What about Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, or other terminal diagnoses?

Although this blog speaks mostly to Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, I do have a lot of empathy for parents who receive a diagnosis of Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, or other terminal conditions.

When we first received Matthew’s diagnosis, the severity of his heart defects gave him a “Zero-percent chance of survival.”  I will never forget the weight with which those words hit me, nor the feelings of absolute devastation and hopelessness that followed.  Is there any worse news in the world than, “Your child is surely going to die?”  I don’t think so.

Parents now have some tough choices to make when they receive a prenatal diagnosis like this.  And, they have to make these choices when they are more emotionally distraught than they have ever been.  I know first-hand how tempting it sounds to just “end it all,” to move on with your life and forget about the whole nightmare.

When we were facing the certain death of our second-born son, we found this video to be encouraging.  Aaron and I watched it together, and afterwards he looked at me, wiping away his tears, and said, “That’s us.  That’s exactly how I feel about Matthew.  We are just going to love him, treasure him, and celebrate him for however long we have with him.”

If you haven’t seen “99 Balloons,” please take the time to watch it:

One of my favorite quotes from this video is when Eliot’s dad says,

An underdeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it, and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of your body could not stop God from revealing Himself through a child who never uttered a word.”

I can honestly say that, even if Matthew had only lived a short time . . . even if was just a few hours like the doctors originally predicted . . . He still would have been worth it.  It would have been worth the long months of pregnancy, the heartache, the tears, and all the worry.  There is nothing like being able to see your baby’s sweet face, hold him in your arms, and tell him you love him.  And, you never know how that baby will touch and change you.

I read a comment on another blog recently by a mother who had just received a prenatal diagnosis of Trisomy 18, and said she was facing some “tough choices.”  My heart just breaks for babies who are aborted due to prenatal diagnosis, and their parents.  My mom and dad desperately wanted to contact this mother to tell her, “If you don’t think you can handle caring for him, we will take him and care for him.  Just, please don’t abort him.”

I strongly believe that every life is worth living, and every baby deserves a chance.  You never know how that tiny little  life will change yours.  It should really be up to God, not us, when and how a life ends.  And, if you don’t think you can handle a terminal diagnosis or a dying baby, my loving parents have offered their hearts and their home.  Please know that, no matter what, our prayers are with you.

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