By Tera Meyers, Mother of Samuel
My name is Tera and I am 35 years old. I would like to share my story with you. When I was 23 years old, I got married and started my career. I planned on having children some day, but wanted to wait until my husband and I were established in our careers and had saved some money. Only four short months after our wedding, I found that I was expecting and at the time I was devastated. I had just landed a job at a children’s facility as their director and had only been working for 6 months. My husband was thrilled, we knew we would start a family one day and God decided that this would be the time. I was excited after a while because I always wanted to be a mother, but for me the timing was all wrong. I always said that I would be a stay at home mother and currently I was the provider, as my husband was only a PGA apprentice at the time. How would we ever afford a child and me staying home on his stipend?
Three other wives of the apprentices were expecting and we were all seeing the same Dr/Midwife group in central Florida. We would compare visit notes and talk about how exciting being pregnant was. On our third visit for prenatal check ups they offered each of us the triple screen test and each of us agreed to have it done. I really had no idea what it was about, but figured “Why Not”? The other expecting mothers got their results first and all of them were in the “normal” range, but when mine came back it was at a risk of having a child with Down Syndrome. The midwife told me not to be concerned because the results said that I had a 1 in 16 chance. I knew she was wrong. You see, when I was reading the book What to Expect When You are Expecting there was a chapter about birth defects (as they put it) and I remember sitting down with my husband and talking to him about the possibility of a complication in the pregnancy. I wanted to know if we could keep the baby and if he would have a problem with that. I remember him saying that no matter what God had planned for us, we would keep the baby. So I told the midwife that I really felt like this baby was that 1 in 16. After much debate, the doctor encouraged us to have an amino test performed to be sure. I had no idea that abortion was on their minds, so I reluctantly agreed. They told me that if I didn’t hear from them in 10 days that everything was fine.
I went home and marked my calendar for 10 days. I called all my family and friends and told them not to call the house before 5 o’clock each day. I had a routine to check my answering machine every 3 hours to make sure that there would be no surprises for me when I got home. Every day before leaving work I would call the house to make sure my midwife hadn’t called. But on the 9th day I wasn’t feeling well and left work an hour early. I stopped off at the gym to workout and calm my nerves but after only a few minutes I had to leave. I headed home and walked in the door at 4:35 and saw the machine blinking. As I headed to the machine I stopped at the dining table to pray and beg the Lord to let it be my imagination or my mother, maybe she forgot and called me early. I prayed until 5 minutes to 5PM. When I answered the machine it was the nurse telling me to call my midwife by 5, she needed to talk to me right away. I waited another few minutes and then finally called.
My midwife asked if my husband and I could come in for an after hours appointment and I said “No, just tell me now”, she said the words “Tera, I regret to inform you that the child you are carrying has Down Syndrome”. My immediate response was “ Is it a boy or a girl?” and before answering me she said “First I need to know, do you plan on keeping the baby?” and I said “Yes, is it a boy or a girl?” Her reply was “God has blessed you with the boy you wanted”. We talked about making a few appointments for genetic counseling and hung up the phone. I began to cry harder than I had ever cried in my whole life. I was so sad and I wasn’t even sure why. I hadn’t heard that the baby had passed away, why was I crying? Then I cried out to God to please not hear my cries as I prayed, but to know that I was scared and that I needed Him. I suddenly realized that I would have to be the one to tell my husband. What if he changed his mind, what if he didn’t want to continue with the pregnancy? What would I do? I called my mother; I cried to her and asked her for wisdom and prayer. She then had my pastor call me from Ohio. He explained to me that God did not believe in abortion and that he and my family did not believe in abortion and that my decision had to be between me and God and if that were true, then I would know what to do. He prayed with me and then encouraged me to have faith in my husband and call him right away.
I went to pick up my husband from work and we spent the rest of the evening trying to make sense of all that we had been told. The next few days were filled with visits to counselor and doctors. We went to the library and checked out books and tried to come to terms with everything that we had just learned. We had to tell our family and friends and wait for their reactions, some positive and some certain that we would just “quietly dismiss” this pregnancy and start again. We were both so sad and confused. Thru it all we found comfort in the knowledge of the Lord. I began to meditate on scripture and found peace in knowing that God planned this pregnancy. I wrote verses from the Bible (like Psalm 143:8 and Jeremiah 29:11-13) on index cards and posted them where I could see them daily.
When I went to work I found that 6 of the families that came to my center had children with Down syndrome. I called and asked them to bring their children to play and talk to me so I could see what a child like this was like. I remember the parents being so thankful and excited that I had “chosen” to keep my baby. This all took me by surprise, something that I would later find out why.
One month later; after prayerfully doing everything we could to prepare for this adventure, we met our doctor. I was only being seen by the midwife and this meeting was in case there was a need for a c-section or some other complication, the doctor would be called in. I was so excited! My husband couldn’t be there but he and I felt very proud of all the knowledge we had obtained on this new subject. When the doctor walked in he never even looked up from his notes. He just asked me one question: “Why have you not chosen to terminate this pregnancy?” I was shocked and felt as though someone had just hit me in the head with a 2x4. So I asked him to repeat himself, to which he replied “Didn’t anyone give you your options? Why are you still pregnant?” “Do you not realize that you can terminate up until the fetus is born and start over and have a normal, healthy pregnancy?” I was completely lost as to what to say. This dialog went on for over an hour and finally I told him that I was not terminating my pregnancy and that even as we sat there and spoke the baby was kicking me and reminding me that he was there. I left there exhausted and sad. I reminded myself to turn to God daily and focus on HIM to provide me with the strength to make it through this time.
Four months later our son Samuel was born. I had a natural delivery and it truly was the happiest day of my life. He was beautiful and healthy. He did have Down syndrome but I didn’t care. He never cried, just a little squeaky sound, and he was the most cuddly baby I had ever held. There were so many nurses and visitors those first two days, just checking on the baby that the doctor said shouldn’t have been born.
That was almost 11 years ago. Today, Sam is still the healthiest of my three children. He has attended regular school for the past four years and can read and write at first grade level. This year we are going to home educate him. He is very popular in our community, playing soccer, t-ball and swimming, and is the nicest boy I think I have ever met. He loves the Lord and sings and praises Him daily. I know I will never be lonely as long as both of us live because Sam reminds me daily how much he loves me. People often ask me if I was given the chance to take the Down syndrome away would I. I wouldn’t. I love this boy, and who knows what boy I would get instead!
Every day hasn’t been a picnic. There have been times of frustration and tears. There have been some hearing problems and medical concerns, but we just weather that like we would if it were with our girls. Education has been the biggest challenge, but we are learning to take it one day at a time. There is no guarantee of perfection with any child or with anyone. I am so glad God chose me to be Sam’s mom, and I am so glad that I trusted HIM enough to give Sam life. I hope this letter offers you some hope. There are so many reasons to consider life and there are so many that are able to handle having a child like this. Take me for example; I have found a way to stop and smell the roses, and they are so sweet!