We value life. And I will always boldly say that. We believe that God is the giver of each and every life and because of that, life is to be respected and appreciated. This is an ongoing topic in society, politics, even churches, but it recently became something we had to stand behind like we never before have.
When given Gabriel’s diagnosis of Trisomy 18 we were given the option of terminating the pregnancy. Or as they say to make it sound better, saying goodbye early. It means the same thing. And we never gave it a thought. We had wanted this child, God had given Gabriel life, and we were going to enjoy whatever time we had with him.
Today I was reading an article that was reviewing some research papers about Trisomy 18 and 13, and I was shocked by something I read. During the period between 2003-2007, 90% of babies with Trisomy 18 were diagnosed prenatally. Not surprisingly, as prenatal screenings have made for the early diagnosis of many conditions. What did surprise me was the statistic that of those babies diagnosed prenatally, 86% of the families decided to terminate the pregnancy. 86%. My mind cannot even comprehend this. So many babies whose time was cut short. I understand some of the reasonings behind terminating. I get that it’s hard. I get that every where I go, someone asks me a question that reminds me of what I won’t have. I get that it’s hard to explain to people. I get that it’s challenging to not only explain to a little child what is happening to their baby brother but to also teach and show that child how to grieve. I get that pregnancy is physically hard and we don’t get that traditional “it’s all worth it in the end when you’re snuggling your baby at home” that most people get. I get it. But for us, those things are all a part of our life. I won’t forever be a walking reminder of Gabriel, but my heart always will be. And going through all of these things is just part of that journey.
One of the things some people told us when we first got his diagnosis was that we should get it over with and get on with our life. That idea never worked for us. Because Gabriel was never going to be a “something that happened to us that one time”. Ever. He was already our child, Jack’s brother, a member of our family. And you don’t just get over that.
So if I were speaking to someone who had just found out that their baby likely wasn’t going to live, I would tell them this. I would tell them that we have been more blessed by this baby than by anything else. We have learned more during this time and grown more during this time than at any other point in our lives. We know our baby boy. We know his personality, and in many ways, I feel so much more connected to him than I did with Jack when I was pregnant with him. I believe that God has allowed us to connect with him so much more to prepare us for his birth and what lies ahead. I believe that God has opened our eyes and given us, especially me, a very strong awareness of Gabriel’s life and presence in our family. I believe that I will always remember and always have these days to look back on as a very sweet time, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
I can honestly say now, looking back over these past almost 14 weeks, that it has been one of the sweetest times of my life. Hardest, yes. But sweetest, most definitely. And I am so thankful for the gift of Gabriel that God has given us each and every one of these days.