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Melody was born with Trisomy 18, but has continued to defy odds and today is a thriving, happy four-year-old
Meet Melody, the little girl with Trisomy 18 who is defying all the odds
March 13, 2017 (LiveActionNews) — One of the most terrifying things a parent can be told is that their new child is “incompatible with life.” But for countless parents across the world, that is exactly what they hear upon receiving a diagnosis of Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome. This description persists because Trisomy 18 is known to be associated with life-threatening medical complications; babies that survive pregnancy are practically guaranteed to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But should babies with Trisomy 18 really be described as “incompatible with life”?
Jennifer Thenhaus and her husband Andrew have five children. Their youngest daughter has Trisomy 18. During the pregnancy, they named her Melody after a family friend and because, even before birth, their little girl loved music. She would dance in the womb when their children would play the violin, as well as when she would hear the Eden String Quartet. Throughout the pregnancy, they had no idea she had Trisomy 18.
“In the first ultrasound they saw a small pocket of water on her brain (cyst), which can be a marker for Trisomy 18,” Thenhaus said in an interview with Live Action News. “It was our understanding that if that was the only marker there was almost no chance of Trisomy 18. In the second ultrasound there was mention of the fact that she was small, but nothing too alarming.”
It wasn’t until Melody was born that they began to realize that something was wrong. She did not open her eyes, cry, or move. They waited for doctors to run tests to confirm the diagnosis, but doctors told the family that they believed Melody had Trisomy 18. There was one moment that gave the couple some hope, though. On Melody’s website, they explained that her love for music came through again.
“That evening my husband decided to play music from the Eden String Quartet on his phone. All of a sudden we saw movement in Melody’s little isolette,” Jennifer Thenhaus wrote. “Little toes wiggled, hands moved, and then eyes popped open! The nurse came rushing in exclaiming, ‘What is going on in here?’ Melody’s heart rate had soared. Apparently her hearing wasn’t a problem! This incident was a significant gift from the Lord that gave us a glimmer of hope. It further confirmed that her name fit her perfectly.”
A few days after she was born, the diagnosis was confirmed.
“Three very somber doctors entered our room and got right to the point,” Thenhaus said. “They confirmed that Melody had Trisomy 18. The picture painted was grim. They did give her emergency care in the hospital, but then they sent her home on hospice with no expectation that she would live.”
But the doctors couldn’t have been more wrong.
Today, Melody is a happy, thriving four-year-old girl who is very much loved by her family. And daily life with her is much more normal than people might expect.
“We homeschool, so Melody’s siblings are at home and able to spend time with her, read her books, help feed her, help with her exercises, etc.; all the kids genuinely enjoy playing with Melody,” Thenhaus explained. “Our morning starts preparing her food and feeding her. After that she plays on the floor, sits on our laps, reads books, does her exercises. She eats a couple more meals before dinner, as well having an afternoon nap. We have a lot of family time in the evening. We eat dinner together, and she joins us at the table in her little booster chair. Then we do family devotions. She usually sits on someone’s lap during that time or plays on the floor. Then we have ‘talk time’. During that time my husband reads to our son, while the girls pile on our bed and we talk, laugh, tell stories, etc. Melody loves that time. Then she goes to bed.”
Medically, Melody is also doing extremely well. So far in her life, she has not had to have any surgeries, does not have to take any medications, and is not dependent on medical equipment for daily use. She has had some health issues — notably, severe sleep apnea and scoliosis.
“For the first two years of her life she could have died every time she went to sleep,” Thenhaus said. But with the help of medical experts, Melody does not appear to have sleep apnea anymore, and her spine is almost straight. She can now sit up and stand with support. And her parents say that her cognitive capacity is constantly increasing. And it’s all because of physicians who have been willing to think outside-the-box.
“It is entirely absurd to label them ‘incompatible with life’,” Jennifer said of children with Trisomy 18. “They are certainly more vulnerable, more delicate. As parents, we have had to seek the Lord for wisdom at every turn with Melody. Yet He has been faithful to direct our steps.”
Labeling babies with Trisomy 18 as “incompatible with life” is extremely problematic.
“We are sensitive to the fact that many of these children will have challenges that do not allow them to live very long. Yet when they are labeled ‘incompatible with life’, tragic results ensue, and these little ones are robbed of the opportunity to have any hope of living,” Thenhaus said. “The first danger is the propensity for the medical community to pressure for abortion. The picture painted for a baby in the womb with Trisomy 18 is grim and horrific. Sometimes I wonder if these parents feel like they have an alien in the womb. It dehumanizes these little ones. They are precious little babies who need love and tender care like any other child. They will need more support, and they will be more fragile. Yet, they need us to ‘take their hand, not their life’.”
In addition to dehumanizing these babies, Jennifer also pointed out that labeling them as “incompatible with life” can lead to a denial of basic medical care.
“Medical practitioners throw in the towel and don’t try to help these children,” she said. “If a child is labeled ‘incompatible with life’, then there is no point in making any effort. Sometimes these babies simply need a little oxygen and a C-PAP. It is not uncommon for them to be denied these basic things.”
And ultimately, while Melody does need more care than typical children do, she is still a vital member of the Thenhaus family and has enriched their lives for the better.
“We all love having Melody as part of our family and have grown and learned so much. Melody’s life has certainly brought trials, heartache, grief, and many tears, particularly for the first year and a half. Melody definitely requires more time to care for than most children. Yet we rejoice in seeing all that God has done in our lives through little Melody. She is a blessing beyond compare,” Thenhaus said. “At this point, Melody’s health is excellent. It is impossible to know what will take her. She is still more vulnerable than our other children, but we rejoice in her current strength and good health. Obviously none of us knows what a day may hold. Yet, we rejoice in each treasured day that we have with our sweet girl.”
Reprinted with permission from Live Action News.
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Pro-abortion speaker at Vatican conference: Pope has ‘done more’ for global warming movement than anyone
VATICAN, March 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The father of the population control movement, Paul Ehrlich, told a Vatican conference that he thinks Pope Francis is « the person in the world [who] has done more » than others to « initiate work » to fight climate change.
Ehrlich was a speaker at the Biological Extinction conference, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Pro-life Catholics expressed concern over Ehrlich being invited to present. He holds many views contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching, including support for forced abortion and sterilization.
Ehrlich has made inflammatory statements about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church being a force of « evil. » He has compared human babies to garbage, called opposition to contraception a « dangerous trend » of religious « endarkenment, » and advocated for free contraception and abortions.
He has previously said Pope Francis is « dead wrong » for not promoting population control as a solution to environmental problems. Ehrlich also criticized Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ for not endorsing population control. (A full list of the troubling things Ehrlich has said is available here. Other LifeSiteNews reporting on Ehrlich and his views can be read here and here.)
« I’m pleased to say that one of the best statements on the ethical issues [of environmentalism] came from Pope Francis. If I can quote from Laudato Si’ … ‘Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence nor convey their message to us. We have no such right,’ » said Ehrlich. « And I would say, ‘Amen.’ »
Later in his talk, Ehrlich said, « We have been overusing the atmosphere as a sink for greenhouse gases. And there, I have to say, the person in the world has done more to initiate work to get it changed has been Pope Francis. It’s one of the biggest threats [that] humanity faces and I think his coming out on it was maybe the most important single thing that anybody has done so far to move in the right direction on climate change. »
The person who « has probably done more on the other side than any human being » is Rex Tillerson, America’s new Secretary of State, Ehrlich said. This is because « when he was head of Exxon, he financed the entire program of lying about climate disruption that has been so successful in North America, » Ehrlich said.
« I think it is so incredibly important, » Ehrlich said of his « little commercial » plugging Pope Francis and criticizing Tillerson.
‘We really need very fundamental changes in our attitudes, our ethics, our morals, how we run the world’
Ehrlich took the position that, « You’re not being addressed by me. You’re being addressed by a combination of a whole lot of mammal cells and a whole lot of bacterial cells. »
Ehrlich suggested that the planet’s population growth needs to be stifled in order for it to thrive and in order for biodiversity to persist. He also suggested fundamentally changing « how we run the world » so that there can be more equity. Starting in middle school, children should be tasked with addressing these problems, he said.
« The biggest problem we face is continual expansion of the human enterprise, » he said. « I would love to see hundreds of trillions of human beings live over the next few million years rather than see if we can cram 11 billion in by … 2110, uh and then let the whole thing go down the drain. Sustainability is talked about a lot, but a lot of people talk about things like sustainable growth. Perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell, and we really have to look at the size of the human enterprise and think about why we’re doing these things. »
Because there « are parts of our natural capital that are not priced … individuals can get huge benefits without paying the social costs of what they’re doing, » Ehrlich said. The world’s current « pricing system does not allow us to really properly consider – the way we run it at least – the externalities. »
For example, « if you paint your house, you add to the value to your neighbors’ houses, » he explained. Or, « if you let your lawn grow too high, you subtract from the value of your neighbors’ houses and you don’t pay those prices. »
And we all put those greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and when you get a drought in Africa because of it, the African – poor Africans – are not paying for it. And I should say, I want to be very clear on one point … Actually, there’s this terrible feeling in the United States and many places that the problems of the world are the poor people. It’s those poor Africans that breed too much, uhh, they uh – they kill the bush meat … on and on, it’s somebody else – the big population and the big problems of the combination of population per capita consumption – it’s the aggregate consumption that ruins the environment. Of course, it’s the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, all those wonderful places, that have gotten the poor countries to pay the price. So if you think about what we have to do, what we among other things – we have to make sure that we get some equity in the world. That poor people get taken care of. You … think of poor people living in the slums of India or the slums of Africa – I live in one of the richest towns in the world: Palo Alto, California. And I carry bills in my pocket because there are people begging on the streets there. And somebody said it here I think already, but if you can’t even – maybe it was Peter – if you can’t take care of the people in your own society, when you live in a rich society, and so on, it tells us we really need very fundamental changes in our attitudes, our ethics, our morals, how we run the world.
Ehrlich finished on a « not cheery » note about « societal collapse. » He said people should consider « not just how you soften the collapse, and we hope by discussing that, we might even avoid the full collapse – but what do you do afterwards? »
« I hate to hear the term, you know we restore, or we rebuild, » said Ehrlich. « If you rebuild the kinda system we have today, all you’re doing is guaranteeing another collapse. In other words, the issue … to think about [is] how you design a world that is actually sustainable and has insurance built into it and sees to it that everybody is treated as properly as they possibly can be treated. »
« I think that’s a challenge for the kids, » he concluded. « I’d like to see everybody working on it starting in junior high school. How would you design, for instance, a money system for economics classes? As you all know, fractional reserve banking is how you generate your money and it absolutely requires growth. So how do you build a system that doesn’t have to grow forever? »
Experts with ‘Catholic views’ weren’t invited
A pro-life population and demography expert, Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute, told LifeSiteNews the Vatican shouldn’t be surprised at what its invited speakers said at the conference.
« This is what you get if you invite secular humanists to speak at a Catholic conference, » said Mosher. « You get a secular humanist perspective, which is to say, if you think that human beings – men – are nothing but animals, then it’s perfectly alright to thin the herd on the pretense that there’s not enough in the way of resources to support the existing herd. »
Mosher blasted the Population Council’s John Bongaarts for saying there is an « unmet need » for contraception during his talk at the Biological Extinction conference. He also criticized comments the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, made about procreation and fertility at the conference.
« This is the Pontifical Academy of Science, and we worship someone who is the truth Himself, » Mosher told LifeSiteNews. « And so I think we have to be very careful to avoid being overly swayed by worldly views … we have to maintain a Trinitarian worldview. And it’s difficult in some of the sciences, because the sciences are dominated by people … who don’t believe in a creator. But nonetheless, if you’re going to come together to discuss these issues, you [have to] do it from a Trinitarian point of view » and the viewpoint « of true science, » not ideology or « money-driven science. »
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This conference « takes us very far away from the views of both Pope John Paul II and the views of Pope Benedict, » said Mosher.
Pope Benedict said « that we must never forget that man is at the center of the environment, and if we’re protecting the environment we must protect men, » explained Mosher. « Where in that formulation can you have people come forward and argue that the population of the Earth should be rapidly reduced? »
« You hear these things at Stanford University, where I was and where I taught human biology for a time, » continued Mosher. « You hear them at Berkeley, you hear them at Harvard, you hear them at Yale. You do not expect to hear them in the Vatican at a conference convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. »
He said it’s « disturbing » to think about being unable to « differentiate » comments uttered at a Vatican conference « from a seminar at Stanford. »
« The light show on St. Peter’s façade was revolting enough, but to allow people who believe in this false gospel of radical environmentalism and radical population control and express … these ideas without being contradicted, without any hint of dispute, to have the Vatican itself provide a forum to propagate these falsehoods, it’s just – I mean I’m rarely lost for words, but words fail me, » he said. « I had a chance in South Africa to debate Paul Ehrlich years ago and he refused. I would have [been] delighted at the opportunity to debate at this forum in the Vatican, but I, and people with views like mine – which are to say, Catholic views, Trinitarian views – were not invited and I find that staggering as well. »
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