I was at the salon the other day, making casual conversation with the hair stylist. She was asking how many kids I have and if I want another. I don’t normally venture into the Emmy story unless I know someone pretty well so I said, in a general way, “I have two kids, and I’d love to have another.”
She responded, “Do you want a boy or a girl? Though, I guess it doesn’t matter, right? As long as it’s healthy.”
That phrase stopped me in my tracks. She kept asking more questions, but I was still on the “as long as it’s healthy” statement, turning it over and over in my mind.
I used to think the same thing. When I was pregnant with both of my girls, I prayed every single night for a healthy baby. That was, in fact, my only wish. I was terrified of having a baby that wasn’t healthy.
And then, five weeks after giving birth to Emmy, we found out that she has Williams syndrome. (They don’t test for Williams syndrome during general pregnancy screenings because it is so rare.) In my mind, my worst nightmare had come true. I wondered what I had done in life to deserve such a thing. I had been a good person, right? It felt like a punishment. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I had done in my past to bring this diagnosis upon my entire family.
Those feelings were so real back then–so painful. And today, I can’t even put myself into that same mindset if I tried. I love this kid so much, and she has brought such incredible joy to my life. The way she crinkles her nose, and gulps down her milk (“glug glug glug”), and reaches for her favorite book, and gets her red shoes when she wants to go outside, and drops her toys into an empty bathtub for us to find later, and giddily throws balls to our dog, and says “Charlotte.” Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the baby that I prayed for.
Really, I can’t imagine that any pregnant woman wishes for an unhealthy baby. So it seems like a natural prayer. Who wouldn’t want a healthy baby?
But let’s look at the other side of that coin. What happens if the baby is unhealthy? Then what? Do we send it back? Do we ask for another? The “as long as it’s healthy” statement doesn’t allow for the other side of that coin.
Because what if it isn’t healthy?
Perhaps, instead of praying for a healthy baby, I should’ve asked “Please give me an open heart to love my child fully, no matter who he/she is” or “Please give me the ability to see how my child fits in perfectly with our family.”
Yes, I’d like to have another baby. At this point, I’m actually much more worried about carrying the baby than I am about who the baby will be.
I, too, was born with a birth defect but, surprisingly, I didn’t find out until I was thirty years old and pregnant for the first time. An ultrasound revealed that I have a bicornuate uterus, which means it’s heart shaped. It sounds lovely, but it can be very problematic. I also have a secondary issue with my uterus which resulted from my first c-section.
So my mind hasn’t even gone down the “I hope it’s healthy” road yet. I’m still wondering if my own body will be able to hold strong.
But if I were to get pregnant again, I hope I won’t obsess about the health of my baby for nine months, as I’ve done twice before.
I’ve learned that health isn’t everything. It’s the whole picture that matters more.
Our Emmy turns two years old tomorrow! I can’t wait to see her opening the mountain of Elmo presents.
I spoiled her this year. She deserves it.
Happy Birthday Emmy!!!
Thank you, Michelle!
Thank you so much for putting your feelings into words…I couldn’t have said it better. I too struggle with the “as long as its healthy” comment. The other one that I struggle with is “but he seems normal.” He IS his own normal, witch is perfect in my eyes!
Oh wow. I haven’t heard that one before, but I’m sure I will!
Norah likes those “Baby Signing Time” videos and every time I hear the “Special to Me” song I get a lump in my throat. “Exactly what I wanted, exactly who you are…I know this is where I was meant to be…” Happy Birthday Emmy! “You are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” There’s your quote filled comment for the day 😉 beautiful post!
Love the quotes! Thank you!
This is beautiful! I worked with a child with Williams Syndrome, I had no idea what the syndrome was until I met him, He had me at hello! He always has the biggest smile, he’s inquisitive and talkative. He has a way about him that makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. That’s a rarity and a gift. Emmy is a wonderful gift just as your post.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thanks for commenting! Williams syndrome is rare, so it’s nice to hear that you met someone who has it! I love hearing that.
My oldest daughter’s best friend has a daughter with William’s. She is just the best mother ever. No one could love this child more than she. Her daughter is a joy, happy, and has far exceeded all predictions they doctors have made for her. Don’t set limitations, she has proven with a mother who pushes her to be “normal” (whatever that is), corrects her and doesn’t let her get away with anything just because she is special, has made her turn into a loving child. My hat’s off to you, you have a child who is healthy. Make no limitations, push her, she will turn out great.
Thanks for sharing, Ellen! I’m so glad to hear that her daughter has surpassed any expectations.
Emmy is right where she was meant to be with such amazing parents!!
Thank you, Debi! 🙂 Hopefully we’ll get to see you soon!
I think if you wish/hope/pray for an unborn baby to be healthy, however you phrase it, you are in effect praying for your child to survive, to thrive, not to suffer, and not to face undue challenges. Surely, you prayed for these same things for Emmy during your and her recent ordeal in the hospital. That didn’t make you love her or respect and treasure her for the individual she is any less. With an unborn baby, you’re just wishing the same things in advance of any crisis, with the blanket hope that all crises will be avoided. That is maternal nature, human nature. You may well have another child, if you safely can, in part to leave Emmy and Charlotte with additional immediate family support when you can no longer be with them in life. If you find yourself wishing during your pregnancy for that child to be healthy, you will in no way dishonor Emmy or demean her condition. You’ll just be wishing for the new baby to survive, to thrive, not to suffer, and not to face undue challenges. Just as you wished for Emmy, both before and after she was born.
I like this perspective, Gail! Thank you!
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