I was recently contacted by a mum of a child with additional needs, who expressed sadness to me over her pregnant friend's attitude to the possibility of having a baby with disabilities.
Her friend, knowing this mum had a child with differences, told her that if the baby she was expecting was found to have the same condition, she would terminate the pregnancy. While my friend recognises and supports a woman's right to choose, she found herself distressed by the conversation. She wanted to express her feelings anonymously, and I am happy to provide a forum for that.
When my child welcomed your baby into the world...
In that moment, the tiniest, quietest moment in time, captured like a still, a frame, one that will pass and never be repeated, my heart tore a little.
I saw a small child, one of a giggling gang, no differently enjoying hiding and chases whilst hoarding sweets, who withdrew herself from the fun to take a closer look at your baby.
The only one who cared, who could look beyond themselves to the other. Whose focus was more on that new person on this earth than herself.
She came quietly, gently near you, sat between you and a friend, manoevered herself to be near the newborn, welcoming him, studying him, a nurturing spirit and love oozed from every fibre of her being.
Her voice was low, she whispered soft sweet nothings to that perfect new person.
I’m not sure if that made you uncomfortable. She is after all a reminder of the worries of your pregnancy, the lucky escapes you feel you had.
You doctors warned of the risk of you having one such as her. They created a fear in you that pervaded throughout your months of expecting. You wanted the best for your first born. Of course you did. You listened. You fell in line and were drawn into the tunnel of forgone conclusions.
While you waited for your results you decided that one type of hospital letter would mean an end to the pregnancy and another would not.
Despite knowing the most perfect of social butterflies that my daughter is, your trusted doctors were more right. Heart-broken, you just felt you couldn’t do it. That the risks were too high. No-one talked of an individual, their gaze solely on those text book characteristics.
My head tried to understand, but my heart pulled me a little further into my social shell. And it bled.
Your distraught extended family sobbed at the prospective decision. But their grief had to be suffered privately for they they have no right to be heard. No right to interfere.
The medics were wrong. The pass to that particular private members club was never handed your way. Your baby fitted the original expectations you had for him.
Yet as my daughter stroked your baby’s nose, and he succumbed to that tenderness, neither were aware that had he been differently made up, he would not be here. And that you were thankful that he was not like her.
I died a little in that tender moment witnessed. For what I saw was one so perfect, yet so perfectly misunderstood, and one who is only here by grace of the perfection he is perceived as being. How close a call he had. How very nearly he might not have graced this earth had his chromosomal pattern been more colourful.
And in that moment, what did you see? Did you see the same? Or did you want my child to move away from yours? Did my daughter teach you all you need to know, or will you never understand the value of her ways.
I hope that little boy will always fulfill your expectations. Somehow I know that the best lesson in life for you to learn is that he will simply be himself. And whatever his genetic make-up, that may not always be what you had in mind.
- How The Wave Project makes surfing possible for disabled children - August 11, 2022
- Ofsted and the CQC reveal plans for new Area SEND Inspections - June 14, 2022
- #VoteSEND: How disabled people & their families can make a difference this election - November 28, 2019