WHY DO WE MURDER DOWN SYNDROME BABIES?
My wife fell exhausted into a huge green chair in the lobby of the Red Lion Hotel. We had survived a Christmas dinner with former parishioners whose two boys, mixed with ours, created a chemical reaction that left us shell shocked. Friends of a former parish had invited us to Christmas dinner at their Modesto, Calif., home. Peter Broderick and his wife, Carla Bratcher, were hard workers in our former parish. They both ran busy practices as family physicians. We came from Oakland, driving through the thick tule fog for the better part of the trip. Just after crossing the Altamont Pass, the fog wrapped around our car like molasses around a spoon, making it impossible to see five feet in front of us. So we decided to spend the night in a hotel.
After dinner we wished the Broderick family a “merry Christmas,” packed the kids into the car, and headed downtown to our hotel. After getting the boys into bed, my wife and I fell asleep immediately. The long drive from Oakland combined with the all-but-peaceful Christmas dinner had done us in. The temperature in the valley had dropped to freezing that Christmas night, which taxed us even more. Everything felt ten times worse for my wife, since she was eight months pregnant.
Knowing my family was secure, I said my prayers and fell asleep. But we enjoyed little rest that night. At two o’clock in the morning, Donna’s water broke — a month early. We would never have traveled to Modesto, we would never have separated ourselves so far from our doctors, and away from the hospital where Donna was pre-registered had we anticipated such an event. Of course, every expectant mother is told that premature delivery is possible at any time during a pregnancy. But we had never let that fear restrict us before.
I woke up our friend Carla with a phone call and told her that Donna’s water had broken and it looked like our baby was to be born in Modesto that night. Carla, who had delivered our third son, faithfully met us at Modesto’s Memorial Hospital. Donna’s labor was unusually brief compared to her other deliveries, and our new son came into the world on December 26. We named him Christian Augustus James.
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