Victoria & Johnny's Story
Lying on the doc’s table watching
the ultra-sound wand roll through sticky stuff and over my
abdomen, I was petrified to look at the screen. Would there
be a heartbeat? Would Dr. Crandall detect an abnormality?
And if he did, could I handle it? After all, I was 45-years-old.
In the last two and a half years I’d suffered two miscarriages.
Our family practitioner had told
me gravely I was “playing Russian Roulette.”
A fertility specialist my husband
and I consulted told us that at my age he doubted it was possible
to get pregnant naturally and carry to term. He’d never
My parents, appalled that I’d
even be trying because of the risk, urged me to use contraception.
And yet, the words that had the strongest
impact upon me were from Scripture.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth
month for her who was called barren; for nothing will
be impossible for God.” (Luke 1: 36, 37)
Proclaimed on the Feast of the Annunciation
and several other times throughout the year, these verses
strangely appeared during my Quiet Times -- for years -- on
days that coincided with my earnest prayer for married life
and children. Could this promise be for me? Like Mary’s
cousin who went on to deliver John the Baptist, my name is
also Elizabeth…. I talked to a spiritual director about
it, placed it in God’s hands and gently allowed hope
The years my friends were getting
married, buying houses and having kids were the years I walked
my German Shepherd-Husky-Mutt down to Sacred Heart Church,
tied her up at the bicycle rack and cried my eyes out in front
of the Blessed Sacrament. The people of the parish who stopped
to pet Maxine came to know me as “the dog lady.”
A name that smacked of spinster-hood to me...
By the time I hit my early forties,
I imagined I was being judged by the vast majority of society
as a financially-challenged religious fanatic who was either
gay or hopelessly prudish. Whatever. I turned my energies
toward charitable endeavors, enduring friendships, and improving
myself. At the local university, I did enough tendus and echappes
to eventually supplement my B.A. in English with a Certification
in Dance Education.
Right after my first year of teaching
in an arts-magnet school in Ohio, I met and married a successful
architect from Naples, Florida. I was 42 years old. I often
wonder if when they found out I was pregnant, some of society’s
same guard were brokering the odds of my having a special
needs child, and knowingly embroidering sentiments into their
conversations like “unfair to the child,” “selfish,”
and “risky.” No mind. It was all familiar scenery
to me, along the unpopular route.
Loving may be sacrificial, but it’s
never wrong. Inviting a child into the world with special
needs is even more loving, and hence more meritorious, than
if the child were perfect. There can be such blessing in it
that the wait for Downs Syndrome babies is even longer than
that for genetically normal kids. That said, we all want to
deliver a healthy child. And lying on that table, I prayed
hard for one.
I’d said “yes”
to all the restraints my faith required of me, why couldn’t
I say “yes” if God were trying to bless me, I
mused? After all, before walking down the aisle, Mario and
I had signed a paper, pledging that we were open to life.
Yet on the doc’s table I felt
my first qualms of conscience. Would I even have what it takes
to bring up a special needs child? Mario would flip.
I turned my gaze to the screen and
rolled strong silent Hail Mary’s into the fuzzy image….
Dr. Crandall stuck his chin outward
and squinted at the screen as he eased the wand over my belly.
“There’s the heartbeat,” he announced.
Wow. My own quickened.
“The crown-rump link is appropriate
to the gestational age and the nucleo translucency is not
thickened which is a good sign,” he observed from beneath
his spectacles. The nasal bone is present … another
good indication there’s no Downs….” He punched
in a few computations. A couple of lines swung up through
a graph. The doctor waved his laser beam along the dotted
one: “The baby’s in the 65th percentile for weight
and growing right along the standard curve.”
After a few more technical observations
the appointment was over. Dr. Crandall turned to me and announced,
“You can start telling people you’re pregnant.”
Are you sure?” I gulped.
It was the twelfth week of my pregnancy
and my first appointment with this pro-life doctor. Amazingly,
the appointment had fallen on The Feast of the Annunciation.
I was awed.
We named her Victoria when she arrived
September 26th, an 8.5 pound chubby-cheeked “Lumpkin.”
All along the way, Mario and I had
trusted God. There was no artificial birth control, which
separates the unitive from the procreative purposes of the
sex act. We used Natural Family Planning. There was no invitro-fertilization,
which relies on the principle of killing life to create life.
There was no amniocentesis – no open door to killing
an innocent unborn human.
Incredibly, two years later, we discovered
we were pregnant with another. Like our biblical cohorts,
Elizabeth and Zechariah, we named him --
to Advanced Maternal Age Stories
-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.