It's late at night, and I'm ready to call it a day. Your warm, sleep-heavy body is molded into my lap as I sort through photos from our day, your tiny contented sighs muffled by the purring of our sound machine, set as always to rain.
There's so much on my heart that I want to say to you tonight, dearest Lily. Thoughts triggered by discussions on a message board about babies and diagnoses and termination and Down syndrome are swirling around in my head....words like "suffering" and "poor quality of life" just don't fit in with what we know here in Holland.
There's so much here that they're missing, Lily. So much beauty and truth and life, and yet there are so many who will miss coming here because of fear and misconceptions.
I'm convinced that if they spent just one day in our windmill-graced country side and knew the joy we feel living here, those fears would be wiped away.
Yesterday your brothers and sisters were all playing outside while you and I sat on the kitchen floor, discussing apples and learning signs. Your sweet little expressions and comical antics were as always, my morning staples. Ten children and twenty-three years of parenting have taught me that dishes and laundry can wait, when there are miracles happening right before my eyes.
And now tonight as I watch again these moments captured, I am wishing that everyone could spend just two minutes in Holland...
*disclaimer: my floors are clean. promise.
I'm prone to introspection, Lily- it's part of who I am. I usually mull over things said or written that just don't sit right with me for several days, absorbing and processing and analyzing, until I can get my brain around a concept or idea. I want to be slow to judge and quick to forgive...
So it isn't in rash, thoughtless retaliation that I write these words. I do understand the fear and the uncertainty that can come with a diagnosis of Down syndrome. After all, how many people holding that plane ticket to Holland in their hands would rejoice or eagerly anticipate the journey, without ever having walked these tulip-studded paths.
But really when I look back at all my fears from pre-Lily days and analyze them one by one...the "quality of life" I was measuring was not yours but mine. How could I handle a child with special needs...how could I care for a baby with extra needs or medical issues...what will my life be like years down the line when you still require care...
Because when you boil it all down, when rationalizations and motives are sifted and sorted through, what it all comes down to is you are not suffering. Your life is a gift, and I have no right to throw that gift away because of perceived inconveniences or challenges that extra chromosome may or may not present.
And just as with all my children, this journey called parenting has no guarantees. Even if I carefully booked my ticket to Italy or Greece or France, diligently making sure that I arrived safely at my destination....life has its way of changing our travel plans. When it comes to the weightier matters of life and death, I am just as guilty of "passing judgment" if I put myself in the position of determining of who is worthy of it....and who is not.
And isn't that just like any decision we're faced with in life? Do we trust the travel agent, or do we make our own plans? Do we choose to view people through our own perception of what is "normal" or "typical"- or do we embrace all life, including its most fragile form?
I choose you, Lily. I choose life.
So hold your head up high, and never be ashamed of who God made you to be.
You are beautiful, you are a gift, and you are worthy of life.
Loving you always,