We were leaving the PICU waiting room late Monday night, finally heading to get some much needed sleep, and a magazine caught my eye just as I was walking out the door. It is called “Above Rubies.” I picked it up, glanced through it quickly and decided to take it with me to read the next day.
I didn’t realize until we were walking to our room that this particular issue has an entire section about parents of special needs children. Specifically mothers who had chosen NOT to abort their babies (even though some were highly encouraged to do so). And yes, there is one about Spina Bifida, except in this particular story, the parents had adopted their daughter from a mother who had chosen not to abort, yet couldn’t care for her. Such a blessing!
In reading this, I realized something though. Something very sad. Something horrifying and, quite frankly, devastating.
I remembered our first visit with Dr. Smith in his office 7 days ago. I remember he said that Spina Bifida simply is not as prevalent as it was 20-30 years ago. It’s just not as common of a problem. At the time, I commented, “Because of what we know about Folic Acid.” He nodded…sort of. And though this is true, while reading this article, it hit me! That’s not the only reason this isn’t as common of a problem.
These children are being aborted.
I looked it up. Here’s just one article I found of many:
Neural Tubal Defects are the second most common genetic abnormality (Downs Syndrome being the first). For those that don’t know, a neural tube defect (NTD) is
“Any defect of brain and spinal cord caused by failure of the neural tube to close during growth during pregnancy.” The incidence of NTD is one child in 1,000 births. This means that approximately 2,500 infants with NTDs are born in the United States each year. Neural tube defects cause conditions known as spina bifida (open spine), anencephaly (lack of brain formation), and encephalocele (an abnormal closure of the spinal column).
What is the typical prognosis for Spina Bifida?
Typically, spina bifida is accompanied by hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) in 70 to 90 percent of infants. “All will have bowel and bladder abnormalities, although with new techniques, bowel and bladder continence is becoming a realistic goal for most individuals with spina bifida,” according to Dr. Harold Rekate, an expert on treatment for spina bifida. Intellect of children with spina bifida can range from profound retardation to high intelligence, although few have profound retardation.
An unknown number of children with NTDs are aborted each year.
The overall rate of abortion when an abnormality is detected in the child is at least 73%, with some authorities placing the rate between 80 and 100 percent. (Lyons, Barbara. “Discrimination Against Those With Disabilities”.)
Praise the Lord I don’t fall anywhere in that percentage!
We refused to even have an amniocentesis due to the risk of miscarriage. It didn’t matter what “defect” or “malformation” we were told she had. We knew she was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). She was and is fearfully and wonderfully made. God knit her together in my womb in EXACTLY the manner he intended her to be (Psalm 139:13-14). He does not make mistakes, so who are we to call HIS CREATION defective?
Now, I do not wish to diminish the importance of taking Folic Acid before and during pregnancy because it certainly accounts for a percentage of the decrease and God has given us wisdom and medicine for a reason:
“One of the most exciting medical findings in the last part of the 20th century is that folic acid, a simple, widely available water-soluble vitamin, can prevent spina bifida and anencephaly,” proclaims a March 1993 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Consequently, the U.S. Public Health Service has recommended that all women of childbearing age capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4mg. of folic acid every day to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect. (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/MTHFR)
Guess what. I took Folic Acid. I’ve probably been on prenatal vitamins for over 4 years due to carrying 3 children in a row and breastfeeding. However, I didn’t learn until my 3rd precious baby was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and a blood test was performed on me that I have a gene mutation. The official name of this gene is “methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase” or MTHFR (also referred to as Monday, Thursday, Friday by some in the medical field). Basically, my body doesn’t process Folate properly.
Thankfully, my first 2 children are completely healthy, and I am now on a high-dose regimen of vitamin supplements (about 6 times the daily dosage for folic acid)….and probably will be for the rest of my life. But the fact that I have 2 beautiful and healthy children before Hope only confirms God’s hand in her creation.
She is perfect.
She has some issues. Some things are different for her. But she is NOT a mistake.
Whether God chooses to heal her completely or allow her to go through life with some “differences” or “special needs,” she will be a testimony to his goodness.
By the way, I looked it up and that magazine is FREE to subscribe to. It’s about “Encouraging women in their high calling as wives, mothers and homemakers.” An encouragement I know I need. Perhaps you do too.
Edit and Disclaimer as of August 22, 2012: Some of the ideas and beliefs of the editor of Above Rubies (and writer of other books) Nancy Campbell have been brought to my attention. As a note, I don’t necessarily agree with all of her beliefs on family planning. She is credited with stating that “Contraception, sterilization…[were} masterminded in hell,” as quoted by Mark Driscoll in Religion Saves: and 9 other misconceptions. Though I do agree that both can be misused, to make a blanket statement that neither should ever be used by any Christian is legalistic and narrow. It’s adding something to God’s word that isn’t there. I could probably get into a long editorial about my beliefs on family planning and the like, but I won’t right now. I’ll save that for another post. However, I do believe that children are a blessing whether you have 2 or 10, and the magazine still has a lot to offer on motherhood, childbirth, and related topics.