Please, if nothing else, wish for health.

The other day, a friend of mine shared this post, Let’s Stop Saying: “We Don’t Care, as Long as our Baby’s Healthy.” This is not the first time I’ve seen it suggested that parents stop using the phrase. And as it seemed many of my friends agreed, this is the kind of thing that makes me angry to be a member of this generation of parents.

offended-memeWhy is everyone so offended by everything these days?

Seriously, is this the result of the “nobody fails and everyone makes the team” philosophy? I’m sure that was beginning as I was exiting grade school, and it has resulted in a society of young adults who get butthurt about, seemingly, everything everyone ever said or did.

Though, this author isn’t a parent. She just plays one on the Internet. She “studies mothers for 8 hours a day.” But, I’m sorry, that’s not the same as being one, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And I don’t mean that in a self-righteous, mothers-are-better-than-everyone, all-females-must-birth-offspring kind of way. Hell, I’ve been home with my kids for 3 days with daycare closed and at any point if you asked me about child-free life, I’d probably drool with envy.

I mean, I can read for 8 hours a day, 365 days a year about brains and surgery. Would you want me performing your craniotomy? No, because it’s about the practice and practical experience. As it is with being a parent. You become a mother the second you find out you are pregnant. No amount of reading baby books or birth stories or tales of mothers of yesteryear could ever compare to actually being one. It is a change in mindset that you don’t expect and can’t really be explained. As quickly as 2 pink lines appear, you find yourself and the world around you completely changed.

So, let’s clarify what we mean when we mothers say we “don’t care, as long as it’s healthy.”

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I was sent to the hospital at 34 weeks due to low platelets and upper stomach pain — two signs of HELLP syndrome, which can be fatal for both mother and baby. As a first time mother, my pregnancy was anxiety ridden from the onset. I cut out caffeine and deli meat and sushi, and all the “bad things” that can harm the baby. I bought a fetal doppler off the internet, so that I could hear the heartbeat during those panic-filled moments when I thought for sure he was dead inside of me. And when my doctor sent me to the hospital, 6 weeks early, saying “try not to worry, the survival rate is in your favor at this point” — it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Survival. There was a question about my baby’s survival. You can bet your ass that during the entire ordeal, I was pleading to god – as long as he’s healthy.

During my labor with Nora, I was obviously more experienced and knew what to expect. So, when the heart monitor decelerated and 4 doctors appeared in the room, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I had not been in active labor that long, but I had run out of amniotic fluid. There were rods and monitors sticking inside of me. And I would find out later, the cord was wrapped around her neck. The thought of losing her before even getting to meet her was as unbearable as the contractions, and more. So you can imagine in that moment, I cared about little other than anything else – as long as she was healthy.

“Good health” is subjective. For me, and I imagine most expecting parents, health meant alive. Because when I was pregnant, I spent 90% of my time worrying that something was going to happen and I’d lose my babies. I just wanted a baby in my arms, not in the NICU – or worse. I know plenty of children with autism and Down syndrome and Asperger’s who are very healthy. And more importantly, who are unequivocally loved. Implying that hoping for health means requiring some kind of society-defined “perfection” is absurd and unfair.

If we can’t wish for good health, tell me, what can we wish for? I’m sure if you ask the parent of any sick child, they’d tell you they would give anything for their child’s return to health. And that’s not because their child is less than those who are “traditionally” healthy – it’s because we want the best for our children. It is because we love them. I do not love my daughter less when she has bronchitis and needs nebulizer treatments. I did not love my son less because he needed ear tubes for chronic ear infections when he was one. If nothing else, these moments make my heart burst with more love because the threat of them being hurt or in pain beckons it. Maybe that is a feeling you can’t know until you’ve truly been there.

Wishing for good health doesn’t promote “ableism.” Not every statement a person makes is intended to put down another. So in this new year, how about if we resolve to stop taking offense to every little thing? How about we build each other up instead of tearing new parents down? And please, if nothing else, let’s wish for good health.

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