“As long as it’s healthy, right?”
I’m not nosey or anything, but I do like to listen to what people say (most of the time) because I hear some interesting things. For example, I hear most of the same lines when someone questions a pregnant woman and I’ve been told the same lines.
“Do you know what you’re having?”
Response: “Don’t know yet.”
“Well, as long as the baby is healthy that’s what counts, right?”
That didn’t mean too much to me until I already had two children who were not exactly “healthy.” They were born with disabilities. After that, I always had a bad feeling when people said, “as long as the baby’s healthy, right?” to me or to anyone else. What if the baby wasn’t healthy? Then what? How is the mother supposed to feel? Is she any less pregnant? Should she be any less happy? Is the child any less valuable?
When I was pregnant with my third child, people who knew me and knew that I had two daughters with disabilities did not give me that line of “As long as the baby is healthy.” Some were uneasy; they knew that I had the chance of having another child with a disability. They knew that besides blindness, my children had been somehow affected by autism, learning disorders, and a seizure disorder. Some asked if I thought this third baby would have a disability. I answered that only God knew. To strangers who would say that line, I would say, “Well healthy or not, I’m happy for the baby.” And some people had a perplexed look but no response.
People are supposed to want healthy, perfect babies, right? If not, there is genetic testing then pressuring to “terminate the pregnancy” and “try again” for a healthy baby. That is why about 90% of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted. I remember after having my first daughter who is legally blind because she had bilateral congenital cataracts, I read about a couple who aborted two subsequent babies because their first child had bilateral cataracts. I was surprised and even wondered how they knew because I didn’t know of any tests to test for that. And I never found out with my two other children because I did not want to know about such tests.
So when I gave birth to my son, I had a dilemna. How was I to feel if he indeed did have a disability? I had been down this road twice before. My first thought was that I did not want him to have the cataracts or anything that would require the risk of surgery under anesthesia. I’m always stressed as my children undergo the several hours worth of surgery under anesthesia but each of the times (14 + in total) they’ve been thankfully well. I thought if my son did need sugery, I would pray that he would go through the surgeries well because that was all I could do. And another thing I could do was love him just the way he was, just the way the Lord made him.
I pondered on these things a lot while the specialist took my son on his second day on this earth to test him. And I pondered more when she returned him and told me the news. I looked at him and touched his soft hair. He had no idea that he would be going through surgeries and constant appointments for a while. He was not the “healthy” baby. But he was beautiful just as my girls were and has shown me what love really is. I was so happy and still am very happy and blessed to have him and my daughters. And I am so thankful to God that I didn’t listen to the health care provider who had wanted me to make the choice to abort him because my “hands are already full” with two other children with disabilities.
Of course there are trials. Nothing is easy in this life. But the unconditional love that they show me is my reward for loving them too. I always wanted to be a mother and mothering my three children has been and will always be the greatest joy of my life.
And here’s a revelation: There is no perfect baby in society’s terms. The perfect baby is the one that God has given to us to care for and love.