Opinion: Just Sayin'... The Difference is Everything

January 26, 2012   Opinion

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The Leader | Original Link


"The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws."
-Barbara Kingsolver

A couple I know has had a baby who was born with severe Spina bifida. In his earliest weeks, there were surgeries to close the opening on his spine. Surgeons had to be creative.

Yet their lives, utterly changed forever, roll along. They rejoice in an ounce or two of weight gain, a small smile.

Another couple I know recently had a baby born with different, but no less life-threatening problems. Just as in the TV series, House, there are plenty of clues and symptoms; but the root cause seems to elude everyone. No easy solutions after 50 minutes in this real-life drama, however. No commercial breaks. No switching the channel.

Sanctity of Life Sunday had a new twist for a couple in Los Angeles. They brought their baby girl home. Born by Caesarean birth at the gestational age of twenty-four weeks (full term is forty) Melinda Star Guido survived, even though she was just nine and a half ounces at birth. That’s roughly similar to the weight of a cup and a half of flour. The odds were overwhelming. Only 10 percent of these babies live, many with handicaps.


In seeing the day-to-day trials of tiny IVs, tests, frightening procedures, and terrifying potential diagnoses and prognoses being leveled at these tiny lives, I am struck by this: The exorbitantly expensive machines, measures, medicines, medical specialists, travel and monumental effort is being put forth for this one diminutive human being who has virtually unknown potential.

Literally hundreds of family and friends are praying and keenly following every aspect of each of these newborn’s lives. Several teams of doctors have gone home at night problem solving to determine just what can give this baby a fighting chance.

Contrast this with parents who choose to end their babies' lives through abortion. What makes the difference? Why are some willing to go to the end of their resources to preserve this small person? Why do some give up so easily? (Surely, the sheer number of over a million a year says something about that?)

One argument might be that some people have good jobs with provided health care. Yet the highest percentage of abortions (38 percent) in America is in the $30,000 to $60,000 income bracket.

Melinda Guido’s parents do not fall into this category. The father is a cashier at a restaurant, and the mother is a cook. They are insured by Medi-Cal, California's public insurance program for the poor. Some shuffling will have to be done, either one will have to stay home to care for the baby, or it will need to be provided, diminishing income at the very least. Inconvenience? I doubt this baby’s mother would consider it that.

Melinda Guido’s mother was quoted as saying, "I’m just happy she’s doing well. I’m happy I’m finally going to take her home ... I’m just grateful." The young mothers I know express it differently; one seems full of bravado, the other expresses how painful it is to see your child so utterly helpless and in pain.

The common denominators in all these cases are, first of all, love; but also hope, or as they would say it: faith. We live in a world where the spiritual dimension of man is ignored or discounted, but in places like neonatal intensive care units, faith is not just real, it is crucial. The dramatic struggle is endured and even pursued because of love for a child; it has the faith to dare to believe that while there is life, there is hope.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
–Mother Theresa of Calcutta