Dear Expectant Mother,
I have a disability. I expect you’ve been told that I am the “news every mother to be dreads”. It’s not your fault you feel this way. The medical community has trained you to think that the worst has happened if your baby is born and found to be “like me”. Pregnancy message boards and magazines, instead of telling you that if your child does have a disability, he or she can still be happy, assuages this concern by telling you that “only one in thirty three babies is born with a birth defect”, according to the CDC. It’s not your fault that the doctors and nurses have presented the future as bleak by default should your baby be “like me”. They are merely repeating what our culture has told them for so many years. But before you lose sleep over the possibility of a life like mine, please listen to me, if you love your baby as deeply as you say you do. Do not be afraid.
You have every right to be a little apprehensive should your child be disabled, because you will need to learn new things, and be prepared for the occasional unkind question. But please, do not be afraid. It pains me to know that my life, the life I love, is used as a scenario to scare you. I am good. I am happy. I am alive. And if any baby born to you has a disability, that baby can be the same. I dream of the day, when disability or not, the doctors will tell you, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant, and I know your baby will be beautiful”. I hope they will teach you to see someone like me as one of the trillions of enchanting human variations that may come to be as a result of you becoming a mom. I hope that they will acknowledge the extra wit, humor, and patience it requires to raise a disabled baby, but also acknowledge that if it happens, you will meet some amazing people. You will be exposed to a brilliant culture, and be able to know things so many of your “mommy friends” never will. I hope they will teach you to fear things like unkindness, selfishness, and lack of respect in your child, instead of disabilities. And if they don’t teach you, I hope you will teach them… because having a good heart is far more important than being able to walk.
If you have a baby that is so called “normal”, but knows nothing of treating others with love, you are in for a far more difficult life than another mother, whose baby will grow to be an exemplary being, who happens to have a disability. Think hard about what you should truly be afraid of. Then, instead of wishing for a child who can walk, and talk, and see, and hear, and learn like all the others, wish for one who is kind, generous, compassionate, and alive… because any mother with a child like that is the luckiest mommy on earth. I wish you luck and thank you, because you have the most important job in the world. And I hope that if you see me pass by you on the street, you will notice my rattling, vibrantly decorated wheelchair, and then notice that I am a happy person. I hope that you will close your eyes, and wish with every little piece of your heart, that the baby you’re expecting will be happy too. And then, you will realize that maybe; you want a child like me after all.
A “Grown-Up” with a Disability