A first-time mom in Boston, MA is around 12 weeks along in her pregnancy. I came across her on twitter a few days ago. I do not know her personally but I had to say something about her tweet that caught my attention. Here is a series of our unedited tweet exchange over the past few days.
She said: i should mentioned that AFTER i heard the heartbeat yesterday, she asked if I wanted to test for down's syndrome. Sux if I have to terminate
I said: you don't "have to" terminate just because of the possibility of Down syndrome.
SHetherington said: You'll be missing out on a wonderful child & a wonderful experience.
pazam2u said: please read about how inaccurate the test is. Not reason enough to terminate. People with down syndrome are wonderful.
She said: I'm sure people w/ down syndrome r wonderful & all - I'm just not having a baby if its not going to b at least 'normal'
Shannon at Gabi's World said: you can't predict how your child will turn out wheter they were born with DS or not. Many kids with DS are perfectly 'normal'. please think about if your 'normal' child were to become delayed because of a near drowning at 3 yrs old would you kill it?
She said: there is a difference between environmental factors and biological. I can test for, & therefore prevent, biological issues.
I said: just fyi, there is a long waiting list of parents who would adopt a child with Down syndrome.
She said: too bad there isn't a waiting list of parents who want to adopt 'normal' children that are older & have been abused. THOSE are the ones that need help. Not the ones who shouldn't of been born
She obviously meant to type "shouldn't have been born." Piercing. Hurtful. Cold. It made me sick to my stomach.
I walked over to Matthew, who was playing happily in his ball pool, picked him up and hugged him. He laid his head on my shoulder, happy about snuggling. I hugged him tight and swayed with him as I grit my teeth and fought back tears and the urge to wreak tweet havoc upon this first-time mom in Boston.
"Normal". Going back to her statement: I'm just not having a baby if its not going to b at least 'normal'. So it seems she views people with Down syndrome as not normal and shouldn't have been born at all. What is "normal"?
Prenatal tests cannot detect all forms of birth defects. If an unborn baby has an intellectual impairment, which is not detected in a prenatal test, is the baby not "normal"? Should this baby not be born?
If a baby is born without Down syndrome but develops problems because of prematurity, is the baby not "normal"? Should this baby not have been born?
If a baby is born without Down syndrome but is in an accident or contracts a debilitating illness, causing the baby to experience cognitive delays and/or physical problems, is the baby not "normal"? Should this baby not have been born?
If a baby is born physically healthy but is later on diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), is the baby not "normal"? Should this baby not have been born?
Her comments make me angry. Matthew gets angry too when I feed him food that he doesn't like. Is that normal?
I can laugh off her ignorance and not allow her words to pierce my heart just as Matthew belly laughs in anticipation of getting tickled. Is that normal?
I choose to not let her comments prevent me from reasoning with other similar people, speaking out and advocating for Matthew and other individuals who have Down syndrome. I will go on just as Matthew continues to work on his shape sorter, trying to get the right shape into the right slot, and as he perseveres and continues to learn the other skills we are teaching him. Is that normal?
I will celebrate when I am heard just as Matthew claps his hands in delight when he successfully puts the triangle piece of his shape sorter into the triangle slot. Matthew's determination will propel him towards achieving his goals. Is that normal?