Tonight is a hard night. I am struggling. My heart is heavy and aching. James may be deaf, or if not, extremely hard of hearing. He failed his hearing screen in the hospital twice. He doesn’t respond to loud noises. .We will have more audiological testing done at some point in the future to evaluate this. He makes very little noise himself. At 3 months, he is – of course – nowhere near his peers in development. He should be smiling and cooing and interacting with us. While he is frequently bright-eyed and alert, his interaction level is extremely low for a baby of his age. Seeing pictures of all of my friend’s babies at this age – cooing, smiling, interacting – while it makes me happy – it also makes me profoundly sad and anxious.
And then – every time I turn on the news or look at Facebook, I am reminded that somehow, this election has turned into an abortion debate. At a time like this in my life, seeing these stories of late term abortions is so hard on this mother’s heart. It has made me realize that the world hates babies like James. Oh sure, everyone loves his pictures on Facebook. Everyone talks about our bravery and strength in the face of such challenges. Everyone roots for James.
Yet, doctors encourage abortions for babies just like him. As if because he is handicapped, he is somehow a lesser child, not worth as much as a “normal, healthy” baby.
Will James ever contribute anything significant to the world? He will never discover a branch of science. He will never be a doctor or an architect or an artist. He will never make a contribution that people will see as mattering. He will always be handicapped, always need support and care.
Yet, he contributes to our family. His sisters love him. They are learning to be gentle with him, to be kind, to accept that we are not all the same, to understand illness, to understand what it means to sacrifice yourself and your life to take care of someone else. I firmly believe that they will grow up kinder, more compassionate people – in a world that definitely needs more of those people. Further, he has taught me to be kinder, more patient and understanding, less prejudiced and judgmental.
In fact, I would argue that babies like James bring light into a dark world. I am a better person for knowing him. His sisters will be better for having loved him. He is not broken or imperfect. He is simply himself, and he doesn’t know that he is anything less than anyone else. Because he isn’t.