Anguish of a Down’s baby

21 08 2008

First off, this story has nothing to do with the upcoming arrival of our second baby but I thought that the story was interesting enough to share with you all.

A woman in the UK had a baby which had been screened for Down’s in utero (came back 1 in 35 million chance) but when the baby was born it clearly had Down’s. The anguish and disappointment of the mother was very clear.

I felt nothing but coldness. I couldn’t even hold her or feed her. I told the midwife to get this thing away from me. I was totally distraught… All I could think was I’d been cursed and that I couldn’t imagine coping with a disabled child, let alone what I regarded as the stigma of having one.

They nearly signed foster papers to give her over to Foster care but couldn’t quite do it in their state. This went on for 5 days until the nurses came in with even worse news.

The nurse said my baby was in special care and that doctors only gave her a 20 per cent chance of survival. ‘”Wouldn’t you like to see her before she dies?” she said, and at that moment something inside me clicked – perhaps it was some primeval maternal instinct finally stirring. Suddenly I wanted to see my daughter more than anything in the world.

Her daughter, Grace, survived but the father wouldn’t accept her.

Two weeks later, Loretta brought Grace home. But Grace’s father still could not bring himself to love his disabled daughter. He continued to suggest they should give her up for adoption. But by now Loretta, horrified at the idea, would not hear of it. ‘In the end, he gave me an ultimatum,’ says Loretta. ‘Have Grace adopted and we could try again, or our relationship was over.’

The relationship didn’t make it. She was kicked out of his house, went to live with her mother and now works as much as possible to make it as a single parent.

‘She has given me the strength to cope on my own and to do what I thought was impossible for me – to love a disabled child.’

I like this story because every pregnant person worries so much about what they’ll do if they have a Down’s baby, tests are done to check for it so baby’s can be aborted in utero (sometimes the tests themselves abort a healthy baby!) but even babies with disabilities can be a gigantic source of strength and benefit to an open hearted parent.