Martha Beck tells the wondrous story of when she was pregnant with her second child, Adam. Martha had severe illness with all of her pregnancies so that part was not wondrous at all, plagued with nausea for 8 months while enduring a stressful work situation. Martha and her husband, while fully immersed in the prestigious, controlling, high-achieving, and competitive atmosphere of Harvard, find out that the child she is carrying is Down Syndrome. Some people in their community tell them to abort this ‘less than perfect’ fetus, while a few others are supportive and compassionate. But something, some surprising unaccountable force, keeps telling them that they should keep him. Though both Martha and John are down to earth and not exceptionally religious, it is as if some surge of destiny is compelling them to believe in a miracle that everything will be ok. Whether you believe it or not, is not at issue. It is her story and she tells it well.
Martha’s memoir is heart-felt and laugh-out-loud funny but mostly, drives home a powerful message of unconditional love. Who in this world can ever claim to be perfect? And since when do good things come from perfection? Our lives are messy and in the midst of the mess, extraordinary love can happen.
This book captivated me so completely that I couldn’t put it down. Martha’s witty style is so real, affirming, and uplifting except for her unfortunate use of the R-word, which I found jarring. The book was written in 1999, so perhaps it was still ok to use the term then. Other than that, I found it quite relevant 17 years later and utterly spot on.