What Do People Mean When They Say, 'For as Long as the Baby Is Healthy'


During my most recent pregnancy (as well as all the others) when people asked me, “Do you know what you are having?” or “is the baby a boy or a girl?” it was typically followed with, “just as long as it is healthy.” I would nod my head in agreement because, what else are you supposed to say? It could get awkward really quickly if the next words spoken were, “What if the baby is not?”

Yet honestly, what if it’s not? I have been wondering recently what exactly a person means when they say those words. I can assume each person who makes the comment has a different reason as to why they have said those words, but really, what do they mean?

Personally, after having a child who ended up under the category of “not healthy,” I can tell you I am not offended by the phrase itself; but during this last pregnancy, the words took on a new meaning.

I am not ashamed to admit that I said “as long as he is healthy” to anyone who asked me the gender question. I know in a way that not every mother does what it means when your child falls under the not healthy category. I have lived in a hospital, my house is filled with medical supplies and equipment, my children excitedly yell every time we drive by Phoenix Children’s Hospital, I have watched my child endure too many medical procedures, countless daily seizures and I have had to play the “what happens if she doesn’t make it this time” scenario in my head more times than I can count. While some experiences of parenting are worth repeating, these are not ones I want to do with another child.

No one asks for “not healthy,” but sometimes that is just the card that gets played.

I do not love my daughter any differently than I do any of my other children, but I also would never want to watch another child go through what she does. I carry the burden of literally making life and/or death decisions on her behalf, and it is often times too much to handle.

When strangers said, “as long as the baby is healthy,” my mind would of course turn to my daughter. Her almost three years have been filled with a mixture of joyous occasions and challenges, tears and smiles, fear and hope, missed milestones and completed inchstones. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and events all along the way.

Still I wonder when someone says “as long as the baby is healthy” what if the baby is not?

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Getty image by tatyana_tomsickova


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