Monday, July 16, 2007

Learning on the job: motherhood edition (updated)

Virginia Arbery"s "Ending Down syndrome pregnancies bears all the marks of a pogrom" (Dallas Morning News, Sunday, July 8, 2007) is a powerful message of love and learning from a mother of a young woman with Down Syndrome. An excerpt:

Julia's life soon began to bring out the excellences of others. She brought our little college community even closer together, a joy to the students and a prize to anyone who held her. Early Intervention trained us to stimulate areas of her brain by waking up facial muscles, working to get her to sit up or to crawl – a task she never mastered, scooting instead with her two hands and bottom.

I would go from teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers, to a large room uptown with five other mothers propping up their floppy babies. Nothing else has ever quite brought home the meaning of "all men are created equal endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

We were all working for that fullest expression of life and happiness for our babies. I thought about the "prudent" mothers who had aborted their own children with Down syndrome. I grieved for those who, exercising their reproductive rights – a new appropriation of the older notion of liberty, which was rooted in duty – would never know the profound satisfaction of raising such a child.

Like many a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, she has found herself targeted and insulted by people who thought she was irresponsible for not having an abortion. After noting the increased push to kill people like her daughter when they are still in the womb, Arbery notes:

Ironically, scientific work on turning off the additional action of the genes that cause cognitive impairment in Trisomy 21 now offers more hope than ever before, especially at Stanford School of Medicine's Center for Research and Treatment for Down Syndrome (dsresearch.stanford .edu). More research dollars are going into killing these children before they are born than into this noble project of helping them. And why? Because citizens value their freedom?

I'm not doing the article justice with the excerpts. Read the whole thing.

Then there's this from another mother (you'll likely want to read the whole post, but here's a taste):

It seems to me that if God called only natural "supermoms" to have large families, there would be like five women in America with more than three kids. Maybe I'm doing some projecting here since I lack pretty much every skill one would want to be a mother to anything other than a Chia Pet, but I've come to believe that when it comes to having kids, nothing is more true than the old saying that "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called."
On a slightly different note, and mostly just for fun: Danielle Bean and her husband have a large family - which means that when she is out and about with her children she is sometimes subjected to strange reactions from other people.

Update: I just have to add My Most Adventurous Moment from At A Hen's Pace. (Which raises a side question - does it amaze you how many current mothers entered motherhood with little to no prior experience with babies? I seem to run into a lot of them lately...)