92% and Perfect Babies

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I read a fact the other day on the internet: Eight percent of all babies in the womb who test positive for Down syndrome or a genetic anomaly survive and are born. That means 92% of all babies who test positive are aborted. Ninety two percent never get a chance.

Reading that fact shook me to my core. Why? Because it reminded me of a story I have been told.

In the late 80’s a woman found out she was pregnant on her 40th birthday. She was surprised, but thrilled nonetheless. At sixteen weeks the infant was tested for Down syndrome and the mother was shocked to hear that her baby tested positive. The doctor told her that according to the numbers, it was one of the most severe cases he had ever seen. He said she would need around the clock assistance just to care for her child’s basic needs. He insisted that she seek an immediate abortion. The mother refused, she said “I want to have this baby.” The doctor replied, “No, ma’am, you see I only deliver perfect babies.” The woman looked at him and said “I have five children at home and not one of them is perfect. I am having this baby.”

I think of her situation, and the stress of having a big family and knowing the amount of time, resources and attention that would need to go into raising her youngest, but she stayed resolute.

On September 11th, 1987 she gave birth. The pediatrician in the delivery room picked up the baby, examined it and exclaimed, “What are they talking about? This baby is perfect.” I think of the stress, the fear, the uncertainty that mother endured for those months of her pregnancy and I am so thankful for her decision.

Again, why?

This is the story of my mother and her pregnancy with me. I am so thankful for her courage, her strength and that she wanted me. I am so thankful that she was willing to sacrifice for me, as she has throughout my life. I am happy I have had the chance to live, to go to college, to get married and to be a mother myself, when all of that could have been wiped away in a moment if she had decided to go with the doctor’s dictate and abort me. I am so grateful for my life and, the thing is, I don’t think I would feel any different or any less grateful if I had been born with Down syndrome.

Further, I have heard that story probably a hundred times throughout my life, yet I have never thought of myself as a survivor. The real implications and danger of my situation never really struck me until I read that fact. I feel a sense of grief at my fellow 92% who tested positive and didn’t get the chance to live like I did. I also feel angry and indignant at those who insist, preach even, that no life is better than a difficult one. I wonder, would they feel so strongly if the life in question were their own?

It is humbling to consider that we are all here because someone said “yes” and wanted us to be here. Not just our mothers, but our God. What is going on in our culture is sobering and we need to speak up for those who don’t have anyone to defend them in the womb. Testifying to the Truth in the world and that Jesus Christ is Lord is our mission and I want us to succeed. Christ has revealed Himself to the Apostles and revealed His Power in our lives and we must choose to spread this Good News. Just as the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles power at Pentecost, it will also empower us. After all, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, so who better to help us protect the unborn of today?

Image credit: Cindy’s husband

Cindy Bird

Cindy Bird

Cindy Bird is a young wife and mother who lives in Arizona. She dabbles in writing, cooking and dancing. She spent a year in Italy, where her daughter was born, which was a life changing experience. Although she misses the beauty of Rome she is constantly looking for the Beauty of the Lord in all corners of the world, even in the hot desert of AZ. She also authors a blog for her parish that her pastor asked her to start. She is a proud graduate of the University of Dallas.

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4 Responses

  1. Well, Cindy, were sure glad that you are here to tell us this story. My parents told me that they chose to quit having children after I was born (their second) because they knew someone who had a child who had to wear leg braces and they couldn’t possibly fathom ever having a child with special needs, so they would never have another child. My mom was basically prolife but if she were put under the pressure your mom suffered when she was expecting me, I doubt I would be here typing this.

    I want to pull a less obvious sentence out of your story…”I have five children at home and not one of them is perfect”. Can we please scream this one from the housetops?

    Humans arent perfect…babies are human. My office is on the Maternity hallway…I can hear brand new babies as I sit here…I have heard thousands of new moms begin to interact with their new babies and I very often hear “the baby is perfect, but they are crying, I am SO SORRY baby”. Our shared delusion that babies are perfect and mothers are horribly flawed caused untold misery. Babies are learning to be people while the moms are learning to be moms and they both make mistakes…how about a truce where we accept our flaws and appreciate each other and not because either is “perfect”.

    If you went up to my teenage daughter and asked her what word I hate most she would say “perfect”.

    The more intended message here is also very true..imagine all the wonderful people we never give a chance to because of our inclination to dispose of the imperfect. I care for the families when we expect the disorder to be so severe that the baby will die at birth and even when they are THAT sick, the only way to learn what thier story will be is to let them tell it. I have seen lives lived in 60 or 90 minutes…deep meaningful lives.

  2. Its me again…I went to the highlighted source above and realized something I hope you find hopeful…the quoted statistic was from a 1999 study that reviewed previous studies going back as far as 1980. Perinatal Hospice didnt exist back then…the stats on how many people choose to maintain a pregnancy with a life limiting condition is hard to quantify right now because it is changing so fast, but it has improved.

  3. Cindy Bird. Thanks for your story. It is an amazing one. Your mom is one special person to me. I am proud of all she did to raise 6 beautiful children. I am happy to read your blogs that you write for your parish. We all know that God is good. None of us are perfect but we are here and God is why.
    I look forward to future blogs.
    Peggy Hughes

  4. Cindy, this was such an inspiring post. God bless your mother, and all those who have the courage to give birth, regardless of what testing says about their future children.

    (also, it’s cool to me that you graduated from UD, I’m entering my sophomore year this fall there!!)

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