky Says:

    I had a similiar experience 12 years ago with my son. Thank God that He gave you all you needed during those months before your daughter’s birth. Those statistics are shocking. I’m so glad you made us aware of them. May God hold forever in your heart the precious things He taught you during those months and may He continue to watch over your heart as He’s using your story to touch many others.

  6. Renee Teate Says:

    Oh my! So this baby that you were told would have Down Syndrom did not. And the man who assumed you would want to abort this baby,,,did you ever get to tell him or introduce him to your healthy normal baby?

    This story is going to stick with me for a while. Thank you for posting and thank You God that I got to read it.

  7. ardaemrys Says:

    That is truly chilling. I worked at a crisis pregnancy center and have special needs sibs myself… and… that is just sickening awful.

    Thank you for not even thinking about aborting your baby. I hope that God uses your experience to touch the lives of others.

  8. Emily Says:

    These are powerful words. How easily our nature throws away human life, simply because it is inconvenient or diminishes the value of another life based on its ability to function on a “normal” level. People with Down’s syndome have often been the ones who encourage me the most. I wish more people would see the value of persons with disabilities.

  9. Zach Nielsen Says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. Very moving.

    z

  10. brotherhank Says:

    Thank you for this testimony of Life, sister. In the words of Gilbert Meilaender, “The doctor is a care giver, but not, we must remind ourselves, a savior…They are lordly and awesome in their technical prowess, but they are not the Lord whom death could not hold.” Our hope is in a greater diagnosis of our sin-filled lives, and it comes from the Great Physician himself, who took on flesh to bring us the cure. Praise the Lord.

    He is Lord of the Womb!
    ‘Brother Hank

  11. Jane Says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your heart about this. That breaks my heart to hear those statistics! Does that not make a person long so much more for heaven?
    You have such beautiful children, and I am blessed to read your snippets here about motherhood and living a life that honors God. What an encouragement you are!
    Jane
    Alltogetherbeautiful.blogspot.com

  12. Ryan Says:

    We had almost the exact same experience when my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, though the Down Syndrome marker was a gastrointestinal issue that required surgery shortly after she was born.

    We too found that the 1 in 3 chance that the G/I issue meant Down’s was enough to push the doctors to assume we would just abort.

    We too eschewed the amniocentesis test that would have given us certainty as to whether our baby would have Down’s or not, because we knew that the risk of spontaneous labor that is present in the amnio procedure was a certain death sentence for our daughter.

    And while she did in fact require surgery 5 days after she was born, and she was born 2 months premature, and spent a month in the NICU before she came home with us, Molly just had her third birthday, and other than a two-inch, nearly invisible scar on her abdomen, she is a perfectly normal child with absolutely no health problems or developmental challenges. Bless you for doing the right thing by your baby, and for speaking out in order to reduce the unconscionable rate at which Down’s babies are aborted.

    Anyone reading this who is in a similar situation, know this: indicators are NOT the same thing as proof, and even if they were, the joy and love that a Down’s baby can bring to a family is a unique gift. While it may not be what you envisioned for your child, name me one vision you have that, if unfulfilled, would drive you to kill your child.

  13. Christy Keyton Says:

    Our eighth child was born with Down Syndrome. Her name is Hannah Grace, because she is a perfect picture of God’s grace. My greatest fear as a woman who wanted many children was that one would be born with DS. And, you are right, having a special needs child IS hard. It IS life changing. It DOES alter the family in ways that are not predictable. But what you cannot know, unless you have a special needs child, is that it is also a GIFT. We are altered for the better. We are forever changed because of what we have seen God do in Hannah Grace’s life and in our character. My trust in Him is so very much more. I am a different person and would never want to go back and change anything about the little angel that came into our home.

  14. not2bright Says:

    I know of a similar situation that happened 20 years ago. Following an amniocentesis, a friend was told that her unborn child had anencephaly (skull with shrunken, or no brain) and would most certainly die at birth. The doctors urged her to abort. She and her husband, who is also a medical doctor, refused, knowing that their gracious Lord was the Creator of that life and would strengthen them to go through with the pregnancy and say goodbye to their little one when He chose.

    Today, that child is a completely normal college student! My friend delivered a healthy child on that day two decades ago.

    Was there a miracle? Were the tests wrong? We may never know, but this we do know. We have no right to play God and decide which child lives and which child dies. All children have value by virtue of the miracle of conception!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for your post. I can’t imagine the roller coaster of emotions you felt that day from seeing your daughter to hearing those awful words from the specialist.

    My brother-in-law and his wife have a Down syndrome baby and we love her. He and his wife did not know of her condition until she was born, but I know they love her because she, too, was created in God’s image.

  16. I’ve seen that statistic before. It’s heart-breaking.

  17. I literally got chills when I read your story.

    How blessed you have been by your obedience – and sweet Father, please banish the slaughter of our innnocents for reasons even less than these!!

  18. Ken Schlorf Says:

    Great story! Great outcome! DS is not a death sentence for either the parents or the child. It is so ridiculous that doctors/nurses/hospitals have the default to abort, but as you stated, they go by their experience. Thanks for posting your story!

  19. JulieBeth Says:

    I am so thankful that there were fewer tests available when I was pregnant with my first, and for the other four I refused all tests. I knew that God would not give me more than I could handle and I would not treat a pregnancy differently for a handicapped child than one who was not. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it opens many eyes.

  20. Debby Says:

    Wow, Gretchen. I’m writing this with tears and chill bumps. How unbelievable that a doctor would take it for granted that you would want to kill your child. Your precious girl; precious whether she’d had downs or not.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  21. I first read those incredibly-heartbreaking statistics about the percentage of possible-downs babies being aborted in an article in World magazine. It was written by Joni Eareckson Tada and is both inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. Well worth a read: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/13317

    Thank you for sharing your experience here, for others to read and learn from.

  22. Jenn Says:

    What a moving story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  23. meimi132 Says:

    Wowza…. its scary to think that ‘markers’ for DS are enough to get rid of a baby… just markers… no definitive evidence… I think… I think without real evidence how can someone just get rid of it… just fear? *sigh* Well tis a problem I shouldn’t have to face, don’t want children. Much too much fuss n palava. And money…and time… and pain….lol.

  24. wonderful story :)

  25. DiAnna Says:

    Thank You for sharing your story. I was told by 2 doctors that I should have an abortion after learning I was pregnant subsequent to x-rays & pharmacological treatments for pneumonia. They insisted that my baby would be born with a deformed nervous system and “other gross birth defects”. The third doctor I consulted told me that I would miscarry so I didn’t need to worry about an abortion. That was 21 years ago. My son was 9 pounds when he was born… healthy & beautiful, not a single defect. I understand the pain and uncertainty you went through. What’s more I understand your joy in holding your precious baby for the first time…

  26. jeremiah37 Says:

    In a country where everything is instant. It is a blessing to here someone share something so powerful and thought provoking. All children; special needs, or your beautiful baby girl challenges our ability to think outside of ourselves. Each causes us to grow a little more. At the end of the day all you have is your personal peace that comes from the life that you lived. May each child continue to grow you and add flavor to your life.

  27. Thank you for your courage and your strength. Your story has touched me in a truly profound way. You are a real inspiration. Thank you for sticking by your baby no matter what and not ever giving up. Just know that your story is amazing and it really touched me. I recently found out that my wife is pregnant with our first child. It is amazing just how much I already love my baby. I can’t imagine how you must have felt. I can only hope to show my baby the kind of love and dedication that you have shown.

  28. rsasecular Says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. It is simply disgusting how we treat those who are different in our society. The attitudes that lead to aborting fetuses are the same attitudes that prevail toward the disabled in our culture. For instance, many physically and mentally ill college students are told to “go home until you can get well,” when these same people can get by on a reduced load with accommodations from their schools. People want to force people into mere “normalcy”. I admire your courage in choosing to have your child, and I am glad that your kid turned out to be a healthy baby. She is lucky to have a Mom like you!

  29. Alex Green Says:

    The Greatest / most tragic thing about this story is what is not known publicly – that Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21) is not the thing that actually causes any intellectual impairment. It’s the lack of oxygen to the brain, which can be treated!
    http://www.cranial.org.uk/res/handoll/downs/index.htm

  30. Nay. Says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Just over 2 years ago, our family faced a similar situation. We can now say that we were blessed to have doctors who never pushed us either way. Our baby girl not only had markers for Downs but also had a malformation of the heart. Our doctors encouraged us to see as many specialists as possible in order to determine wether or not our baby would make it to term. Unfortunately, our baby did not make it and I was forced to deliver at 20 weeks.
    We are grateful to our doctors who never saw her little life as meaningless or even saw her as a ‘fetus’ but rather treated her like our daughter and did all they could to save her. I just wanted to say that not all doctors/specialists make assumptions and there are some out there who see all forms of life as being blessings and will do what they can and what they’ve been trained to do to save them.

  31. Woz Says:

    My wife’s little sister was diagnosed with Down Syndrome while still in the womb, and the doctor had also recommended an abortion. Well, she was born a healthy baby, grew into a healthy young woman, and is now on her way to completing a degree in college! Imagine all the stories that could be told had the other 90% decided to put the care of the child in God’s hands?

  32. Tanya Says:

    Wow, these are all amazing stories, I think what to many doctors forget, is each child in or out of the womb is a preious gift from God. No matter what disabilites our children have, God has a plan for them and who are we to take that away….
    God bless you all.

  33. buddz Says:

    thanks for sharing your story. I had a similar case in my family recently where the baby was also assumed to have down syndrome which turned out to be false.

  34. cynlyn101 Says:

    I have 2 daughters…as babies, they were as healthy as can be. As adults they both have emotional problems. I love to remember when they were happy and full of love. Nothing can prepare you for a good start and a bad ending….

  35. djeendoo Says:

    *thumbs up*

  36. TUC Says:

    What is really sad about this is that many women abort because of what the doctors tell them. It is a hard diagnosis to hear. When delivered with the assumption of abortion, or with only negative information, many women never get beyond their fear and grief.

    Thankfully we did, and now we have a beautiful daughter with ds who lights up our days.

  37. A. Douglas Says:

    Your story is mine. I had a high AFP level that led to a level 3 ultrasound. A “prenatal counselor” assuming that I would want an amnio immediately so that we could plan to abort if Down’s was confirmed. My husband and I knew that this child was of God, regardless of her ‘condition’ in the world’s sight. We chose no amnio and to walk by faith. This child was chosen for and given to us by God. She was born 15 years ago, 2 weeks late, a perfectly healthy daughter named Faith.

  38. Jacob Says:

    Wow that is heart-wrenching. When I read that over 90% of babies diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted that horrified me. Wow. We are basically doing the same thing that the Nazis did to special needs people before and during WWII. That is chilling.

  39. scottdollar Says:

    thanks for sharing. I have heard of others expereincing the same thing. In your study did you come across a percentage of those that did not have an abortion that ended up not having down syndrome.

  40. Rhonda Says:

    My husband and I had a similar experience as well fourteen years ago. We also went through “genetic counseling” but chose not to go ahead with the amnio. Our daughter is fourteen now, born perfectly healthy and is such a joy! Wish more people knew the AFP is only a screen!!!

  41. I had no idea the statistics were so high for abortions after hearing those type of test results. I know seeing people’s responses to your post would have definitely helped me when we were going through a similar experience. Hopefully they will help others in the midst of making the same kind of decision.

    Our daughter had only one marker but also had high AFP levels suggesting Downs or some other abnormality. Our high risk OB doctors pushed and pushed and pushed for us to get an anmio for the rest of my pregnancy. However, after two second trimester losses due to my water breaking early I wasn’t about to stick a needle through what could be an unstable sac only because we were curious. Afterall we were going to love this baby no matter what.

    Plus they usually do the amnio around 11-14 weeks. After seeing how perfect the babies I delievered at 16 and 18 weeks were there is no way on the planet I could even dream of aborting something that beautiful.

    Our daughter was born with absolutely no health issues. Even for being 5 weeks early due to growth problems, she was breathing on her own and everything. I’ve never been more happy with the decision we made not to let the doctors dictate our lives.

  42. Bill Smith Says:

    indeed very moving

  43. My sister-in-law was told her baby was going to have down’s as well. They were wrong and she is a healthy 10 year old today. Although we would not abort a baby even if it DID have down’s, it shows just how flawed human thinking can be.

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

  44. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  45. dawn Says:

    Wow, thankyou for sharing this. Back in 2000 we also took the test for our baby girl, she also had the markers for down syndrome. We were also given the choice to abort, but our Dr. was not as calculated. Never the less, it was not an option for us either. It was a scary time for us and it was a test for us not to live to anxiously but to trust the Lord for our child’s life no matter what. She was born completely normal !!

  46. Kris Says:

    Oh. My.

    This was our experience exactly.

    Aside from the ultrasounds, I’d refused all other screening simply because we shared your logic – since we already knew we’d never abort, and since there were no treatments available for any of the problems the screenings were designed to find, what was the point?

    I can remember living through months of uncertainty. And I remember the ever-so-slightly patronizing sympathetic looks of the various doctors as we emphatically rejected all suggestions of abortion.

    But most importantly, I’ll never forget going to yet another specialist for that final ultrasound. All the measurements were still the same – still indicative of Down. I vividly recall driving home alone from that appointment (my husband, too, was out of town for work on that day). I was so worried…and crying out to God to somehow intervene…

    I remember the very moment, at the very stoplight right outside the medical center, that God’s very own peace that defies all understanding suddenly came and flooded my entire car. I was crying as I drove, feeling very afraid and alone. But then, as I waited for the red light to turn green, it suddenly hit me that I wanted to choose being yielded to God, fully yielded. So I said so out loud. I told God that I was yielded to whatever. Whatever – WHOMEVER – He chose to bring into our lives, we would accept and love and nurture. And it’d be OK.

    Yes, I was still afraid after that. I’d still sometimes find myself wondering about our abilities to deal with a disabled child, and what we’d do. And I still prayed for God’s intervention. But I was at peace from that time on.

    Fast forward a few months, when our daughter was born. Our OB/GYN had specifically requested that a pediatric specialist be in the delivery room because of my concerns. It had been a LONG labor, with some additional moments of crisis. But through it all, I can so clearly remember lying in the bed, praying, and praising God for what He was doing.

    When our daughter came into the world, she was immediately handed off to the specialist. As I listened to her cries, I also heard the specialist…chuckle!…as he said, emphatically, “There’s NOTHING wrong with THIS kid!” Later, when they did an ultrasound on our baby’s kidneys, they again found nothing. She was completely normal.

    Your post has brought back all those memories, as well as the horrific question of how many children have been destroyed due to such unreliable testing.

  47. Ed Says:

    This is an inspiring, amazing, frightening, bueatiful post.
    Thanks,

    Ed

  48. Thanks for sharing this story. I wrote on my blog recently about the dangers of prenatal genetic testing based on our experiences with our 5th grandchild. Praise God for your steadfast faith and actions and for your precious child. Every blessing, Trevor

  49. Rachael Starke Says:

    Thank you for your story. What might God do in the next twenty and thirty years in and through the lives of these “survivors”? What accomplishments in this world and God’s Kingdom might He providentially enable them to achieve, so that the world might see what it might otherwise have lost?

    Most importantly, may any women who read your story who did make that choice, and who are haunted by it, know the mercy and grace of a God who watched His own Son be ignorantly put to to death, all to achieve their forgiveness.

  50. Mom Says:

    Gretchen is my daughter and her story and her walk with the Lord are a blessing! God has blessed her with discernment beyond her years. I am truly grateful for her and my granddaughters. Isaiah 55:8 is so true in this situation and many others. I love you Gretchen and Francesca

  51. dirkt Says:

    My third child also had markers for Down’s. Although we would never have aborted the child we chose to have an amnio to verify the possibility. Unfortunately we were among that very small percentage of cases where the placenta was nicked during the amnio, it then separated from the uterine wall and our child died.

    Tests then showed that the child did not have Down’s.

  52. @dirkt … so sorry to hear about your loss :(

  53. Andie Says:

    Dirk,
    That is heartbreaking. I know you miss that little one. Thank you for sharing.

  54. Ann Says:

    My older brother has down syndrome and I know two other precious little girls with it. They are the sweetest, most beautiful people you will ever know. It is heartbreaking the numbers of babies suspected to have down syndrome that are aborted. My life would not be the same without them. They have made it so much better!

  55. Anna Dyck Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. My husband and I adopted a baby with DS about a year ago – best thing we have ever done! She has been an absolute joy and blessing to our family despite all the medical issues we have gone through with her. We decided to adopt DS for the reason of the 90% termination rate in hopes that we could be an alternative for a birth mother contemplating this decision. It just boggles my mind that Doctors can try and influence expectant parents this way. I just can’t even bear the thought of our daughter not being here. Thankfully her birth parents did not find out prenatally. It is deplorable that doctors can pressure and suggest such a thing in this day in age.

  56. Jacqueline Says:

    I had much the same thing happen to me with my fourth. The doctor told me that there were markers indicating down syndrome and encouraged me to abort. I told him this child was a gift from God, no matter what. I now have a beautiful, healthy, perfectly normal 3 year old.

  57. Thanks for sharing your story but even more, thank you for your steadfast faith and trust in God regardless of the outcome.

  58. cathy Says:

    what a fabulous story. praise God there are people who still believe in life, no matter what.

    i aborted my first child in 1973 and spent many years in pain, shame, denial and all that goes w/post abortion stress. but, thank the LORD, He has healed and restored me, and now i am able to help other post-abortive woman.

    thank you for sharing.
    cathy

  59. ellie Says:

    oh my goodness, I linked to your website from a series of linkings . . . .anyway I wanted to say that I have 2 (or 3 depending on if you consider ADHD) out of my 4 who are special needs children (neurological condition and heart condition) and I cannot even imagine that they might have been aborted had their needs been known! Thank you so much for sharing your story :)

  60. beethovenqueen Says:

    I have a friend who has a son with Downs. I really liked watching her other boys interact with him as he grew up. Downs kids give us things we can never imagine. In a way, they help us see the world differently because they are different. I’ve heard they like a lot of physical contact and that’s the case with my friend’s son. A hugger, so sweet and so innocent.

    Congrats to you for keeping your daughter. I’m pro-choice but respect those who have their priorities straight, which you obviously do.

  61. cathy Says:

    dear remembering & anyone else,
    coming from someone who has been through the pain of abortion, i can tell you that it is NOT the easy answer. i was 18 in 1973, a senior in hi school and so , what other “choice” did i have? how i wish i had had a crises pregnancy center to go to and get some counciling. my life may have been very different. so, i had the abortion only to find out in the near future that it was not the answer to my problem. then, the agony of what i had done set in and for the next 20 yrs. i suffered from post-abortion stress, as do thousands of woman who have had abortions. it is not the easy answer that we are told it is. just because it is “legal” doesn’t make it right. human life is precious in the sight of God, and should be to us. it is not our choice if the unborn lives or dies, only God’s.
    through God’s grace and mercy i have been healed and have had the priviledge to lead others to healing thru God’s grace. and to any out there who are hurting, there is forgiveness and peace from the pain of abortion .

  62. Claudia Zamora Says:

    It is such a blessing to hear miracles stories like this. My mother went through the same situation 12 years ago, she was 45 years old.
    Doctors told her she had great probability of the baby having Down Syndrome, due to the blood work and ultrasound markers. Doctors insisted through the whole pregnancy that the best thing to do for a women her age was to abort. My mother is a women of great faith. She declined any further testing. She put her self into God’s hands and continued with the pregnancy.
    My little sister was born Nov. 1997 a healthy 7lb baby.

    Now I am going through the same thing. At my 20 week level II ultrasound, I was told that my baby has an absent nasal bone. Which is a strong marker for Down Syndrome. No other markers were found. We declined any further testing. As we truly believe that God has a plan. I will be very honest, it has been very hard. I cry a lot. I am scared. My mom’s words and unconditional love has helped me tremendously. Sometimes I feel calm, and ready to received what the Lord has chosen for me, other times I feel so sad. But deep in my heart I know everything will be okay. The lord will give us the strength. I am 37 weeks pregnant, a few more weeks before my c-section. May the lord give peace to all the women who are going through the same situations.


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