How One Mother’s and Family’s Decision for Life Affected Many Lives
One pregnant mother's and family’s pro-life choice led to answered prayers and continues to touch the lives of many others
On July 13, 2015, Christina Frye was 15 weeks pregnant when she returned a phone call left for her from her Ob/Gyn’s office. Christina had taken a prenatal screening test that checks for chromosomal abnormalities in the baby.
“My doctor told me that our results from the prenatal test were in and that it showed an increased risk of Trisomy 21, associated with Down syndrome,” Christina well remembers. Her heart was pounding as she heard the news. The doctor repeated the results. They showed she and husband James’s “son had a 9 in 10 ‘risk’ of Down syndrome.”
The couple had taken the non-invasive prenatal screening test as part of a hospital study since it would tell the sex of the baby earlier than usual, and it was free.
After the results, the doctor’s office set up an appointment the same day for the Fryes to meet with a genetic counselor, Christina said, “where we were offered an abortion.”
The woman counselor told the couple they had “options.”
“Knowing she meant an abortion, Christina who describes herself as “usually quiet, respectful and reserved,” explains she “all but yelled at the poor woman and said “NO! The only option ever is to have this baby.”
“We adamantly refused abortion and I demanded she not dare mention the word again, and we declined further testing as amniocentesis carries a miscarriage risk.
“The genetic counselor said the test had 97% accuracy. When I asked her if she’s basically telling me that our son had Down syndrome she responded ‘Yes.’ We were told of many scary conditions he could face and were scheduled for an ultrasound scan at 20 weeks.”
Christina describes how, “While Catholic, I used to consider myself to be ‘pro-choice.’ And after all of this, I searched online to learn what abortion entailed. After learning the horrors of abortion and how the greater majority of babies who have screenings indicating Down syndrome or other conditions are horrifyingly aborted, we are staunchly and irreversibly pro-life.”
The Fryes declined an amniocentesis test because it presents a miscarriage risk. They did agree to a noninvasive Level II ultrasound at 20 weeks, another way to check for possible Down syndrome markers in the baby.
There in the office she felt “hopeless, afraid and distraught” that their baby might face serious health problems and challenges.
Gripping James’s hand tightly, she asked her mother Linda who had come with them to this meeting, “Mom, what do we do?” Her answer? “Pray.”
The counselor then also said she would offer prayers for them.
The family spent the rest of the day praying, begging God for a miracle for the baby, who they now knew was a boy — “Our Joseph, named after my husband’s grandfather and St. Joseph, protector of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary — While we are not deserving, this beautiful baby that was snuggling in my womb, unaware of what we were experiencing, deserved a miracle,” Christina said.
Christina picked up the story:
“We prayed so fervently because when the abortion was offered at the appointment with the genetic counselor, we were told of many frightening health conditions that he could face as a result of having Down syndrome.
“We prayed and prayed and prayed. We started to pray the Rosary, which we still do now. We submitted all prayer requests online and we got closer to each other and to God. At the 20-week pregnancy ultrasound I remember praying the Rosary while lying on the table and begging all of the saints in Heaven to join us in praying for our son. I prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary would intercede and ask all the saints to do so as well. We threw ourselves at the Mercy of our Lord. I believe and felt that the ultrasound room was full that day with the saints.”
The Miraculous Medal Christina wore was a constant reminder of the prayers. “I begged God to give my son this great miracle. I remember feeling the strong need to fall to my knees and pray for the majority of my pregnancy.”
What happened at the 20-weeks scan? Christina remembers how it showed Joseph was developing as he should. “At one point, he stuck his hand up as if he was saying ‘Hi! I’m okay, don’t worry!’”
Then near the third trimester his growth slowed considerably and he was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction. “Through all of this we prayed constantly,” she said, and also often felt the urge to fall to her knees in prayer…silently, alone with the Lord and my son in my womb.”
On December 31, at 1:15 pm, “Our son was born,” Christina beams. “Without Down syndrome. A blood test later revealed this fact. He was 5 pounds, 15 ounces. Small but mighty.”
There’s more to the story too, for the Fryes and 4-year-old Joseph.
Christina remembers back on July 13, 2017 — exactly two years to the date from that initially devastating call from the doctor and meeting with the genetic counselor — how she knelt and prayed before her “most treasured item — the Blessed Virgin Mary holding Jesus in the portrait titled Madonna of the Streets, which belonged to my Nonna,” she said. She “thanked God, Jesus and our Blessed Virgin Mary for our beautiful, rambunctious toddler who was napping in his room, recharging for more play and fun when he awoke from his nap. The miracle is not that our son does not have Down syndrome, it is that he is alive and healthy.”
Christina well remembers that July 13 because it also marked the start of her 33-day consecration to Jesus through Mary — which, she said, “until now was stained as a date of sadness and fear. Now, it will be forever remembered as a day of faith, hope and love.”
Today, “Our sweet boy is now a big brother to a beautiful little sister, Sofia,” Christina noted with great joy, as she also emphasized, “I’d like to make clear that we would have loved and cherished our boy as we do now even if he had Down syndrome.”
The story continues because after her experience, Christina went on to found Catholic Mom Rhode Island (CatholicMomRI.com) to bring Catholic mothers together in a variety of areas that can come under the pro-life banner.
She also became a board member of Servants of Christ for Life, a pro-life organization in Rhode Island that works with both the Christian-based Mother of Life Center, a crisis pregnancy center in Providence, Rhode Island, for pregnant teens and women, and with Little Flower Home, a Catholic non-profit home, not shelter, which provides safe and temporary residences and social services for homeless pregnant mothers and their children and helps them get into a permanent living situation.
Christina shared one more highpoint among many in the story. On Oct. 1, 2017, the family bought roses after Mass to benefit that Mother of Life Center. “Later that same day,” she explained, “we venerated the relics of St. Padre Pio and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation at another church — our son’s favorite Saint is Saint Padre Pio. It was a very moving and blessed experience that left us all in tears of joy and thanksgiving. And the day prior, we attended our very first Buddy Walk for Down syndrome awareness and advocacy.”
Truly, pro-life and prayer are partners, ever flourishing and growing.