If you’re anything like me the following is a relatively common scenario…
You pull up to the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant and order a double cheeseburger combo meal with a diet coke. You pay at one window, grab your order at the next and pull away. You open the bag later only to discover a chicken sandwich and take a sip of your diet coke to be greeted with the unwelcome taste of what in some moments you recognize as Dr. Pepper. You are so annoyed! You ordered what you wanted, the screen reflected what you wanted, you paid what you owed for what you wanted, and you still did not get what you wanted! So you’re mad and you’re cursing the worker who handed you the wrong meal and everyone else. In today’s day and age this is unacceptable. While not getting the right meal at a fast food joint may not be more than a minor annoyance and blip in the day, our obsession with getting what we want when we want it underlies most things and when it carries over into our expectations with our children… well that just isn’t fair.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could order one cute typically developed child with blond hair and dimples and hold the temper tantrums and visible birth marks? And we all have high hopes for our kids once they are born. Some have really high hopes! Maybe they will have a genius, professional athlete or even an Olympian. Just maybe even the future President of the United States! Here are the odds….
Odds of winning an Olympic medal: 662,000 to 1
Odds of finding out your child is a genius: 250 to 1
Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1
Odds of becoming president: 10,000,000 to 1
I wonder why this obsession with perfection and from where did it come? Humans by nature are imperfect and there is beauty in imperfection. As I look around at the wide range of people around me I’d like to know what is “perfect” anyway? Maybe you are saying, “But that’s not me! I don’t want a “perfect” child/genius/pro-athlete/President! I just want him or her to be healthy!” I understand as I said the same things. Yet when faced with the prospect and then the reality of actually having a child with Down syndrome I felt so many of my dreams for my little girl plummet. Why? Down syndrome tends to be easy to label as imperfect and because it’s something that can be diagnosed prenatally there is a high abortion rate. But what about all the things we can’t account for after our children are born? A child born seemingly healthy is still at risk to the odds of life. All the testing in the world cannot change the odds post birth and nothing can guarantee what your child will be like. Yes, Down syndrome occurs in one out of every 691 live births. Did you also know that one in 110 children have autism, 3000 babies die of SIDS each year and an estimated 1,340 cancer deaths are expected to occur among children aged 0-14 per year? Our chance of dying from choking on food are 1 in 370,035 and of being killed sometime in the next year in any sort of transportation accident are 77 to 1. The statistics are scary and if looked at too closely make you wonder how we ever get through one day unscathed. Every time you order a cheeseburger, every time you leave your house, and every time you have a baby you are taking a chance. You are playing the odds hoping you get what you’re looking for and you just may not get what you thought you wanted. When it comes to statistics, here is one my doctor told me that I will never forget…
As I agonized over what the odds were that I would have a daughter with Down syndrome he said to me that the odds don’t matter. She either will have Down syndrome or she won’t but that he was 100% certain that I was having a little girl and that I would love her. And I can now say with 100% conviction that he was 100% right.
This quote by Joseph Addison is one I hold close to my heart: “It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.”
Life really is a gamble, just ask Maddox Lucille, one little girl who is beating the odds…