One fallout from having a sibling with Down syndrome is the knowledge that “IT” can happen to regular, ordinary people... that it is not only something that occurs only “to others”.
One of Ricki’s siblings is pregnant, and has considered carefully whether to have pre-natal testing done. Over the last several years, we have discussed abortion and Down syndrome many times, and as a single sibling, she said that there was “NO WAY” she could condone giving birth to a child with a disability if she had a choice. However, now that she is married and actually expecting, things look different. That fetus inside is YOURS, and cherished. She and her husband finally decided not to do extra prenatal testing, as they would not abort anyway. Although she is much more “modern” than me, my daughter and her husband realized that they could not bear the idea of aborting a “defective” child, even if there are more modern Rabbis who sometimes allow. They realize that despite the hardships, a child with Down syndrome is a real person.
Last night we sat down and had a long talk about her fears with the pregnancy, not only the specter of a child who is “less than perfect”, but also maternal mortality, fear of labor, etc.
And while I showed her that the risks are really very small, it simply showed me the power of love. Consider it. A woman knowingly puts herself in a situation that is wrought with fear, potentially dangerous, and at best uncomfortable and with the promise of a tough labor at the end. And we moms do it for love. What an amazing thing!