“Did you know I almost missed this?
The joy, the laughs, the smiles, the fierce love — I almost missed it.
The day I heard the words ‘Down syndrome’, fear took over my body. I thought of all the things he wouldn’t be able to do. I grieved the life I had planned. I sobbed because – what did I do to deserve this? I shook, curled up in the cold bathroom floor, as I realized that my life would never again be the same.
I didn’t want this.
On April 5, 2018, I felt all the same things that you, the mama who has just received a prenatal diagnosis, are feeling right now as wring your hands and wonder what to do. I was scared. I was angry. I felt cheated. I didn’t want this life. I didn’t want to be ‘chosen’ for this. I didn’t want to hear anyone else tell me that ‘these special babies are given to the most special parents’.
I sat, with tear-filled eyes, across from each person on my medical team as they told me they were so sorry. I took diligent notes as they explained my options, emphasizing the fact that if I’d like to terminate my pregnancy, I only had about two more weeks to do so. Numb, I sat across from them as they told me they weren’t sure Sawyer would make it to the end of my pregnancy with a beating heart.
I’ll never forget the way my heart dropped when someone at that table said, ‘I’m not pro-termination. But in complex situations like these, sometimes it is appropriate.’ And with heartbreaking honesty that rips my insides apart now, I’ll tell you that I went home and googled explanations of abortion procedures.
A Christian woman who walks daily with the Lord, who loves Him with all of her heart — I googled it. I thought about it. My mind was tormented by it. I called the genetic counselor back to talk about it. My tears soaked through my bedsheets as I thought about not giving my baby life.
I was in the position I swore to myself I’d never be in. I was in the position that you swore you’d never be in either. Yet, there I was. And here you are.
Fear is a powerful motivator. It can cause you to think about things you were sure you never would. It can grip your heart from all sides, convincing you that the ‘humane’ thing to do is to spare your baby with Down syndrome from all the ‘pain’ it will endure.
Except — fear is wrong.
Fear doesn’t talk about the joy that will fill your soul the first time you hold your baby. It doesn’t tell you about the way your smile will spread across your face when you hear him laugh for the first time. It conveniently leaves out the part about the way you’ll burst with pride when she walks confidently and independently into her kindergarten classroom for the first time. It doesn’t tell you that your shirt will be soaked with happy tears as they crown him prom king. Fear doesn’t tell you the truth – that your baby deserves life.
Fear won’t tell you that. But I will.
Maybe you’re smack dab in the middle of the worst day of your life right now, as you walk out of the office of the maternal fetal specialist who handed you a diagnosis. Maybe you’ve had a few days to process and are torn as you try to make a decision. Heck, maybe you’ve googled too and are on your way to a clinic to end it all. Feel all the feelings. They are real. They are valid. They are raw.
But sweet friend – hear me. I don’t want you to miss this. I don’t want you to miss the way this child will change everything about you for the better. I don’t want you to miss the fierce and powerful love that this child will deposit into your heart. I don’t want you to miss the moment when all the fears in your mind melt away as they place that precious precious baby on your chest for the first time.
Today, it doesn’t feel like it will ever be okay again, but man, it will be so much better than okay. You don’t know it yet, but you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ve been handed a ticket to bear witness to a beautiful life, filled with the purest joy, all in the name of an extra chromosome.
And that’s what the doctor may not have told you. For the sake of avoiding bias, for the sake of not influencing your decision, maybe they didn’t tell you these things. But hear this from someone who has actually walked this path – who is actually alongside you on this journey – darling, what a blessing you’re about to receive in this child. You can do this. You were made for this. This is God’s child, made in His image.
You’ll find that the fears you had on this day become a distant memory when she arrives.
You’ll find that your greatest joy in life is watching him grow and learn, proving every stereotype wrong.
You’ll find that you needed this child more than they needed you. They will change you from the inside out like nothing else ever could. And you’ll be better for it. Your heart will grow bigger, your compassion stronger, your love more fierce.
And someday soon, with a full heart, you’ll look back and say, ‘Man. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this.’
This isn’t about the fiery abortion debate that is going around our country, even though I know the emotionally charged subject has been all over social media lately. This is about infusing hope into the mom whose world has just been rocked the same way mine was. I’ve been there. I’ve walked this road. At the end of all this, there is radiant light.
As I walked through my week of torment last April, I ultimately knew two things:
First, no matter what — no matter if his heartbeat until the end of my pregnancy or not, I would deliver my baby. I would honor him by laboring for him. My personal conviction is that it isn’t up to me to decide who lives and who dies on this earth. If the Lord gave Sawyer life outside my womb, we would celebrate every moment we were given with him. And if he didn’t, we would grieve and celebrate every moment that he was alive inside of me, knowing that we gave him every single chance that we possibly could.
Second, my heart is for every baby to have life, no matter the diagnosis, no matter the odds, no matter the predictions because I believe that all human life matters. God knit my baby together in the womb and his life had a purpose from the moment it was conceived. I promised to carry him for however long the Lord would allow. But I want to acknowledge that there are women reading this who have walked through absolutely heart wrenching situations and made a different decision. Those situations are delicate, often emotionally charged and full of a lifetime of processing. If that’s you – if you’re that woman – know that there is a seat for you at my table and that this is a space where you are loved and met with compassion.
But I wouldn’t be doing my son’s life justice if I didn’t tell you that miracles are still among us – my Sawyer was never guaranteed to make it earth side, yet here he is, the best part of our family. Abundant life. Joyful existence. My greatest fear turned into my greatest blessing. Ashes to beauty, mourning to dancing.
Thank you, Jesus.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Nicole Shelor, 29, of Virginia. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Visit her blog here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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