Before she married, Carole Tessier, then serving as a campus minister, fell in love with the mission and the vision of Dr. John Bruchalski and his pro-life creation, Tepeyac OB/GYN. Hearing him speak at a public event, she told herself he would be the doctor she would turn to for care if she were to marry and have children. And then it all came true. Baby after baby of Carole’s was delivered by Tepeyac doctors—caregivers she knew she could trust to share and support her views on the sanctity of life. When she found herself pregnant with the child who would be baptized Eva, Carole was already forty years old and the mother of eight. She and her husband, Rob, had found an attractive, manageable plot of rural acreage and had moved the tribe onto it to farm, to enjoy, and to transform into a home. Neither planned for nor stringently guarded against, this most recent “tiebreaker” pregnancy would unbalance the perfect proportion of four each male and female Tessier offspring.
The physical, mental, and emotional changes of her pregnancies were an old story to Carole and Rob. Other than the need to turn the baby when it was discovered that Eva was in the breech position, there was nothing particularly different about this ninth pregnancy. Refusing such prenatal testing as amniocentesis, since her child would be given its chance at life regardless of its prenatal diagnosis, Carole continued entrusting her care to Tepeyac doctors and staff.
Labor for the birth of each little Tessier had been protracted. Figuring that by now she had the birthing routine well and truly in hand, Carole wasn’t really alarmed when, after the onset of unusually intense contractions signaling Eva’s arrival, Dr. Fisk told her to go and walk around a bit more. When greater intensity developed, she promptly delivered. The baby girl she produced earned high APGAR scores but, at first glance, didn’t seem greatly to resemble her siblings.
Closer examination revealed that the newborn was displaying at least two of the markers for Down Syndrome. Flashing through Carole’s consciousness came recollections of having visited with a couple at church several weeks before who were rearing their Down Syndrome child, of having wondered at her own unfailing attraction to such children, and of having asked herself more than once “Will we ever be given a child like this?” Among the various attending doctors and nurses, including Tepeyac’s Dr. Fisk, who delivered the baby, no one had said the words. For a good while to come, no one would.
Realization of little Eva’s condition came to Carole and Rob there in the hospital room. As they held each other in silence, mixed feelings warred with each other—fear at the prospect of the lifelong rearing task that lay ahead of them, gratitude for the tender, supportive care received from Tepeyac, and humility at having been chosen to rear one of the most precious and vulnerable of God’s creations. Then Rob squared his shoulders and turned to his wife. “Let’s do this!” he declared with a strength and firmness he had never before been called upon to display.
And so they did. “Now,” Carole says, “We’d be cheering throughout the delivery [of our Down Syndrome child] instead of fearing that we might not be equal to the parenting task. We’ve moved from accepting to embracing what God has given us in her.”
The support from Tepeyac had been there from the beginning and was with them now as they faced the prospect of notifying their other children, family members, and friends of Eva’s birth and condition. Within the hospital, Dr. Bruchalski was quick to deal with the quasi-sympathetic speculation from a young intern “Was it maternal age that accounts for the Down Syndrome in that child?” “No.” Having taken the opportunity to know the couple well over a period of years, Tepeyac personnel and staff accepted with no surprise the Tessiers’ willingness and competence to embrace the rearing of a Down Syndrome child with complete composure.
Today, little Eva Tessier is three years old, as muscular, active and alert as a pint-sized gymnast. When her mother speaks of her, of the family, of the gift that Eva has been to all of them, her pretty face is animated, glowing, lit from within by her earnestness and enthusiasm for the topic. In her salute to Tepeyac’s supporting role in the Tessiers’ ongoing commitment to life, she’s no less articulate. “It’s such a haven,” she affirms, “All the doctors are so inspiring, so reliable, so trustworthy. Tepeyac is such a light in the world!”