I am currently pregnant with our second child. We have yet to find out the sex of the baby, but we are really 50/50 about what we are hoping for; we can see the positives of either. We already have a beautiful, perfect little girl. Of course some people have said we “need” a boy. I think it would be fun to have a different experience, to mix things up a little bit, and to have more likelihood of carrying on the family surname. It also would be easier not to compare a boy to my daughter.
A girl, on the other hand, could use the hordes of clothes we already own. They will share a room either way (to preserve the guest room,) so decorating would be simpler — although I might need to tone down the pink if we have a boy. And I have loved having a girl. I dress us in coordinating outfits, and with two girls, I could step that up to a new level. I have literally gone back and forth between hoping for a boy and hoping for a girl. Clearly I will be happy no matter what. (And maybe even a little disappointed … but I do not want twins!)
The other piece of the puzzle is that our Perfect Princess has developmental delays. She has made amazing progress, and she blows us away every week with her new skills, but she is behind her peers in most areas. She walked at age 3, has yet to talk (she will when she feels like it), and is learning to self-feed. So things are a bit more challenging for her (and us, at times) than they are for a typical kid.
However, she is far and away the happiest child I have ever come across. She doesn’t cry. I mean it. I don’t even remember the last time she cried. (She also has a high pain tolerance.) She doesn’t throw tantrums. She really only whines if she is hungry, or if I am engaged in something like making dinner and unable to hold her or read her a book. She finds joy in the simple pleasures in life: playing with the shower curtain, unrolling the toilet paper roll, terrorizing the dogs, looking in the mirror, and carrying her toys around the house.
We can take her anywhere. She has been to nine countries, 5-star restaurants, movies, my doctor’s appointments, and any errand we ever need to run. Just this week we received a compliment as she quietly accompanied us in picking out new eyeglasses for my husband. She is just happy to be along for the ride and up for anything. She will ride the seven hours in the car to visit my family (with one stop) with virtually no protest. While some things, like spoon feeding her every 3 hours, are challenges, others are the opposite because she is so carefree and easy.
So while some people have opinions on what we “should” have next, I have also heard, “As long as it’s healthy! That’s all that matters!” There is some talk in the special needs community about whether this is insulting.
Personally, I don’t take offense because I know the person is not saying, “I bet you don’t want another kid like your first one!” Obviously no one is thinking that. But the reality is that by textbook standards, while her physical health is good, my daughter does not fit the description of a perfectly healthy child free of medical complications.
Yet, we would take another one of her in a heartbeat. She has transformed our family in a way we never imagined. Her pros far outweigh anything that could be considered a “con.”
Yes, having a special needs child means your life looks different than you imagined. In May we went to 28 therapy, specialist, and IEP (school) appointments. (And that was with nine cancellations!) We keep busy trying to help her reach her full potential, whatever that may be. She is a lot less independent than a typical almost-four-year-old. We are completely unsure what her long term future looks like.
But she is so full of joy. She is the most fun-loving, beautiful, perfect creature I have ever laid eyes on. Everyone who meets her seems to instantly fall in love with her. She doesn’t need words to communicate love and affection. She is friendly, goofy, determined, clever, and engaging. I miss her when I am away from her. She wakes up with a smile on her face every morning.
I don’t know what Baby #2 will be like. I expect in some ways, (presuming it is a “healthy” baby by the world’s standards,) s/he will be easier in some ways and more difficult in others. I may have a better sleeper or eater, but I also will need to baby proof sooner or deal with tantrums.
I care very little about how baby number two turns out, aside from the fact that I hope the child is happy. My daughter is different, but she is happy. She enjoys life. That’s all we really want for our children — for them to be happy. So whether I have a boy or a girl, whether typical or special needs, I hope it feels joy every day of its life.
I hope people will consider this next time they converse with a pregnant woman. In the worst case scenario, you might say this well-meaning platitude to a mother who already knows her child has some sort of chromosomal abnormality or heart or neural tube defect but is still filled with joy about the new addition to her family — regardless of what struggles lie ahead. Instead of wishing that soon-to-be mother a healthy baby, wish upon her what we can all agree is desired: a fast and low-pain delivery!