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All We Want is Healthy

June 2, 2015

The warm, almost-too-hot water, swirled around my feet, relieving some of the pregnancy-induced swelling. The electronically controlled rollers kneaded up and down my fraught back, feeling swayed from the growing pull on my belly. The pedicurist’s hands expertly kneaded out the tension in my calf muscles, while the lady next to me made small talk about her own daughter who’s expecting a baby at the end of October. I love that my growing belly makes small talk with strangers easy.  After my pedicure-neighbor asked about my due date, she replied with frank astonishment: “Wow, you’re so much bigger than my daughter!” Did I mention that I’m a full six weeks further along than her daughter? And this is my third pregnancy? And let’s not forget, I’m a tad hormonal these days? Doesn’t everyone know the “What You Should Never Say to Pregnant Ladies” rules?

And while her comment probably registered a three on an irritation scale of ten, there is another just-as-oft used comment that explodes off that scale. Really, it always makes me feel a little sick to my heart, like a lead rock has been dropped into the bottom of my soft, empty well, absorbing all the impact of this oft repeated pregnancy platitude: “We really don’t care if we’re having a boy or a girl, as long as they’re healthy.” I used that phrase before I had Reed, even while pregnant with him, months before we would know how altered our lives had become by this little baby. After all, it seemed harmless and true. Everybody wants healthy. I mean, that’s the base line, right? If nothing else (or maybe even if everything else) goes your way pregnancy-wise, the least you can ask for is a healthy baby.

59563_432327073660_6261354_nBut what happens when I breathe that please-just-be-healthy mantra looking into the sweet face of my almost five year old who is not by any standard definitions robustly healthy? How can I pray that this little girl growing inside of me “just be healthy,” when that seems to undervalue, undermine, and invalidate her oldest brother’s very being?

How do I answer him the day he asks, “Why wasn’t your just-be-healthy prayer answered for me, Mama?” I scrape the bottom of my heart-well, searching for the right words that haven’t yet come.

Perhaps, though, what’s most troublesome for me, sitting on the opposite shore of just-be-healthy, is the ultimatum this unknowing comment casually throws into the ocean. What’s left lingering at the end of “as long as they’re healthy”?

Treading these depths, raising “not healthy,” looking long past today and into life even a little farther out to sea, what’s peeking on the horizon of my ultimatum? If i can’t have “healthy,” then I refuse joy? If he can’t just-be-healthy, then I’m succumbing to bitterness? If he just isn’t healthy, then I shut out hope?

Or was there a great ocean of learning that I was about to uncover in the shattering of my just-healthy-please expectations? Those empty words wishing “health” mirrored my heart that needs to be made just that. Healthy.

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