I’ve seen this story come across my Facebook feed for the past couple weeks – how down syndrome in Iceland has almost disappeared. Now this is not a political post, not about whether abortion is right or wrong, but this is about getting to choose your life. My first thought when I read about it and saw a video about a young man saying his life is worth something was how sad. I judged, and I thought what kind of person could place so little value on a life they don’t even know. And then I thought about what I would do and decided I would never do that. And then I thought a little bit more, and then a lot more and realized I can only say that because I know the outcome. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
So ugly truth #2, if God had told me before I got pregnant that if I chose to have a child they would have autism, I would have said no thanks. 100%. I couldn’t have terminated a pregnancy if I knew, but if I had known before conception, the old me would have not wanted to disrupt my life. My perfect life. I would have thought about all the wrong things – what would people think, my life would be harder, how would our family handle it, what would my future look like, and so on. I would have considered all the selfish things I wanted and said no. And I am heartbroken for my son, that that was his mom.
But thank God I didn’t have a choice, that I didn’t know how it would turn out. Because my son is the greatest gift I could have ever received. I tell people all the time that kids are the best/worst thing. The rollercoaster of emotions is unbelievable. You can hate and love them at the same time. And the highs and lows are so much wider when raising a child with special needs. No one but a special needs parent cries when their kid does the most basic thing, because we know it’s not easy for our kids and it took a village to get them there. When they draw a picture for the first time or throw a ball or ride a bike or zip their coat or tie their shoes – everything is a celebration. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, no one but a special needs parent cries when another year passes and milestone after milestone haven’t been reached and the gap between their peers is so wide you can’t see the other side.
I love my son and would not change my life for anything. If God asked me now, said I could travel back in time and choose a different life, I would happily say no thanks. 100%. This life is not easy, it’s not perfect, it’s not everything I hoped for – it’s better. I thank God everyday for my son. Every night I put him to sleep, I tell him how thankful I am for him and how much I love him. And I mean it. He makes this life worthwhile. His smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and when he kisses me unprompted or pats my back when he hugs me, my cup runneth over. This life is hard and messy and different than I expected, but it is also full of so much joy and beauty. And to think, if I had a choice, I would have missed out on God’s greatest blessing.