Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

As long as it’s healthy

People have said that to me a number of times since I started making it public that I got myself knocked up. I tell them that I don’t know if the fetus is a boy or a girl, and they respond, smiling, “As long as it’s healthy.”

Fuck that. I come back to the idea that my child might have cystic fibrosis or any other of a number of conditions or illnesses, genetic or not, and I realize that I just don’t care.

“I’m sure your baby will be healthy,” people tell me, and I conclude that, like Pope John Paul II said from the hospital, this world is elitist about health.

Yes, of course, we should try to eliminate communicable diseases and conditions caused by the toxic environment we create with our overuse of fossil fuels and insistence upon perfectly green manicured lawns. Yes, we should pursue research that allows us to prevent, fight, and cure diseases. No, I don’t look forward to endless doctor visits and treatments that would come with my child being ill.

But shouldn’t we also value the people with diseases? At least in the US, HIV is not the death sentence it once was. People with cystic fibrosis live fulfilling lives well into adulthood. Cancer sucks, but people with cancer can be great contributors to society, even when they cannot be cured.

I hope my child will be happy. I know my child will be loved, no matter what his or her health.


At 10:08 PM, Anonymous kim said...

I second that. I'm very tired of the quest for the perfect child. It's also why we not doing any of the invasive "extra" testing with our twins. My personal pet peeve is this incredible urge to see Down Syndrome as a huge death sentence.

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Yael - Ein Shem said...

When my baby was born Echidne said somehting like "May your child always have something to eat and someone to love". I thought that was a beautiful blessing. Much better than "healthy baby" wishes.
Ein Shem

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Emilin said...

That *is* beautiful.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Shelli said...

wonderful blessing, Yael.

I think I'll borrow it.


word verification - luhav (sounds like lulav...)

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Miashell said...

What a wonderful post!. As a disability activist, I sincerely applaud your "healthy" attitude!

Hoping can use your post as an example in the Disability Studies class Im teaching in the spring :)

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Emilin said...

You're more than welcome to use whatever valuable anything is in there. It's not a particularly eloquent entry....

At 11:12 AM, Blogger trisha said...

When I was pregnant, I often said that I hoped we didn't have one of those normal, regular children. And we didn't.

And I am grateful.

I just love this post, Em. You are amazing.

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

I love the something to eat and someone to love blessing.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Yeah, people were saying that at school yesterday and it was bugging me. Especially coming from teachers who teach students with disabilities. :(

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

I first realized how stupid that comment was 2 years ago when some dear friends found out at 27 weeks of pregnancy that their baby had hydrops. They would have been ecstatic with ALIVE, of course knowing their little one was NOT healthy but had about a 1% chance of survival...(he died 18 hours after birth at about 31 weeks gestation).

"Health" is so fleeting and relative.

And the statement "as long as it's healthy" begs the question "what will you do if it isn't, throw it back?!"

Thank you for sharing that...I always think i'm alone in these pet peeves!

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous jenny said...

That sort of sentiment also drives me batshit. I have worked for many years in group homes taking care of kids with disabilities, many of which had been essentially abandoned by their families. They were hard kids to be around sometimes, and strange, but you know what - seeing them grow and learn was infinitely rewarding. Yael's quote is also quite beautiful. What a perfect wish for a child.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger the therapeutic writer said...

the flipside is that I never wish for any child to endure pain, discomfort, upset, sadness...anything negative. We all want the best for our kids.

But I do appreciate your blog and it is a very important thought to share. Thanks

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Emilin said...

As humans, we'll all experience pain, discomfort, upset, and sadness. Healthy or not, we can't prevent that.


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