How many times have you used an automatic response only to wish you could grab it back or blow it away before it could be heard? Or, on the other hand, how many times has someone responded automatically to you and you cringe, not able to say what you really feel?
I just read an insightful article that illustrates my point. Please take a few minutes to read, As Long as the Baby is Healthy…But What if He’s Not?
Micha Boyett, told the story of her third pregnancy. She and her husband had received the prenatal diagnosis that the baby she was carrying was Down syndrome. They shared this news with their family and close friends.
But like any parents in a similar situation, they struggled with their fears. They didn’t know the depth of his medical issues or the long-lasting effects on their other boys and their future plans. However, there was no visible difference between this pregnancy and her others.
So she was confronted over and over again with the well-meaning questions of total strangers. “How’s the pregnancy going?” they asked. “Is everything healthy?” She didn’t want to lie, but she also didn’t want to tell them the truth.
She writes, “Of course we always say to strangers the easiest thing. I understand that. We all crave ease, pleasure. The cuter the better. The least amount of struggle, the happier. We ask if the pregnancy is healthy expecting smiles and head nods because it’s too scary to admit that sometimes pregnancies are not.”
How many times did she hear, “Well, all that matters is that he’s healthy, right?” Yet she knew her baby was not what others would consider healthy.
I was so touched by her conclusions:
“All of us who are parents will suffer, whether that is early in our baby’s life or later. Loving always brings pain, whatever we say to one another, however we strive to cover our fears with easy words.”
“What matters is how we receive each other. How we receive the ones we’ve been given to love. I receive this, Lord. I receive him. I receive my child.”
“What matters is how we love.”
Now I’m thinking of some other automatic responses.
- “Well, at least you have two other healthy boys.” (minimizing the problems)
- “You shouldn’t have gotten pregnant after you turned 35.” (judging)
- “We need to rejoice in all circumstances.” (moralizing)
- “What are you going to do about it?” (scrutinizing)
- Or the worst of all, “I just remembered I have an appointment in a few minutes.” (vaporizing)
Do you care to add some of the automatic responses you have used or had used on you? Email: diane
As friends and believers there are some things we can do and say.
- We can sit and listen while they pour out their heart.
- We can offer specific help. “I’d like to pick up your sons from preschool and take them out to the park for a romp. Is today good?” or ”I’m on my way to the grocery. What can I pick up for you?”
- We can stay in touch. Pray, call, visit, or send short encouraging messages.
I’m going to make a more concerted effort to listen before I respond, to let my love and care show instead of dispensing my pat replies. How about you?
You might also like to read What to Expect When Your Baby is Born with a Disability