Sunday, October 19, 2008

So Long As It's Healthy...

Has anyone else ever thought about what an ODD statement that is? 

As a pregnant woman you are often asked, "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?" And quite frequently the pregnant woman replies with "We don't mind so long as it's healthy." 

What is with that? Do they mean that if the baby is born prematurely and spends a month or two or more in NICU that they won't love the baby? Or if the baby is born with a severe disability that they weren't prepared for they'll not care for it? Or if it's diagnosed with something like Down Syndrome and they continue the pregnancy they'll abandon it? Very strange. 

In many ways we're just copying the world and the medical profession's push for only allowing perfect babies to be born. We've been coerced, talked into and told how great it is that ultrasounds can give us a window into the womb but they're used to screen for abnormalities and problems...and THEN....when something shows up on the screen the pressure a mother is put through to abort that baby is astronomical. I read a book several months ago called Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics that explored through a series of medical journal/reports on this thinking and also quite a few personal stories and accounts of women who have kept their babies in spite of the intense medical pressure to terminate. 

As a Christian and someone who is pro-life I find this kind of thinking horrible. I would like to be able to prepare myself mentally if my child had a severe disability or even a milder one like Down Syndrome. However, to blindly allow myself to go off to say an 11 week ultrasound or even the big 20 week ultrasound and say that the ultrasound is just to reassure myself of the babies existance and to find out if it's a boy or girl is naive and misses the point that the whole reason for this ultrasound being introduced to the care of pregnant women is to screen for Down Syndrome and other disabilities incase she wishes to terminate...which 3 in 4 women do--is that because of social pressure, medical pressure or fear of the unknown of what caring for a child like that would be like?  

I admit that if something out of the ordinary were to occur and my child was stillborn, born sick or with a disability I would grieve. I would grieve for the child I didn't get but then I hope that with God's grace I would learn to love that little child I was given and learn to care for them in the way that they needed and would learn to rely on God for the strength, courage and patience to face the days, months and years to come. 

For what it's worth: I'm 11 weeks pregnant and NOT having the 11 week ultrasound. It's not common practice for women under 30 anyway but I did have the choice. I hold nothing against those who have chosen to get the ultrasound (it is after all reassuring to see that little person growing inside and watch that tiny heart beat with such regular rhythm!) 


Cara said...

Hmm, thought provoking post. We too chose not to have the early ultrasounds cause we figured their wasn't a whole lot of point.

I read a book called 'Love Ella' written by a woman that I know, Madeleine Witham. It is her story of loving and caring for a daughter with CDLS (a rare syndrome - you might need to google it). She made the point that when people said 'as long as it's healthy' around her - it was very hurtful. Although unintended, this comment basically said to her 'I don't want a child like yours'. Yet anyone who knows a child with a disability will know what special people they are and the unique things God has put in them.
So reading this really has made me very cautious in choosing my words when answering that question.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand your perspective, but I can also see myself siding with the flip side of the coin, in that it is a natural and desirable outcome to have a healthy baby born with all their digits/etc as God intended pre-fall, and I would/will still make a similar statement desiring their good health to those I speak with regarding my own children.

Grief over a baby's illhealth/ deformities is a natural response, I think, because of the unknown challenges ahead and possible lifelong complications, and strain emotionally, relationally, physically and financially.

My love for my child would not change, but there would be great sadness in my heart that as long as my child is on this earth, they/we must live with a visible reminder of the sinful state of man. It is with great comfort that we can rest assured in His grace, and loving arms, knowing God will bless us through our children, whether disabled physically or mentally, and most importantly that any child born has the capacity to know Christ as their saviour and friend! Praise God for that!

Christine Mao said...

I tend to agree with Laura's comment. I think it's natural and desirable to want to have a healthy baby and to express this openly. I guess I have been saying "as long as it's healthy, or alive" because I do want a baby that's alive! I have a deep-seated fear that I'll have a still-born and am trying to brace myself if this is the case.
I understand that it may perhaps reflect a lack of trust in God's better plans if we only think about having healthy babies, but it also shows how we are so affected by sin.
Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. They are really good to mull over. I'm having my 19 week ultrasound on Monday morning and am excited to see another image of Dotti. Don't want to find out the long as she's healthy ;)

Kathryn - said...

Yes, an interesting one. I had my 12 week ultrasound for two reasons... 1) I had problems early in the pregnancy and was basically a pincushin in order to give Sean the best chance of survival. 2)I am jolly curious.

I would have my child no matter what, but see "knowing" beforehand as merely a preparation for the birth and life afterwards. We took long enough to have Sean, and haven't as yet been blessed with another, that I really do not mind what God entrusts us with.

I too was horrified when the idea of terminating IF I had a Down's Syndrome child. I actually told the doctor (who thankfully is not my regular GP) my views on terminating for such a situation, and that I certainly would not be if the situation arose.

Kath :) (happy to discuss "offline" if anyone wishes to).