"The most important thing is that this baby is healthy" or "As long as this baby is healthy NOTHING else matters."
I can't tell you how many times I have heard these phrases used. Pregnant friends and non friends alike- these seem to be catch phrases for almost every soon-to-be mama.
Before Addison, this phrase meant nothing to me- except for the fact that "healthy" was truly code for "nothing wrong." After all, a baby could get a prenatal diagnosis of an abnormality and yet still be completely healthy. But there was no neat and tidy way to wrap up this sentiment, so "healthy" was just widely considered to do the trick.
After I went in for Addison's 20 week scan and had my world shaken, every time I heard these phrases it seemed almost like a personal attack.
I translated it as "As long as this baby is NOTHING LIKE DEANNA'S BABY, nothing else matters" or "The most important thing is that this baby is NOTHING LIKE DEANNA'S BABY."
Especially in that first year of Addison's life when I was still hurting, still processing, still feeling robbed from an experience I thought was to be mine. I would see someone say something about just "being thankful that the baby is HEALTHY!" and feel like it was a knife to my chest. Surely they were spitting that in the face of me and my baby who was still immobile and on oxygen long past the point she should have been crawling.
As I have grown past the rawness of that time, I realize how ridiculous my old translation sounds- making someone else's joy over their unborn child somehow all about me. I was viewing everyone else's experiences through the hurt of my own, and I am happy to say that I have moved on from the offense that I used to feel over these innocent statements.
Even though my baby was considered by the most liberal of terms to be extremely unhealthy- both in diagnosis and in actual health, I have grown into a joy and contentment with that being our path. So even though the initial memory of that time holds great hurt, my daughter's actual diagnosis has just slipped quietly into our normal, providing a life nothing like the painful one I was envisioning.
That being said, I know from personal experience that health in a new baby is NOT the most important thing. Life is. I have experienced an unhealthy baby. I have watched my sister lose her newborn. The two can't even compare. I still had a baby to love- even though I had to learn a new way to love her. My sister was left with nothing but a broken heart.
Even as I type this out- I know that perhaps people are really meaning "The most important thing is that this baby is healthy enough to live." Who really knows. I know I am done trying to figure out what people mean when they say this- as they are the only ones who truly know their hearts.
So now we get to the point of this post- why have these phrases been on my mind a lot lately? Because here I am- pregnant with baby #3. And when I went in for the halfway scan a few weeks ago, all I could think about was Addison's 20 week scan and all of the anguish that accompanied it. Something about the experience of finding out gender and checking for soft markers, etc- catapulted me back four years ago when I was a first time mom.
Naive, excited, worried about nothing beyond two things- gender and was I getting to fat too fast? Sure, I knew the things that "could" happen. But they would NEVER happen to ME.
But then they did. I was that 1 in 1400.
And today I am beyond thankful that I drew the lucky card because that brought me my perfect daughter Addison, but when I was lying on the table waiting to hear all about baby #3 all I could think about was the million different ways this could go wrong. Ways that are much more difficult to deal with than Down syndrome. Ways that could end in the death of my baby before I can even say hello, or perhaps immediately after I say hello. Ways that could earn me a new category of special parenting that I know nothing about. Ways that mean another year or ten of surgeries.
And I was thinking- if there is even the tiniest percentage chance of it happening- it will probably happen to me.
But as I felt my mind mulling over the desire for a "healthy" baby, I felt like the biggest hypocrite alive.
As a special needs mom, aren't I supposed to declare that I can handle ANYTHING? Aren't I supposed to say that I have one child with special needs, nothing in that ultrasound could scare me?
But it did.
And when I came back here to the blog to announce that we were having a boy and that there were no concerns, I felt like I needed to somehow explain my happiness over this. But I couldn't really put it into words.
I have a child with special needs. I love her so fiercely it hurts. Her diagnosis is included in this love because it is part of who she is.
I am pregnant with a baby boy who I know nothing about. I love him so fiercely it hurts. Whatever diagnosis' he might carry is included in this love because it is a part of who he is.
But that unknown factor? Still scares me. And I think that's OK to admit.
Of course Carter? I really know nothing about his future either. And that terrifies me just as much as the future of the other two.
Parenthood is so completely out of my control, and as a control freak that drives me CRAZY. As I watch my belly grow day by day and I wonder about the little person inside, I hate that I can't control this little boy's life to be easy breezy and wonderful every step of the way.
I feel the kicks and I think about what kind of person he will be. I wonder how he will fit in with his siblings and what color his hair will be? Will he be a happy child? Moody? Will he finally be my first cuddly baby...or am I due Ironing Board Hugger #3? I wish there was a prenatal way to tell me every single thing about him NOW.
But special needs parenting has taught me that it is OK to not be in control and know EVERYTHING about my children's lives right now. Because someone much bigger is in control and knows every single detail before they happen.. And His plan is always better than what I think I want for myself and my family.
Surprises may initially seem bad. Surprises may be initially painful. But surprises in parenting I believe are sovereignly ordained by someone who is never surprised and who truly wishes good for us. The journey of uncovering those surprises one by one? That's life.
"As long as this baby is healthy, nothing else matters." WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MEAN?
I think perhaps each of us would define that phrase differently. It carries a lot of weight for some- it is just words for others. For me? It's a reminder to trust. Trust that the person who created my baby has a bigger plan than what I can see. Trust that even if that baby's life doesn't last as long as I think it should that there is still a bigger plan even when it only appears to be grossly unfair and wrong. Trust that any sort of difficulties that might be in this baby's life- that is all part of a perfect design that I am blessed to be a part of.
So as I have finished another 20 week ultrasound, I marvel in the gift growing inside of me, and I look forward to meeting him- even though there are no doubt still many surprises still ahead. But by experience, I know that I am only expected to take this journey one day at a time. If my experience with Addison is any indication......surprises? Can be exactly what I needed in my life....but didn't even realize it.