Last September I received an email from a stranger, GiGi. Tears flooded my eyes as I read it:
Yesterday I found out i'm expecting a baby with downs and as I was in between having the "woo is me's" and the "why me's", millions of thoughts ran through my mind, including termination and adoption. until I found Ace's video and I changed my tears of sorrow to tears of joy. Thank you for making me realize my blessing, I only hope my baby is as sweet and happy as Archie. I wanted to say so much in this email, but in the interest of keeping it short & sweet, I just wanted to say thank you. You have no idea how this has changed my life.
As much as GiGi said we had changed her life, she changed mine the moment I read her email. I was humbled, and I was so thankful for her.
I could never pretend to understand the feeling of getting that diagnosis. I have never experienced it, and more than likely never will. People call me and Joey "saints" and "heros" and all sorts of titles we completely do not deserve. To me, GiGi is a hero. As a 38 year old single mother of two teenage girls, I can only imagine how devastating this news was initially. Life changing in more ways than she could have imagined a new baby being. When the baby's father learned about the diagnosis, he fled. Completely. Alone, confused, afraid, and against pressure from doctors, GiGi made the brave decision to give life to this baby.
I don't know what the current statistic is, so I am hesitant to even include any numbers, but according to the always reliable (insert slight sarcasm) Wikipedia, "In the United States a number of studies have examined the abortion rate of fetuses with Down syndrome. Three studies estimated the termination rates at 95%, 98%, and 87% respectively." It is very safe to say that the majority of all mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome do choose to abort. And please do not mistake this post as me judging any mothers out there who do decide to make that choice. Like I said, I could never pretend to know what it feels like to walk in those shoes. Would it be my hope that those statistics would radically changed, and more mothers would be able to experience the joys of raising a child with Down syndrome? ABSOLUTELY. But I would never in a million years pass judgement on a mother who had to make that heart-wrenching decision.
GiGi and I corresponded back and forth throughout her pregnancy. She changed very quickly from a stranger, to a dear friend. Her two daughters, 17 and 13, were thrilled to be adding a baby to the family, and when she told them that their new brother or sister would be born with Down syndrome, it did not even phase them. Clearly, GiGi has done a lot right as a mother.
We emailed back and forth a few times in the last month. I was anxiously awaiting the news of baby's arrival. She chose not to find out if she was having a boy or girl. I couldn't wait to know!
Then on January 30th, I opened my email and found this:
Noah was born 1/28 @ 8:11pm weighing 6lbs 11ounces and standing 18 3/4 inches tall. :) He is the love of my life. Thank you. If it wasn't for you I don't know if I would've been strong enough to be his Mommy. I appreciate you talking me off the ledge. Lol. And making that video with your monkeys. It completely changed my life.
I will never pretend that raising a child with Down syndrome is easy. But the joys are more than worth the struggles. And as long as I can help even just one mother see that, then I will continue to share our journey.
Precious Baby Noah, you are a miracle.
GiGi, I couldn't be happier that you fell into my life and I cannot wait to see sweet Noah grow up and change the world around him. As he most definitely will.