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Extra Love & Joy An Unexpected Diagnosis and a Beautiful Blessing

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“Do you want to test for Down syndrome?” My doctor posed this question to me in the fall of 2017. I was newly pregnant with our second child. My husband, Tim, and I already had a little girl, Lucy, and we were excited to add another child to the mix.

“No,” I answered bluntly. “Why would I test for Down syndrome?”

“It’s just a simple little blood test,” my doctor answered.

I looked at Tim sitting in the corner of the room. He shook his head no.“No,” I steadfastly told the doctor. “We don’t want to test.”

I have always been pro-life. For my entire life, I knew in my heart that life begins at conception and that every little soul is worthy of life—regardless of their gender, circumstances of conception, if they were planned or unplanned and whether or not they have a unique diagnosis.

When my doctor asked if I wanted to test our unborn baby for Down syndrome, I knew that most people who get a positive result end up having an abortion—and that thought made me sick. I left that doctor’s appointment content with our decision to pass on all prenatal testing.

Fast forward to the spring of 2018, and our second baby was born! Another girl and she was beautiful. We named her Alice. When she was an hour old, a doctor looked at me and coldly said, “We think your baby has Down syndrome.” That moment will forever be the most pivotal moment of my life.

I would be lying if I said that learning we had a child with a disability was an easy pill to swallow. It wasn’t. Fear enveloped me and seemed to paralyze me for weeks. But when I came to terms with her diagnosis, I realized something I always knew but seemed to temporarily forget—God doesn’t make mistakes. Alice was not a mistake, her diagnosis was not a mistake and me being chosen as her mom was not a mistake. God gave me Alice for a reason—and I decided that I would spend my life shouting her dignity and showing everyone that she is just as worthy of life as you and me.

The Down syndrome abortion statistics are staggering. Of those women who have a prenatal test for Down syndrome, 67-percent choose abortion. When I think about these women, I so vividly remember the fear that accompanies the diagnosis. But fear is a liar—and when you choose faith over fear and let God’s plans unfold, your life changes forever.

Alice is love. She is four years old now, and she’s smart, funny and the most joyful child I ever met. She does gymnastics and dance classes. She goes to preschool and recently won the “happy-go-lucky award” in her class. She is thriving. Her extra chromosome is extra love and extra joy. Having a child with Down syndrome is nothing like I thought it would be. People with Down syndrome can do anything—but Alice’s abilities do not make her worthy of life; she is worthy of life simply because God created her and she is meant to be here—just like every other baby ever conceived.

With all the pro-life news lately, I smile, thinking about all the babies with Down syndrome who are about to come into the world because people will no longer be able to get an abortion based on this diagnosis. And, even more people will discover what I’ve learned through Alice—disabilities aren’t scary, every child is worthy of life and these babies are sent to teach us what life is all about.

ANN POIRIER lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Tim, and their four children: Lucy, Alice, Calvin and Peter. She writes a blog about Down syndrome and spends her time advocating for those with disabilities and trying to change perceptions. Ann is writing two books. Both center on the blessing of Down syndrome.

This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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