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HANDICAPPED?       DFO830       May 1979
--It Can Be a Blessing!--It Depends on How You Take It!--Hebrews 12:11.

       (We received the following letter, passed on to us by one of our Editors, Justus Ashtree, from his sister in the U.S., who is not in the Family, but very friendly & favourable.--Pray for her!)

Dearest Family,                                         April 9, 1979
       First of all, we are all doing very well now. Occasionally I get too tired but that's my own fault (with a little help from Stephen, the baby). Nonetheless, I'm recuperating fast. I've had lots of loving help from Mother, Roger's mother, & church members. They were all helpful with meals & housework, so that we could continue functioning fairly normally, and so that I wouldn't have to worry about laundry or food or dishes.

       As you've probably guessed, a Cesarean delivery was not my first choice. I was greatly disappointed at not having a natural birth since we had prepared for it for 9 months. I was in labour for 20 hours (not particularly unusual for 1st child) and only dilated 5-1/2 cm.

       The baby would not move into the birth canal. This was partially, but not totally due to the baby being backwards (its back to my back instead of facing my back). The doctor even tried helping my labour with an IV of pitossin--a hormone used to induce and/or regulate problem labour. This didn't even help.

       Our doctor is not one to rush into a C-Section, particularly on a first child as it usually means that type of delivery next time. Also he doesn't feel major surgery should ever be done if it can be avoided. Nonetheless, I'm thankful for the C-section techniques of today for I wonder if Stephen & I would have made it a hundred years ago. I must admit, even with all my disappointment, when I was finally given the anaesthetic it was so great to stop hurting--I'd had very hard back labour pains.

       I did not have a total anaesthetic, but an epidural anaesthetic. It numbs you from about the ribs down. You can still move your feet & are totally awake & coherent. Therefore I was able to see Stephen right in the delivery room. Another nice thing is that there aren't any bad after effects.

       (EDITOR'S NOTE: AN EPIDURAL OFTEN DOES NOT STOP INTENSE BACK PAIN during labour, although it did in Cindee's case. Although, as Cindee pointed out, it has some advantages over other anaesthetics, it does, contrary to the information she was given, cross the placenta to the fetus. Research has shown that even these "relatively harmless" anaesthetics are capable of threatening the heath of an unborn or newborn baby by in some cases causing a temporary sharp drop in the heart rate & respiration, because of a decrease in his oxygen supply, & therefore creating the possibility, minimal or great, of brain damage. It can also slow down the beginning of the infant's sucking reflex.--See Naturebirth, pg.73, Danae Brook & Have It Your Way, pg.260, Vicki Walton.)

       Roger was also allowed in the delivery room & sat by my head talking with me & the doctors.

       Having an epidural anaesthetic does not affect nursing the baby. Since it's a local, the drug effect cannot be transferred to the baby through the mother's milk. You have to wait several hours to nurse the baby because you're numb & can't manipulate your lower half to get in position to handle the baby, but that's all. Many C-sections put off nursing for several days because they're very sore from the surgery, but I didn't have that problem. As a matter of fact, I had very little pain, for which I'm very thankful.

       Well, enough about my surgery. Now to let you know what has taken place. First, the doctors suspect that Stephen has Down's syndrome (Mongoloid). We've known this since the morning after his birth. A chromosome test has been done, & we are waiting for the results. The test will verify the diagnosis & let us know what type of Down's Stephen has. It won't make much difference as far as Stephen, to know which type, but it will help us.

       If this was an "accident of nature" we can go ahead & have more children, the Lord willing. If we find that Roger or I are a carrier, we will probably not try to have more children because of the greatly increased odds of another Down's child. Please pray for us as we wait for these result.

       Just a few words about Down's Syndrome. Our little boy will most likely be physically & mentally retarded. The degree cannot be predetermined. Probably he will be trainable & educatable to maybe a 6th grade level--this we'll have to wait & see. In all likelihood he'll be a very happy, loving person. His life may be filled with more illness than the usual child--particularly respiratory illnesses. We are so thankful that to date he seems to be a normally healthy baby.--No heart problems, as with many Down's babies.

       In addition to the above mentioned disappointments, we've had a problem getting Stephen back up to his birth weight. He lost from his original 8 lb. 4 oz., to 7 lb. 1 oz. the first 10 days. When he would breastfeed he would fall asleep and/or we couldn't get him to take the breast. After much help from our doctors & Irene, our midwife friend, we got him to nurse some but not enough. He still would go to sleep.

       Finally we've gone to bottle feeding with formula 4 times a day, & bottle feeding with breast milk the other 4 feedings. We've rented an electric breast pump in order to keep my milk in so we can hopefully go back to breast feeding as Stephen gets stronger & hungrier & better able to nurse. So far Stephen has gained dramatically since we've gone to the bottles & nipples. Apparently Stephen was not able to maintain the more strenuous sucking necessary to nurse. Thankfully my plentiful milk supply has not suffered from the tension created by all the problems we've faced surrounding & since Stephen's birth.

       I hope this letter has not proved to be too depressing. I don't intend it to be that way. I only wanted to share the past 4 weeks of our lives with you. We of course have shed many tears (partially from those postpartum blues) & felt heartache, but we've also praised the Lord for the blessings we have been given through Stephen.

       We're looking forward to taking our beautiful (he really is) little boy out to church Sunday. Easter seems to be such an appropriate time for Mother & Son to make their first venture into public. Easter is a time to celebrate new beginnings--isn't it? PTL!

       Must close now, Stephen says it's eating time! Remember we love you all dearly & keep you in our thoughts & prayers daily. God bless you in your work & play. Love Always--Cindee.

       1. MONGOLOID CHILDREN CAN SOMETIMES BE QUITE INTELLIGENT, BUT THEY ARE ALWAYS CHILDREN for their whole lives & are very child-like & simple. Most of them that I have known in Christian families were very sweet, really loved the Lord.

       2. I KNEW ONE LITTLE GIRL WHO HAD HER OWN PRAYER LIST & she prayed every day. She had a prayer box full of prayer requests & she prayed for all of them. She was always fascinated by all the missionaries & wanted to make sure that her mother, who was quite wealthy, took care of all the missionaries & sent money to them. She was constantly almost like her mother's conscience, and of course, how could her mother refuse?

       3. SHE WAS REALLY MISSIONARY MINDED & went to all the various meetings & church meetings & missionary conferences & listened to all their missionary tales, just like a little child. Although I think at the time I knew her she was about 28 or 30, she actually had the mentality of about a 10 or 12-year-old which is not too bad. Someone has said that the average mentality of the whole United States is about 12 years of age!

       4. ONE OF THE SWEETEST CHARACTERS I EVER KNEW WAS A GIRL IN PENNSYLVANIA. She was a beautiful girl, very intelligent, charming, & I would even say sexy when I knew her--it was before I was married. I was an older teenager or in my early 20's & she was about 35 or 40, a beautiful woman, but she never married, because she had to spend her entire life taking care of her retarded brother. She had a good job & made good money in Pennsylvania someplace doing secretarial work.

       5. HER SISTER WAS A LITTLE RETARDED but was intelligent enough to stay home & take care of the elder brother who was a complete Mongoloid. He was in his upper 40s but he was just like a child. He was just like a little boy.

       6. HE'D RUN AROUND LIKE A LITTLE BOY & ENJOYED THE THINGS THAT LITTLE BOYS ENJOY & he was very sweet. We used to go over there often & visit, & he would even sit there & listen like a child for a little while, & then he would run out to play.

       7. HE COULD TALK & CONVERSE & EVERYTHING, BUT HE JUST NEVER GOT ANY FURTHER than like an 8 to 10-year-old child, or maybe even younger like 6 or 7. But he was very sweet & he wasn't too hard to take care of. It was just like taking care of a child. The older sister was not entirely too practical, but she was intelligent enough to take care of him at home while the other sister went to work & earned the living for the family. They took care of him his whole life, at least up to that time when I knew him. It's not rare at all.

       8. DALE & ROY ROGERS, THE FAMOUS COWBOY MOVIE STARS & HORSEMEN, HAD A LITTLE MONGOLOID GIRL. Dale even wrote a book about the girl. Angel Unaware, published by Fleming H. Revell, New Jersey, U.S.A. What a tremendous change that girl wrought in their lives, it really brought them to the Lord!

       9. THAT LITTLE ANGEL FROM HEAVEN JUST TRANSFORMED THEIR WHOLE FAMILY & their whole lives & everything. The Lord used it as a thing to win them. And I think then the little girl went on, she eventually died sometime in her childhood. But she was a tremendously good influence on them & brought them closer to the Lord through the affliction & experience. So this is a fairly common thing.

       10. THERE WAS ONE IN A LITTLE VILLAGE WE LIVED IN ONCE, & HE WAS ALWAYS WANTING CHRISTIAN BOOKS from Sara. He was always begging her for picture books about Jesus & wanting to read the stories. And he was a good influence on his parents because he was bringing home these books & then they would read them too. (Maria: The whole town!) The whole town got influenced through her giving this retarded boy picture books about Jesus.

       11. HE WAS QUITE CHILDLIKE & CHILDISH & FRANK & OPEN about begging for them & asking for them, whereas the rest of them were sort of ashamed to do it. But it just shows that the whole town's mental level wasn't too much above his!--And they all enjoyed the books! PTL!

       12. GOD KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING, & THE LORD KNOWS THE PURPOSES & REASONS. Often it's probably to humble the parents & chasten them for perhaps their lives or sins, or if nothing else, to draw them closer to Him. (Maria: And keep them from going astray in the future.) Yes, & make them more loving & merciful to a child that never really grows up, which is somewhat of a humbling thing. From all the families I've known, they were all quite humbled by having the child.

       13. SO WE KNOW THE LORD HAS PURPOSES FOR ALL THESE THINGS, & reasons behind such afflictions, & "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord" (Rom.8:28), & apparently this young woman & her family love the Lord, so, praise the Lord!

       14. THANK GOD HE'S BEEN EXTRA GOOD TO US IN OUR FAMILY & given us nearly all healthy normal, wonderful children. We've had very few afflicted children in the whole Family, & God allowed those for some reason, so praise the Lord!

       15. WE JUST REMEMBERED ABOUT JULIO WHO ALWAYS USED TO BE DOWN AT THE TOWN PLAZA. Everybody in town knew him, & he was a good friend of ours & used to come sit at our table. Of course, just like a little kid, he was polite & had been taught not to ask for it, but he would sort of expect us to order him some ice cream or coffee or something, or a coke.

       16. HE WAS SO CHARMING & HE WAS SO INTERESTED IN PICTURES OF DAVIDITO. He wanted to see the new little baby & he was just like a child, I'd say his mental level was more like a 7 or 8 year old, although he was about 30.

       17. EVERYBODY LOVED HIM & EVERYBODY WAS GOOD TO HIM, & he knew everybody loved him. He made himself at home down there in the Plaza & he just had a multitude of friends. Everybody was his friend, & he always went down there to see them.

       18. HE WOULD GO FROM TABLE TO TABLE & CHAT & GET ALL THE LATEST NEWS. (Maria: He'd try to talk, but you couldn't understand him. You got the impression he talked.) He was so expressive when we carried on a conversation with him.

       19. HE MADE HIMSELF UNDERSTOOD, BUT HE DIDN'T ACTUALLY TALK. He made himself so well understood that apparently he didn't even have to talk, so he hadn't learned to talk I guess. I'm sure he could have if somebody had taught him or had really taken time with him.

       20. HE WAS ALWAYS ABOUT THE HAPPIEST ONE IN THE PLAZA & he had lots of friends & seemed to be healthy & happy & got along just fine. Everybody loved him & he loved everybody. I started to say the old saying that he was just as happy as if he had good sense, but he was probably a whole lot happier! Ha!

       21. AND JUST LIKE WITH THIS YOUNG WOMAN, A MOTHER CAN LOVE A CHILD LIKE THAT JUST AS MUCH, & USUALLY EVEN MORE. And frequently the love given is very very much rewarded because the child becomes extremely loving towards the mother because he gets a lot of love & affection that even normal children sometimes don't get--extra love & extra attention. Therefore the child himself is usually extra loving & extra attentive to the mother. She'll have a lot of love.

       22. SO THE LOVE GIVEN & RECEIVED IS EXTREMELY REWARDING, & after all, that's what it's all about, isn't it? Love! PTL! And this is something I have found true, & characteristic of nearly all the families in which there is an afflicted child, it has a very good effect on the whole family.

       23. THE WHOLE FAMILY IS MADE MORE HUMBLE, MORE LOVING & MORE SEEKING THE LORD. The pity & love for the child is tremendously increased & amplified by the child's affliction & it causes the whole family, in a way, to be more humble & more loving & more kind & more understanding. It usually draws them all closer to the Lord, if they do not allow it to embitter them or blame God for it & curse God & turn against or away from the Lord because of their own, unrepentant, proud, resentful spirit.

       24. IF THEY TAKE IT AS FROM THE LORD & AS A CHASTENING OR A CHASTISING OR JUST THE WILL OF GOD, no matter what, even if they feel that perhaps it's partly due to their own sins or something, if they accept it in the Lord & are humble about it & are sweet about it & loving & kind to the child, it usually has a very sweetening, humbling, loving, drawing influence on the entire family, drawing them all closer to the Lord, including the child himself, who is then usually trained to really know & love the Lord & pray, though a child all his life & child-like.

       25. HE DOESN'T HAVE TO "BECOME AS A LITTLE CHILD, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mk.10:14) He stays a little child all his life so his chances are almost better than some of the adults who get too biggity & too smart for their own good & stray away from the Lord.

       26. THESE CHILDREN STAY CHILDREN THEIR WHOLE LIVES, SO THEY ACTUALLY AVOID MANY OF THE PROBLEMS OF GROWING UP & becoming adults, & because of which many people stray away from the Lord. These children who stay children stay childlike & simple & believing & faithful & loving & kind & gentle & keep their whole family that way as well.

       27. SO GOD HAS HIS PURPOSES IN THESE THINGS. His ways are above our ways, as high as the Heaven is above the Earth, His ways are not our ways. (Isa.55:8,9.) God knows what He's doing.

       28. AFTER ALL, THE WHOLE PURPOSE AS WE SAID A MOMENT AGO, IS LOVE: To make us, more loving & keep a child loving & having a loving influence upon the whole family, an influence of the Lord that gives us more love for each other.

       29. ALL THINGS TRULY WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE THE LORD.--No matter what it is. It may not always seem like it, but God often gets His greatest victories out of seeming defeat, the advantage of a handicap!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family