Happy Birthday Bella!



Elizabeth Santorum at Hot Air reminds us that the Santorum household has a double reason to celebrate today:

Sunday is an important day in the Santorum house. On May 13th, we’ll be celebrating a birthday. My little sister, Bella, is turning four. As some of you can imagine, having seven kids in my family, we do a lot of birthday parties. Various sweets, party hats, and re-used gift bags are always floating around the house, waiting to be used in the next celebration. Our house is a happy one, full of life. That being said, Bella’s birthday is always uniquely joyful and the cause of grateful reflection. I say this because every year with Bella is a gift. Bella was born with a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18. Of the 10% of babies with Trisomy 18 who survive birth, 90% won’t make it to their first birthday. When she was born, the prognosis was bleak. The odds were simply stacked against her.


Ten days after she was born, Bella came home from the hospital. As doctors explained to us how to best prepare for her death, we chose to celebrate her life. And we did, every, single day. I remember when we first brought Bella home; we hung a sign in our living room. It read, “Happy 1-Week Birthday Bella.” As the weeks went by, we changed the sign from 1 to 2 to 3 weeks. Eventually weeks turned into months and now, thanks be to God, years. We fought for her each step of the way, giving her every opportunity to do well. She beat the odds and has been doing so ever since.


As I reflect on this last year of her life, it has been amazing to see how many people Bella has touched and the issues that have been discussed in the public sphere as a result of her condition. In the middle of winter, when the world found out that Bella had been hospitalized, the response was overwhelming. Our inboxes and mailboxes were flooded with notes of encouragement, prayer, and support. People in all walks of life from around the country united around the witness of a three-year-old little girl. We even got notes that said, “I don’t agree with you politically, but thank you for being a voice for the special needs community.” She brought unity and refocused us on what was really important in the midst of a heated primary season.

Go here to read the heartwarming rest.  Love does not prevent us from encountering difficulties, hardships and tragedies in this life, but it does give us the strength to surmount them.  Love, and the courage and strength that it brings, is what Mother’s Day is truly all about.


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  1. Naturally Bella was born on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima! She is such an inspiration to our family who have been blessed with our daughter Christina, age 10 who has Down syndrome. Rick was kind enough to allow me to use his essay written on the occasion of Bella’s second birthday, “Two Years Worth Every Tear” in my book, “A Special Mother is Born” a collection of 34 stories from Catholic parents of special needs children.

  2. Mary, God does not want unconditional love because the only way you can love him is by loving him above all things because he is all good, all powerful, and all knowing and he is our Creator so any true love for God is both required by us but also completely righteous.

  3. I believe that people who are retarded are saints because of their goodwill despite the hard time they have figuring out what is going on.

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