Over the last few months there have been some excellent posts challenging readers to rethink the phrase so many of us throw out in regards to our new babies, “As long as it’s healthy.” I love Kendra’s and Sarah’s posts – they’re challenge notions about life, health and worthiness of it all. These are messages that need to be heard and the stories are, while full of their own struggles and sometimes heartache, beautiful. The children they share about, like so many, are so amazing and happy even though many in this world would pigeonhole them into preconceived notions relating “health” and happiness.
I struggle with this though. As my friends here know we’re experienced two miscarriages in the last year. Around this time last year I had a gut feeling that something was wrong with my second pregnancy. I spent the night before my first ultrasound worrying about things like spina bifida and a whole host of problems I could and couldn’t control. I knew, deep in my soul, that something was wrong, but I wasn’t prepared for the big black hole I saw on the ultrasound screen the next day.
Those things that kept me up that night last May no longer worry me as much, yet I still find myself saying “As long as it’s healthy” when I think of the next time I might see a positive pregnancy test.
When I say this I’m not really talking about health. I think “health” is relative and that you can a have “healthy” baby who happens to have chromosomal, genetic or any other type of health related issue. I don’t mean that I’ll only love and accept a baby who can walk, talk and grow along the most normal of charts. I don’t mean that I’ll only love a child who is statistically more likely to give me grandchildren, live to at least seventy-two years of age or run regular ultra-marathons. I know that the way others perceive my children’s health does not affect my knowledge of their inherent value and dignity just for being the person they are. But, at this point in my life when I say “healthy” I really mean “living”.
There’s no good way to really say “As long as it’s living” to someone who doesn’t know your history, or to whom you don’t want to spill every painful, bloody and emotional detail of your experience. We once tried to joke with a receptionist that we were “Just hoping for human” when asked “What are you hoping for?” and I still believe that women thinks we were cult members. I can’t imagine her reaction to the answer in my heart now “Just hoping for living” or “Just hoping this one is big enough for a physical body so I’ll have at least one picture” or “Just hoping to hold him, just once”.
That’s where I am right now. I can’t figure out a way to answer those questions the way I want. I wish I knew what else to say that could be honest, but not completely vulnerable. I’m not ready to say something altruistic like “He already exists so we’re happy”, not right now. So friends, for now, I’ll stick with “Just hoping for healthy” and I know you’ll understand what I mean.