Let's be honest, really no one gets pregnant and says "Let's have a child with Down Syndrome who has lots of complications." The fear and the unknown is completely overwhelming. And if I am being really honest even at 20 weeks when we got the news that there may be a possibility of having a child with Down Syndrome I was pretty freaked out. It was a completely unknown territory to me. I had no clue what to expect.
My mind was fogged with Down Syndrome and I could not see through it to understand that each child is scary and there is a huge unknown. Just because our baby may or may not have Down Syndrome really did not change that each child is scary and no one knows what to expect; even if it is your fifth child. No child comes with instructions or a how to guide. There is not one child that is guaranteed anything (none of us are!). There is not one child that we will ever know the future with.
However, I feel in a lot of cases that society kind of told me what to expect with Lydia before she even entered this world. If I read on the Internet I was told she would never do this and would not be able to do that. I was told that she would be a drain to our entire family. In support groups I was told I was lucky because she would always be happy. In support groups I was told she was a blessing, but if I was out in society I was told to get an abortion.
Why was it so different with Lydia than the other girls? Is the diagnosis of Down Syndrome that horrible? Is there a life sentence that comes with it? What is the deal that so many people who have never taken the time to get to know some one with Down Syndrome are so quick to judge; while the community that lives, eats and breathes Down Syndrome is so happy and feels blessed?
Conflict. And if I am being perfectly honest with myself, most days I believed society. I convinced myself in my mind that I did not want what Down Syndrome had attached to it. I convinced myself of so many of the negative things. Although I knew that I would not change this child in anyway, the hype and negatives that come with this diagnosis was scaring me. But God is good and surrounded us with a lot of great people who encouraged us. I just had a very hard time getting society's horrible view out of my mind. At times the fog was filled with negative views and I did not know what way to run.
Facing our fears and going boldly entering into the unknown is hard. But don't we do that with each child? We are not promised a healthy child, a boy, a girl, a smart child, an athletic child. We also don't know what the future holds. So why does society seem to think they know what the future holds for a child with Down Syndrome? Yes, there are some things that are more likely, there are greater health risks, there may be some delays. But have you heard there are folks who carry an extra Chromosome who are running their own restaurant, who are public speakers, who live independently, who are married, who are a mayor, who are making impacts on communities? They are more alike than different.
So what is the lesson I have learned? To face our fears. To not let what other people think overtake us and miss out on a blessing. She is a human life, she has been created by God (the same God who created me) for a specific purpose. Her life has meaning, her life has value. And no one can predict her future, no one can tell me who she is and what my life will be like. She is no different than her other sisters. We will just have to live life and let that unfold. No one can tell me the "level" of Down Syndrome she has, that she will be happy all of the time, that she will be a drain on our family. No one can tell me that Ellen is going to be a famous writer one day or Allison will be on the US Olympic team for gymnastics. She is no different.
I will not let fears dictate what we do. I will try not to let society's view get the best of me. Lydia has taught me how to face my fears head on and reap in blessing after blessing of doing so. Some of those blessings may take awhile to get, but victory in facing the fear is life changing.