Saturday, February 2, 2013
I work with old folks...senior citizens, older adults, geezers...whatever you prefer to call someone who has matured past the age of 60.
While I was pregnant almost everyone I came across would ask if we were having a boy or a girl. Chad and I chose not to find out the gender and this made drove most people slightly mad. The seniors I work with would be distressed over thoughts of a little baby boy bounding home to a room that was yellow or, for the love of all things holy...PINK. "How will you know what to buy?" "How will you be prepared?"
As if gender dictates an entire new set of baby tools in your arsenal...*sigh*.
So, after they would get past the boy-girl issue, most would say the phrase that always stung me "As long as it is healthy".
Mostly I would just gloss over it and flash a smile and go on. At the time the pain of the unknown and the thought of all that little baby was going to endure was just too much.
However, sometimes I didn't want to leave it at that.
"We know the baby has a birth defect", I would say. This typically stirred up many emotions and awkward pauses. One woman furrowed her brow and said, "I don't think you are supposed to say that anymore."
The seniors were not so delicate and one actually said, "You don't want a retarded baby to take care of, you just don't!"
I chalked this attitude up to a time when children who were not the norm were swept away into hauntingly bare buildings to be locked into a regimen of secrecy.
Many of the senior women I deal with have suffered many loses...especially children. Babies that today would be easily tweaked were left to wither away in their mother's arms. They rest in a soiled womb next to great-great grandparents and other siblings who left this world before them. These women know pain and who am I to dismiss their feelings?
Truth was, and is, our baby was born with a birth defect. Call it a 'happy accident' or a 'little tummy trouble', but I prefer to call it what it is. She has an Omphalocele and she will grow up knowing exactly how she came into this world.
In a society of political correctness (don't you despise that phrase? I do, along with AMAZING which no one should say anymore.) we've started glossing over truths. I am not a mean person or lacking in compassion. I don't want to shield her from things. This world can be brutal, but it can also be exciting and full of promise. I will not raise a child to be so tender that the sting of reality sends them into a downward spiral that no amount of Elmo, fruit roll-ups or Daniel Tiger can fix.
We cannot wrap our children in emotional bubble wrap and send them into a world ready to pop them.
Am I bullying my baby? No.
(By the way, we are also overusing the word BULLYING. Maybe I'll work AMAZING BULLYING into every sentence until it loses all meaning.)
So, in short, my child came into this world with part of her insides on the outside and we will one day bully those amazing innards back where they belong.