When People Ask If Your Child Is ‘Healthy Now’


Last night, I made a quick trip to the store by myself. The cashier scanned the baby oatmeal and asked, “How old is your baby?” I told her she just turned 2. The cashier said she had a 2-year-old, and there’s no way her 2-year-old would eat baby oatmeal. I explained my baby was born at 26 weeks, and it complicates things. The cashier’s immediate response was to pose the question, “But she’s healthy now, right?”

I have no idea how to answer the question. Do I be polite and give her the answer she wants to hear? Or do I use the moment to be truthful?

I want people to know that, despite everything, things are OK, her life has quality and we are happy. On the other hand, there are still numerous specialists, therapists and concerns involved in our daily life. She is not what many would consider “healthy.”

I want others to know that babies like my daughter, Charlie, don’t go home from the NICU and become immediately healthy. It can be a long, tough road, and the end isn’t in sight for us.

At the very least, I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that all preemies catch up by age 2.

I suppose I could have ended the conversation by saying, “Yes, she’s healthy now” and left it at that. Instead, I answered with, “She’s getting there. She needs time and therapy. But we are well.”

How do other parents of preemies answer this question?

Follow this journey on Cheering on Charlie.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

25 Truths Special Needs Parents Wish Others Understood This Thanksgiving

The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but for kids with special needs and their families, extra challenges sometimes pop up — routine disruptions, food-centric days, questions from unfamiliar relatives and more. It can be an overwhelming time, to say the least. To help spread some empathy, The Mighty asked parents of children with special needs [...]

10 Confessions of a Preemie Mom

Because it’s Prematurity Awareness Month, I feel like I should be writing more this month. However, my mind is rebelling against any attempts I make. It’s more than writer’s block. I have a lot of negative feelings when I think of writing about prematurity. Today, I thought I would just go for it and write those [...]

The 2 Words That Take on a New Meaning in a Special Needs Marriage

Life lessons are taught to different people at different times and in different ways, but they are always taught. You will never escape them. Some find themselves as pupils much earlier than others, but no matter when we find ourselves in the classroom, we’re never as prepared as we think we are for the test [...]
author hugging her adopted son

When People Ask Why a ‘Big Boy Like That’ Is in a Stroller

Last year our family spent five weeks in Chile completing the adoption process for our second son. He was just shy of 3 years old when we returned home with him.  Two months after our return, I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store. A rather bizarre but thought-provoking encounter ensued.    She saw [...]