In the fourth month of my pregnancy, the flaws of our son were becoming visible in ultrasound examinations: his diseased heart, changes in his brain, an oversized bladder, clubfeet, weight dystrophy.
A wave of tears flooded over me and I was touched by ordinary, human fear and unsettling questions. Will I reject him when I see my (perhaps deformed) child?
An ill child does not go hand in hand with life success….what will people think?
What about my job and my other responsibilities–how will we manage?
Will I even survive this pregnancy?
Yet this hurricane of thoughts and emotions arrived as quickly as it went away.
After the genetics test, we learned that our son was diagnosed with Edwards’ Syndrome. Little Jaś had only a five percent chance to be born alive. And if we survived birth? He would maybe live for a few days, weeks, perhaps months.
I consider myself to be a very lucky person, for I did not go through this experience alone. On the one side, I had my husband, seven healthy and beautiful children, my family, my friends. On the other side I had Him – my God, Creator, and Savior, who always assured me in my heart that He would get me through this, even when I had the physical feeling of hanging next to Him on the Cross.
I remember my stay at the clinical hospital during which amniocentesis was to be carried out to diagnose my son’s flaws. Apart from me, there were two other women whose children were suspected to have Down’s Syndrome. For test results, we were to wait three weeks.
One of the women grimly said, that when three weeks had passed, she’d be in her seventeenth week, and the child will be too old to… (…abort. She did not say that word, but we all knew what she meant). The women were scared and broken. One of them asked me:
“What will you do?”
And I responded: “I will continue to love…”. And so, I did and still do.
I prayed for little Jaś to not suffer after birth and for him to not die lonely and abandoned in an incubator.
Jaś fell asleep forever in my arms, thirty minutes after I gave birth to him.
My husband, my children, and my mother were able to carry him in their arms to bid him farewell. We were given a few hours to say goodbye to him.
On that day, we experienced the great happiness of birth and immediately after the deep sorrow of separation.
Suffering can be given meaning so that it will not be fruitless and destructive. We gave it to God.
As parents, we had a responsibility to care for our son and now, he now cares for us eternally in Heaven.
What’s left in my now is longing, but also peace in my heart – I came to terms with the fact that love for my child had to be difficult and greatly tested.
This love is still present. It will never end.
Title image: Paulina Nowakowska with her son, Jaś. Source: P. Nowakowska/Facebook