I had decided that I was going to love this child even if he was handicapped, and accept him as he was. I committed him to the care of the Mother of God.
During the first two years of marriage, my husband and I couldn’t conceive. I was distraught. We were open to children and waited impatiently for the time when they would finally appear in this world.
On 11 June 1987, during the visit of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Jasne Błonia in Szczecin, we both prayed for the gift of motherhood and fatherhood. We received that wonderful grace, and our son was born in February 1988. After a few more years, when our second child was due to come into the world, I contracted a contagious disease – rubella – in the seventh week of pregnancy. I went to the hospital with symptoms of miscarriage. The examination showed the presence of rubella antibodies in my system. They told me about the threat associated with contracting rubella at such an early stage of pregnancy. Because the child’s organs and body parts hadn’t yet formed, he could be born with deformations: he could be deaf and dumb, blind, deaf or with heart defects, and might not survive delivery. I was ready to break down. They proposed that I take advantage of the possibility of having an abortion, but I refused immediately, telling them that I’d rather raise a handicapped child than murder him. The thought of burdening myself with a murder didn’t even cross my mind. I had decided that I was going to love this child even if he was handicapped, and accept him as he was. I committed him to the care of the Mother of God.
They proposed that I take advantage of the possibility of having an abortion, but I refused immediately, telling them that I’d rather raise a handicapped child than murder him
I offered my life and the life of my unborn child to Mary, asking her to intercede for us with God for the grace of guiding us and soliciting for us the necessary strength. After I decided that I would bear the child, the doctors prescribed me the appropriate medicines. I found a good, sensitive female doctor who supported me, emphasised that everything would turn out all right, and added a measure of strength and hope. I think it is very important for a woman expecting a child to be surrounded by caring people whose help she can always count on. Any woman deprived of this support may be inclined to abort, out of fear, especially in a situation when the child is unexpected and unplanned, or when there is the chance of an illness. She will regret it and will suffer all her life. Unfortunately, there were also people in my environment who, out of ill-conceived concern, asked me whether I knew what I was doing. They predicted that if the child was born handicapped, it would be an affliction for it and for us. That shows how inhumane thinking often functions in society – that it is better to kill sick and handicapped people than to let them live. On the contrary, one should surround such a defenceless person with special care! Besides, who gives me the right to decide over the life or death of another person?
My child’s pre-natal development proceeded under the watchful eyes of the doctor, and frequent stays at the hospital. The doctors discovered a defect in the baby’s heart: a minor pulmonary regurgitation. My daughter Alexandra was born in 1997. The delivery went smoothly. Then I found out that, aside from the heart defect, she was a healthy girl. The defect is inoperable. Even healthy mothers sometimes give birth to children with heart defects. The ensuing constant care for the child caused me a lot of stress and pressure. However, throughout that trying time I received the gift of sympathy for other suffering people. While staying with my daughter in the hospital, I learned to empathise with someone else’s suffering. I understood how the gift of self is an enormous and very necessary gesture – it’s the selfless gift of accompanying a person through their suffering.
If my mother hadn’t loved me, and hadn’t accepted me from the moment of my conception, I probably never would have come into the world
Alexandra, the daughter: If my mother hadn’t loved me, and hadn’t accepted me from the moment of my conception, I probably never would have come into the world. I am very grateful to my mother, who accepted me with love even in the face of explicit pressure from others and the prospect of a difficult future with a sick child. She was given a list of numerous illnesses that I might have been born with, but she didn’t give up. Admittedly, after I was born, they found that I had a heart defect that often causes me problems, but I am still happy. Of course, there were times in my life when I couldn’t accept my disability. My heart defect placed certain limitations on me. I asked myself why exactly this had to happen to me… I can’t overexert myself or play any sports. I also have to avoid stressful situations, because I can pass out easily. I also have problems with my eyesight: glaucoma. In spite of all this, I believe that the key to accepting our limitations is trust in the Lord God in every situation. Sometimes, I act as though I were thinking: “God, I don’t trust you completely to do this well, so I’ll do it for You.” Meanwhile, He knows what to do. He gives us what we need so as not to become egotistical. We have to trust God like children. I try not to let my disability limit me, because then I am not permitting God to work His will in me, instead focussing on the fact that I am handicapped, feeling sorry for myself and giving Satan the chance to work his will in me. Satan wants to depress us so that we fall and, for example, may want to commit suicide. God relies on us to build the kind of relationship with Him that we have with our best friend. To be able to do that, we must pray every day – have a conversation with God. God wants us to tell Him how we feel, what our dreams and expectations are and what causes us difficulty, sadness or joy. It’s just like in relationships with people: the other person won’t understand you if you don’t say what you feel, what you’re grateful for, and what you’re sorry for…
Inhumane thinking often functions in society – that it is better to kill sick and handicapped people than to let them live
What is really painful for me is that, in spite of the scientific facts, people contend that a child in its mother’s womb is not a person. They say “embryo’ or “product of conception”. They treat it like something they can destroy at will, or like it’s a disease. Being conscious of what a great gift life is, I have been involved for several years in pro-life activities. I work with Civitas Christiana, a Catholic society. We undertake specific activities with the goal of defending human life and dignity from conception to natural death. We take part in Marches for Life in various European cities (such as Paris, Berlin and Rome). We also sell “little feet”, the profits from which we use to save babies in their mothers’ wombs. We post signs of the Brotherhood of Little Feet, so that understanding about what abortion really is will grow in society. In schools, we talk about how a child’s development proceeds during its pre-natal life. I enthusiastically encourage everyone to join activities that promote the defence of human life.