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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Anita, Two Months Later
“When she was born, the pediatrician told me Anita should be kept in observation because she had DOWN Syndrome.”

baby feet
"Nothing happens by chance. And much less, a gift like this."

Madrid, July 12, 2011. A family from Madrid shared this testimony of a family event that changed their lives. This written testimony, published anonymously at the family’s request, came from a conversation that Anita’s mother had with a consecrated woman in Regnum Christi.


Two months have passed since Anita was born, and I don’t want to miss writing down what her coming meant for us and how we have lived through this experience. Right now I don’t know if I’m writing it to share it with those it could help or just to keep it for ourselves as a memory that may also be useful for our children someday. In any case, I feel the need to write, so here goes…

Ana was born three weeks early and by “chance” (Providence, I’d say), my husband got there on time, since he was coming in from a trip, and at first he was going to go directly to another destination. He had been there for all the births, but in this one especially, God wanted him at my side. Everything happened very fast. We got to the hospital at 12:00 and Anita was born at 12:50… I don’t think there is any feeling comparable to the moment when they put your baby on your breast just after birth… you look at that little face and you don’t know how you could have lived without him (her, in this case) until that day, you love him so much. The same happened with Anita as with the four older babies, and it is that “fragrance of love,” as my husband would say, that made it one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

When they cut Anita’s umbilical cord, they brought her to the pediatrician and called my husband. It seemed to me that he took a while to come back but I didn’t give it any importance. He came back afterwards with the pediatrician, who told me in a calm, very low voice that the baby had to stay in observation because she had DOWN Syndrome and they needed to keep an eye on her until they knew if there were any other complications. My husband was at my side, holding my hand. The pediatrician had told him beforehand but he did not know how to tell me. Since I was already crying from the emotion, I didn’t say anything. I kept crying quietly and squeezed my husband’s hand… I had a problem with the epidural which, together with my lung problems, made me start having trouble breathing and they had to resuscitate me. While they were moving me along the hallways to the Intensive Care Unit and putting the oxygen mask on me, I got scared… Then I suddenly felt “essential” in this world, with five children, one of them with DOWN Syndrome, and the sensation of drowning made me feel very nervous.

After a while, I started to get better and was able to assimilate the news. I had a tremendous feeling of emptiness because I didn’t have my baby next to me and I didn’t know how she was doing. I had to recognize that I wasn’t worried so much about her having DOWN Syndrome as I was about her having a serious heart condition. I had another case very much in mind, the son of some friends, who had spent his first years of life struggling with heart problems, although thanks be to God, he got through it and did very well.

I was just a few hours in recovery, but it seemed eternal to me. Finally they let my husband come in. He had been doing laps from the crib to the admission paperwork, trying to see me, etc. When we were finally able to talk, I told him that I had caused all of this, and I told him the following:

A few years ago, when another of our daughters was very little, I got together with some friends and one of them was pregnant. She was going to get an amniocentesis because, and I quote, “If there is anything wrong, I don’t want him.” She said it was hard enough having children, much less having them “with problems.” That struck me very much; I couldn’t digest it. I had always wanted to think that the people who opted for abortion did it mainly out of ignorance, because of pressure, out of desperation, but it was clear that it was not always that way, and that society had succeeded in imposing a selfish lifestyle without sacrifice on many. I remember then having asked the Lord not to send a child with problems to that friend, and that if he was planning to do so, that he should send it to me instead. And that was that.

During the following years, I forgot that “offering” to the Lord. However, in my pregnancy with Anita I remembered it. Before the first ultrasound, I renewed my offering. I don’t know if I was especially sensitized by the change of legislation on abortion, but the case is that I told God that if he wanted to send DOWN children, he should send them to our family because we would welcome them. It can seem very generous on my part, but it was not really, because I put conditions. I said that I thought I was prepared to take care of a child who would end up always being a child, but that I did not think I had a big enough heart to see him suffer, and to please send him healthy, since the memory of those friends who had sick children seemed too difficult for me to be able to face a similar situation.

I went to the first ultrasound a bit nervous and when they told me everything was fine, I had a strange sensation. On the one hand, I was somewhat relieved, but on the other hand, I did not understand why the Lord had not accepted my offering when it had been sincere. So that’s as far as that got. I spent the rest of the pregnancy thinking I was going to have a healthy and “normal” baby girl. 

When I told my husband all of this, he didn’t seem very surprised. It turned out that he had also made a similar offering with regards to another acquaintance who had “by chance” given birth to a healthy boy on the same day and at the same time as Anita. And neither of us had shared this until then.

So, God took us at our word. First lesson: be careful about what you offer to the Lord; he will take it very seriously. And regarding the limitation on my offer, he sent her to us healthy. Second lesson, which is much more important and which is why I think I’m writing this: God does not let himself be outdone in generosity. Since Ana’s birth, he has changed our life, our way of seeing things, our relationship with the family. He has filled all of our hearts, leaving aside anything that could keep us from being united in caring for and protecting the baby. She has brought the peace our heart yearned for and only those who know us well understand what that has meant to us. Ana, our little, beautiful daughter with DOWN Syndrome, is not special because she has a triple 21st chromosome, but because she is touched by God to teach us humility and love.

Now, two months later, we are starting to realize the special care that Ana will require, and the need to adapt our life to hers. It was not in vain that we wrote on a family calendar at home, on the date of April 13: “Ana was born: change of plans.” I think we still don’t know what we’re facing, and it is that lack of knowledge that has kept us from having moments of depression. It is not our merit, just ignorance, or rather God’s grace. But what is certain is that we are happy with Ana, with her just as she is, with the opportunity she has given us to grow. She is already starting to smile and in every smile we can glimpse the happiness we are going to have with the opportunity to care for her.

We are sure that both on the personal level and as a family, she is going to make us better people, she is going to make us more generous. She is going to help us not to get so attached to our own plans. She is going to help us enjoy the simple things. As a friend of my sister’s said, she is going to introduce us to “a new dimension of love.” Of course, we know that hard times will come, but we also know that we are not alone. On the one hand, we are overwhelmed by the love so many family members and friends have shown, those we know we can count on. But above all, we are accompanied by the words of our beloved Virgin of Guadalupe: “Are you not under my shadow and protection?  Am I not your health? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Am I not here who am your Mother?”

I would like these words to give all of us the peace of knowing that we are in the best hands. Nothing happens by chance. And much less, a gift like this. May we be able to keep that security alive, and in the future, without fear, let ourselves be surprised by God.



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