Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On prenatal testing and abortion

I couldn't keep motherhood completely out:

There is a lot of stuff floating around these days regarding prenatal testing and, as always happens, almost in the same sentence, about abortion. Especially abortion and Down Syndrome.

Just read all of these Time Health articles: this one, this one and this one. It's on CBS. There's been something on the Huffington Post. It's even sort of a campaign issue in the US presidential elections.

Of course there are the pro-life people, who almost always bring up and force in religion, and then there are the pro-choice people, who talk about the woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.

Now, I have never covered up the fact that I am strongly pro choice. As long as the choice is the woman's/ the couple's, not the surrounding community's, and definitely not the treating doctor's.

Legalizing abortion and maintaining the already gained advances is one of my pet causes. Pro-lifers tend to give me the serious creeps and regardless of what awesome literature they have or don't have standing on their bookshelves (usually my major point of final judgement of any person) they will always primarily be judged by their patronizing view regarding what could very well at some point be my body. A body that not even the Viking has any say over.

"But? What? Back up a minute here lady," you might be saying to yourself right at this very minute, "You just knowingly had a kid with Down Syndrome, didn't you?"

Yes I did. I knew that my baby had Down Syndrome already when I was 13 weeks pregnant with her, and that she had some sort of chromosomal glitch (either an extra one or one missing, was our initial information) going on when I was 12 weeks pregnant with her.

I had a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test done. I wanted to know exactly what the glitch was so that I could make an informed decision on whether to continue my pregnancy, and also in order to prepare for the future. Had the results said Trisomy 13 or 18, I would have had an abortion. It would have been my right to not bring someone into the world whose short life would have been filled with only pain and suffering (before those become staples of life that is - for my own mother this apparently happened around the time I hit puberty). Had I been in this same situation, -13 weeks pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome - when I had just started university and was together with 'the one before the right one', I would have had an abortion. Had I been in this situation in a parallel universe where I had no chance of education, no resources, an absentee husband, and seven other children to take care of, I hope I would have been smart enough to have an abortion. Had I been one of those people appalled by the fact that my child was going to have a disability and not be in every way superior (if that was ever even possible, right?) to everyone else - an heir to my queen of the world, I hope I would have had an abortion. had I been pregnant with a typical child, but by accident and at the wrong place in my life, I would have had an abortion. It would have been my right. In a lot of the world.  

But I was me. In 2011. Pregnant with my first child. Long time married to my best friend and quite possibly the most wonderful man in the world (regardless of the fact that he's still unable to pronounce 'vegetable' and sucks at keeping secrets from me, even about presents he's bought for me). Educated and informed. Pretty well off. And most importantly, able to devote almost every single second of my life, every day now and in the future, to bringing up my child into happy and healthy adulthood and making sure all is well with her.

It didn't matter that she had Down Syndrome. She wasn't going to suffer. Her heart and other organs checked out. There was essentially nothing else different about her compared to any other baby than her karyotype showing one extra 21st chromosome.

And there still isn't - nearly 5 months after she was born. Partly, because, well, there just isn't (it's only one chromosome [and identical to the other two 21st] out of a total of 47, ya'll), and partly because we've aggressively worked with her in developing her muscle tone, reflexes, nervous system, and abilities since she was three weeks old, something we'll keep doing for as long as she needs it.

We have high hopes for her and we'll do our best to make her kind, smart, understanding, witty, responsible, and fun. She'll probably also be stubborn, rebellious, smart mouthed, and obnoxious, but that's all on us.

I, as well as the recent research, strongly believe that nurture, and not so much nature, will determine how she'll be. Let's hope we measure up.

So you see, it all comes down to specific situations. We even have a plan for her should both of us, her parents, die in a blazing inferno/ horrifying car crash/ a freak skiing accident/ Agatha Christie novel, which will never ever leave her drifting, whatever the circumstances (yes, we're aggressively amassing extraordinary people and a large fortune). It seems to me that instead of making blanket statements and decisions about the legality and ethic qualities of prenatal testing and abortion, let's make it so that everyone is able to make the best choice for them while they have the best and newest information regarding their situation, and no one there who considers bringing up a child with Down Syndrome 'an insurmountable task' or a condition 'not viable with life' as some completely misinformed assholes medical practitioners out there seem to be thinking.

The biggest minus of motherhood so far has been the jello they force on you at the hospital.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

A dose of badly executed and drivel-y CPR

At your own peril:

It'll be a long and wine-y road back to blogging. You'll see.

Now that I have delegated the pungent mommyness - shit, spit and all that gore - from this blog to my other place of neglect and randomness (not a euphemism for what you're thinking, I swear), my new (and as of yet very bare and simplified, cough cough, hrmph, stupid Blogger keeps fucking changing on me all the time, at least once a year, grumble, what's with the 'need for growth?', whine) blog about bringing up a cool little person who just happens to have Down Syndrome and how the world should feel about that, and especially what they should and should not be saying to me about it - 21+21+21=? - I can comfortably fall back into my expatriate rut on this here blog. This blog that's perhaps gasping for air, but might still have a faint pulse.

I might just be able to resuscitate it. Maybe. I'm fairly certain a little miracle could be made to take place by mixing up some Viking taking care of the Babe, coffee from my new and fucking amazing roguishly grey George Clooney Nespresso machine (eat your heart out Starbucks, you no longer have claim to my immortal soul and/or firstborn male heir, whichever should materialize first), chilaquiles rojos, champagne followed by red wine and their after-effects, and a dash of subpar photography.


By joyously (or only slightly hung over from last night's dinner with friends) bringing you the latest 'News from the cracks of the expat bubble', the most recent 'You know you've been living in the land of true tequila for too long when..', or as I like to think of it, 'Come on touristy people, stop wearing shorts during the Mexican winter, it's fucking freezing here':

The first installment.

You know you've been blinded by the Pozole when:

:: You meet another Finn and you do the little kiss-on-the-cheek hello, and only realize several minutes later that you actually kissed (as opposed to waving at them from across the room as is the norm) someone else who's Finnish and then wonder exactly how many million Finnish corpses just groaned and turned in their eternal resting places underneath all that snow. Because you could almost hear the creaking of the repositioning bones. And all of that undigested coffee sloshing around the coffins.

:: You immediately think the world has come to an end when, on a regular weekday, instead of gazing up at the brownish layer of pollution in the horizon, you actually see the volcanoes, Izta and Popo. Scary stuff. What? A virus killed everyone? I'm no Legend, people.

:: You instantly decode ahorita - in a little while - as really signifying 'Lady, we might connect the internet/ install the washing machine/ open the gate/ bring you the coffee when it suits us and really only when it suits us, and even then we might just forget about you entirely and never ever show up, or just pretend like we already did what you asked us to and you just didn't realize it'. And you frequently tell people you're on your way and will be over ahorita when you're actually still simultaneously drying your hair, feeding the baby, and applying mascara.

:: You really do feel that there is no such thing as 'too much chili'. Para mi camarones a la diabla, porfa.

:: You sleep peacefully through any earthquakes that measure less than 6.5 on the Richter scale.

:: You consider time spent sitting in traffic as time to do your taxes, read a good book, shave (beard, legs, armpits, take your pick), moisturize, shop at intersections for all of your various cleaning needs and/or for unhealthy snacks, floss, get through most of the levels of Angry Birds in one single sitting on your phone,  and as time to either teach your bladder who's the boss or practice the elusive art of peeing in and empty Starbucks cup.

:: You bring your infant daughter to Europe only on her Mexican passport, and then upon your return home all of you automatically choose the line in immigration designated for Mexican nationals. Because one of you has a the right passport. So, it's kind of right, right?

:: You decode traffic as an excuse for being late as meaning anything from 'I got some this morning and couldn't just pass it up, whattaya a moron?' to 'I had too much to drink the night before and consequently forgot to set the alarm explaining why I have mascara and lipstick all over my face and am showing up at a meeting I'm not supposed to be attending', and understand that just saying 'traffic' saves everyone hours of explanations, because, and you very well know this, showing up on time is simply not done. Ever.

:: If you're a woman, you wear high heels even if the pavements then try to continuously take your life with their suddenly appearing holes, the size of a small vehicle, and crevices, which in reality should be called ravines. If you're a man you never ever wear shorts in the city. Sure, some snazzy running shoes and jogging pants to go out to a leisurely family lunch on a Sunday, but never shorts. Shorts make tiny little fairies (also known as Smurfs now, thanks to Hollywood) weep.

:: And most of all, if you could never imagine leaving the largest city on earth. Because it's home. For better and for worse.

Nope. They don't all wear glittery sombreros and shoot in the air during revolutions. Some of them wear panama-hats and sit in boats during the weekends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Evolving. Well, maybe. If the baby doesn't cry too much.

That's what I have to do.

I've been gone for a while, I know. For the past four months, I've been wandering the numerous states of Baby Land, crossing in and out of Down Syndrome Jungle, making brief forays into Diaper City (and its various smells, textures, and unknows, of which there are several more than one would initially assume), enjoying Bath-Time Circus, and spending much too much time in Breast-Feeding Desert, on my way to a much happier place known as Formula Gardens.

I have been living my life. As sometimes happens, if you don't watch out. Life will just decide for you.

It seems that I now know exactly what I will do with my life. And thus the title and the purpose of the blog seem a little contradictory to what my life has evolved into.

I have become, first and foremost, a mother to my baby, but also a mother to a child with Down Syndrome - a professional researcher, a singing maniac, a physical therapist, a nutritionist, a Mozart enthusiast, an occupational therapist, a doctor, an advocate, a speech pathologist, an educator, a chemist, a massage therapist, and many more things to help this tiny life in my (no longer exercised from lifting a wine glass, nor tanned from golfing) arms take off and prosper. To help her lead her life, instead of having to always follow someone else.

So like any other mom, just with an added twist of a specialty, and a little more active raising of my daughter thrown in the pot.

But does my full-time specialty motherhood have to signify the end of this here blog? I don't think so. I think it should be a sign to make a change, a divide, a spin-off, a new blog dealing with all of the sprinkles that get willy-nilly thrown on the cone when the cone has a baby cone with an extra 21st chromosome.

Another blog? (And what's with the ice-cream metaphors?)

Yes, I think it has to be so. (No idea.)

See, not once have I been sad or needed support because of the little something extra in my babe's karyotype. I haven't needed comforting (I got my firstborn out of the deal, didn't I?), or for someone to tell me it's not my fault (any idiot knows that babies with Down just happen, as a quirk of nature, right?), or for encouragement on this 'difficult road I've chosen' (Yes, I chose not to abort, but I didn't choose for my babe to have Down Syndrome, so what exactly are you referring to anyhow?), or for anyone to tell me what a saint of a mother I am (because I'm not. I'm pretty sure babe's first word will be 'fuck' and it will be horrifying to everyone and completely my fault [but I also hope that babe, without being asked to, will always give love to the homeless and will also then reap credit for that]).


I have been very overwhelmed by the difficulty in finding decent information (especially some that isn't the complete opposite of some other information) in a situation where the state or the government isn't in charge of what happens in regards to my babe's care and education (yes, we're still living in Mexico), a little put off by how easily God makes an appearance in discussions about Down Syndrome and deciding to have a baby with Down Syndrome, somewhat mystified as to how uneducated most some people, even some very close to me, are regarding Down Syndrome, and how awful and untrue the prevailing perceptions held by many of people with Down Syndrome are.

So I think I have to change the world. One stupid, fucking stereotype (read: one wrong impression) at a time, and for that I'm going to need a whole other platform, one that will involve a lot more preaching, a little less swearing, and a lot more love.

For this little individual who is, and always will be, my daughter. My Vikinga babe and her three 21s.