When I was growing up in the 90’s, before ultrasound and gender revelations became the standard, I have vivid memories of conversations about Boy or Girl, and the automated responses that followed.
“Are you hoping for a boy or girl?” One would ask an expectant mother.
“I don’t care,” she would reply, “As long as they’re healthy.”
Even though I’m a mother four times over, and know even more mothers than I did as a child, I don’t hear that conversation as often. Now I hear, “Do you know what you’re having,” and the conversations drifts to the moral implications of knowing the gender of a child.
But does it really matter? What if the child we carry isn’t healthy? Whether we know before birth, at birth, or sometime after, does having an unhealthy child affect the way mothers and those approaching mothers with questions impact the value of the life they’re carrying?
I have a child with significant medical needs and know multiple mothers who have walked or are walking a similar journey. I’ve mourned the loss of friends’ babies and watched children struggle with serious illness. Would these mothers count those children as less worthy of a life or an insignificant part of their family; their story?
It’s unfortunate that today with Therapeutic Abortion and Genetic Selection , I don’t hear the progression of these conversations as often. What an opportunity to declare the worth of every life. Abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen is quoted as saying, ” There are things that you are only able to learn by the weakest among us.” I can attest that this is true, and it absolutely encompasses those children who require more care, or whose moments living can only be counted by the number of breaths they took.
Knowing what I know now, what I’ve learned from my situation and the heroic witness of others, is that a heart doesn’t love a child less because he reaches milestones at a slower rate, or if his limbs are misshapen. A mother and father who mourn the loss of a child or who watch a child suffer with illness cannot shrink their love of that child because of his health or time spent on Earth. Disfiguring birth defects, or the incompatibility of life mean nothing when compared to the love that parents hold for the child who is given the mere opportunity to be born.
In the future, I hope to hear more conversations like this:
“Do you care what you’re having?”
“No, I’m happy either way.”
“As long as they’re healthy, right?”
“No. Even if they’re not.”
*If you are considering a therapeutic termination because of a diagnosed birth defect, please contact The Guiding Star Project and we will connect you to the resources you need. You are not alone! There are many mothers of children with special needs and babies who who have a shorter lifespan who will show you, that every child is special and worthy of life, no matter their limitations.
** A few resources are listed below for those whose child may have been diagnosed with a severe birth defect.
photo credit: 22 Weeks via photopin (license)
Do you remember your middle school or high school reproductive health class? When I think back to my education about periods and “How babies are made” my memories are brief. I can remember short parts of videos or awkward condom demonstrations and disgusting pictures of STDs. Does this sound familiar to you?