A couple of my fellow contributors to the Ignitum Today blog are asking for lots of prayers. Andrew and Christina were married in October of 2011. Just one month later they happily discovered that Christina was with child. However, their elation soon turned to concern when their unborn daughter, Maria Isabella, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida. Right now, Christina and little ‘Bella’ are in recovery mode after undergoing fetal repair surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Earlier this month on their blog, Christina wrote:
I sometimes imagine Maria Isabella watching her little cousins swimming or running around the yard and her not being able to keep up….and it breaks my heart to think that she might not be able to do all of the *normal* things that other kids do.
But then I ask myself, “What is normal“? Really, Seriously. What is normal?
I don’t know exactly what to say. I haven’t come up with some easy or funny/witty answer to that question. But I do know one thing……this beloved creature within me, our beautiful and precious daughter, is a gift. She is a gift who the Lord desires to use to pour out blessing on to those around her….I just pray that as a mother, I might help her to truly be everything that The Father has created her for.
Read the rest of her moving reflection.
Everyday children like little Maria Isabella are killed in the womb to ‘shield (them) from the misery‘ of never being ‘normally’ functioning human beings. But, as Christina asks, what is ‘normal?’ And who says we all have to have the same abilities to be happy?
Do we not all develop our own sense of ‘normalcy’ based on our individual likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities? Why would children with disabilities, though they may not be the picture of perfect health, be any different? In fact, Researchers at Newcastle University recently applied standard self-assessment techniques used to appraise children’s levels of happiness to 500 young people with cerebral palsy. The results demonstrated that “Disabled children in the North of England have the same range of happiness and unhappiness as all children.” As they grow up and develop their sense of self, “they see their disabilities as part as who they are…(and) they perceived their position in life no differently as their friends in the general population.” In other words, yes, children with disabilities will develop their own sense of ‘normalcy’ just like anyone else and they will enjoy their lives immensely…if they’re given the opportunity.
For example: take a look at this video of a little boy with spina bifida playing outside with his big sister. Can he ride a bike (what many would call a ‘normal’ children’s activity), like she does? No. But this ‘crazy driver’ did just get a brand new wheelchair to push himself around the driveway in and, judging by the squeals of delight, they’re both having an equally good time.
I hope you will join me in praying for little Maria Isabella (and her parents). May she grow to discover for herself what ‘normal’ life is like for her and enjoy all the beauty and goodness that life can bring.
If you’re interested you can follow updates from Andrew and Christina on their blog.