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.

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