Declan: 10 years and counting

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Today, 23 May 2018, my little boy Declan turns 10 years old!! He isn’t so little any more as he is nearly as tall as me now, but to me, he will always be my baby…my hard fought for, miracle, baby.

He is what keeps me going. He is what keeps me looking ahead with hope for any kind of a future. And when I am in a moment of utter despair, it is the thought of Declan that brings me out of it to fight another day.

Ten years ago today, as I held my little 5 pound newborn boy in my arms, my life had been turned upside down only 3 months prior. (Frankly, it’s been in a bit of a spin since.) You see, as a single mother to Brendan Bjorn with a professional career, I made the choice to have another child. As a result of that never regretted choice – as a result of me becoming pregnant against all odds – I lost my job. It wasn’t just a job though; it was a beloved career, a calling even, as a counselor to children in a Catholic School back in the States.

Five months into my very complicated pregnancy with Declan, I was fired for being pregnant and unwed. It apparently didn’t help that I refused to confess remorse to the parish priest like the other pregnant and unwed woman did but who was allowed to keep her teaching job. In retrospect, I think the fact that I missed so many days of work due to Brendan’s needs and appointments was too much for them to tolerate. You can’t fire someone protected under the disability rights laws. You can fire someone for not being *a good Catholic* as the church would so judge.

I was given notice on a Wednesday:
Friday was to be my last day.

I had a meeting with the principle and the parish priest upon my turning in my keys to the school. Did I have any last questions, they asked. Yes, indeed I did. I turned to the priest and asked, “How can you, as a supposed man of God, go to the altar and preach Christ’s teaching of love, compassion, forgiveness, and His love of children, yet fire a pregnant woman with a severely disabled child, leaving them with no income, no means to survive, and no medical insurance?” Needless to say, the priest didn’t like me asking him that question. Nor did he answer. But if looks could send someone to Hell, then I imagine that’s where I’d end up.

I was told I *tarnished the reputation of the parish* and was a *bad example to the children.*

Those words had a very detrimental effect on me. For many months to come, I was too ashamed to even be seen at the area shops, as it was all over the local news and radio: Fired, pregnant, unwed school counselor sues the Catholic Church. (That’s another story for another day.) I suppose those hurtful words still have an effect on me, as just remembering them brings up that sense of anxiety and upset within me.

And all the while, developing inside of me, was this beautiful, loving, compassionate little boy who would grow to be the most extraordinary brother to my angel Brendan Bjorn.

Today, that extraordinary, smart, funny, compassionate boy turns 10 years old! 

To Declan, and to the principal who was a friend and threw me under the bus, and to the priest who knew nothing about Christ’s teachings but certainly was more of a pharisee, I say this: I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING! I would do it all over again.

Declan will receive gifts today, have a party, enjoy pizza and cake and ice cream. Little does he realise, it is me who will receive the best gift of all – the gift of celebrating 10 years of being blessed to be his mother! 

Happy birthday, my special and loving son Declan. I can’t imagine being more proud of you than I already am. I know your life has been filled with countless challenges and far too many sacrifices to Brendan’s needs. I know, and I am so sorry it has been especially difficult for you. I promise you, I will do all I can to see your life be all that it should be. I promise. 

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