So I know what you're thinking, what mother doesn't wish for a healthy baby? That's what every parents wish for right? A healthy baby? You spend your free time thinking of the what ifs, how delicate newborns are; Lets put things into perspective...
You're asked by a distant relative...
"Do you want a boy or girl this time around?" "Oh, we're happy with either!" "Well as long as the baby is healthy, right?"
So this gets me thinking... What if they weren't healthy? I mean really, what if? What if your baby isn't the textbook medical definition of healthy. There's a million what ifs when you are expecting, but really, think about it! Would this change things? How you feel about the baby in particular? My guess is, probably not. Yes, there may be a longer hospital stay, more sleepless nights, more doctors appointments.
So lets put this into perspective. You go through your entire pregnancy being told, "As long as the baby is healthy!", from well meaning relatives and friends. They mean well, of course, that's just become a thing you say without thinking about it. So here you are.. You go to multiple appointments, ultrasounds - Congratulations! Baby looks healthy!
A few months later, you're full term! You anxiously rush to labor and delivery with your birth partner (and doula of course!). Your nurse is putting in your IV and asks, "Is it a little boy or girl?" and you politely reply, "We're letting it be a surprise!", and she says "As long as the baby is healthy, that's all that matters." So hours later, your little miracle is born into this world. But one thing that's unexpected, one thing no one prepared you for.. Your baby isn't textbook, medically classified as "healthy".....
Soon after, your baby is whisked away, tests are done, you are left wondering, is my baby okay? And you're scared. All of a sudden the familiar term, "as long as baby is healthy" sort of goes out the window. So what if, a few days later, your baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome? What if months later, he's diagnosed with a neurological disorder? What if years later, he is diagnosed with childhood Leukemia?
Introducing Dax, my nephew.
You will always love your baby, maybe even more than you thought you would now.. Their health doesn't make your baby less lovable or valuable. You still protect them with every ounce of your being, whether they're healthy or not. You still check on them in the middle of the night (every five minutes) to make sure he's breathing. You haven't failed as a parent because your baby isn't healthy.
He's still your miracle. He's still your baby.
So rewind to the times in your pregnancy when someone said, "As long as baby is healthy". Yeah, you'd look like a real jerk saying back, "Yeah, but what if they aren't?" But it's the truth. A healthy baby does not define your baby. Your baby is not his/her diagnosis. Your baby is still loved.
Even if you yourself end up having a textbook healthy child, stating this overused phrase suggests that everyone else in society who does not has a less desirable child.
So lets make a list of things we can say of instead of, "As long as baby is healthy" - "Your baby will be beautiful no matter what" - "I can't wait to meet him or her" - "You're going to be an amazing mother" - "Your baby is going to be so loved"
When my nephew Dax was diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after birth. It didn't change how we loved him. We were thankful our family was so blessed to be chosen to have him. We were SO thankful he had a healthy heart and a pair of lungs. His parents didn't want sympathy, they didn't want a textbook "healthy baby" anymore. Not all babies are born healthy, but that baby will still be loved. Just like we love Dax.