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Everyone's invited to this baby shower : Wis. Mom opens home to save a child

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WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. (Catholic Herald) - Tears are in Suzanne Nelson's eyes.

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By Amy Gucken
Catholic Herald (
4/16/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Sun is shining through the windows of her Whitefish Bay home. On the couch, her husband Eric of 15 years is playing with their youngest daughter, Margaret Mary, 11 months. Nelson is quietly singing, "I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see," as Christian artist Jeremy Camp plays in the background.

For Nelson, 42, it is the soundtrack for her life.

"God is with me everywhere I go," she said. "I'm aware he's with me. I feel nothing but God's presence in my life. It's not about keeping up with everyone else. I'm going to blaze my own trail. God wants us to help each other. If you're listening, God prepares you for what he wants you to do."

That preparation has led Nelson to become a voice for the unborn.

"It's one thing to say, 'You should do the right thing, you should keep your baby,'" Nelson said. "It's another thing to say, 'I'll help you.'"

Help for these expectant mothers comes in the work Nelson does with Holy Family Parish, Whitefish Bay, and its respect life advocacy and respect life committee, helping to plan a chili dinner, Mother's Day rose sale, ice cream social and baby shower for the unborn. For Nelson, the end to abortion must come through peace and love.

"I don't think God wants us to point our fingers at each other," Nelson said. "We all know it's immoral. We know it's horrible. Why not help (pregnant mothers)? I mean peacefully, lovingly do something. If God is love then we have to lovingly educate one misguided soul at a time."

Support for babies and moms

The January baby shower, the third of its kind hosted at Nelson's home, brought in more than 350 baby outfits, 1,400 diapers and $750 for the Pregnancy Help Center, a Milwaukee organization dedicated to serving women facing unplanned pregnancies. The mother of five dreams of similar baby showers popping up all over the world.

"In my wildest dreams I would love for every brand new mom to ask people to bring an unwrapped gift to be donated to her baby shower," Nelson said. "Imagine that -- a brand new family embodying the Holy Family."

The idea for the showers originated in a Respect Life brainstorming session, as a way to make the pro-life effort fun and positive.

"Everybody loves to buy baby clothes," Nelson said. "Everybody loves to think and celebrate new life. Writing a check is not nearly as fun as gathering with friends and looking at all the adorable baby clothes."

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Nelson is one of many championing the cause of the Pregnancy Help Center through donations, said Pattie Meixelsperger, director of the center on Milwaukee's north side, but she is the first to organize a baby shower of such grandeur.

"Suzanne is sort of the pioneer in that area for us," Meixelsperger said. "I was very, very impressed. We serve a lot of families in the inner city area and depend on people like Suzanne. We have a lot of people who in the community do things like this because their faith asks them to actively participate and live out the Gospel."

Nelson has her own holy family -- Emily, 13, Sarah, 12, Ben, 11, Simon, 7, and Margaret Mary. The former physical therapist changed her career to mommy when Emily came along.

"If you stay united in your family, united in Christ, nothing will break you," Nelson said. "We're not looking for someone else's cues. We use the Bible as our cue."

Living the 'pro-life' life

The guidance Nelson and her husband find in the Bible for their parenting is apparent in the mindset of their children, who also are firmly rooted in all things pro-life.

Whether it be participating in Life Chain or wearing pro-life T-shirts that Eric helped to design for Holy Family School, it all goes to "help little babies" in the words of Simon. For Ben, it is a way to live a pro-life life.

"Some people don't view abortion as a bad thing," Emily said. "It's the woman's choice, right? Catholics don't see it that way. Only problem is, some of us are too afraid to voice opinions. Millions of people have had their lives snatched away before they got their first glimpse of the world. They weren't even given a chance. Our voices can't be silenced as easily.

"As Catholics, it's our duty to let others know that abortion is wrong; one person's life is just as important as the next. We need to protect those who cannot protect themselves. We're lifeguards, and we have the power to end abortion. The first step is having the courage to try."

Sarah agrees.

"Sometimes it scares me to think about what would happen if Jesus were born today in 2008 to a woman less compassionate than Mary," Sarah said. "Nowadays a lot of babies are aborted if they have some sort of disability. If the doctors found something wrong with baby Jesus, would his mother abort him? Life is important. No one has the right to take it away except for God."

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Blessed with a special child

For some families, the arrival of Margaret Mary, or Meggie, last April with Down Syndrome could have turned their world upside down. Some, upon learning of the disability, would have aborted the pregnancy. Instead, the Nelsons compare her birth to boarding a plane for Italy and winding up in Holland. Coincidentally two friends sent the family Emily Perl Kingsley's poem, "Welcome to Holland," after Meggie's birth.

"There's been a change in the flight plan," Nelson quoted from the poem. "They've landed in Holland and there you must stay ... so you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language ... it's just a different place ... but after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

"If you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland."

As a symbol of their change in plans, Eric presented Suzanne with a pair of clogs from Holland last Mother's Day. While statistics show that approximately 90 percent of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down Syndrome are aborted, Suzanne said, Meggie, who will be 1 at the end of the month, is a blessing from God.

"God has given us this child as a reward for following his plan," Nelson said. "The most divine things have happened to us since she's been here."

Whether it be a patch of daisies mysteriously sprouting in their garden (daisy means Margaret in Korean) or knowing everyone in the operating room when Meggie was delivered via C-section, each coincidence for the Nelson family, is God's hand working in their lives.

"It's hard to see it any other way," Eric, an anesthesiologist, said.

"Is it luck or is it God?" Suzanne said. "Some people see it as coincidence. I see it as God's work."


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of the Catholic Herald (,official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wis.

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