Hands up any of you who, when pregnant were asked “what are you hoping for, boy or girl?”. It’s a pretty regular question and one I know I was asked myself. I mean it’s also a pretty rubbish question. If anyone asked Ben while I was pregnant, what he was hoping for, he’d always say ‘errr.. a baby’. But in reality, no matter how daft, it’s probably a question we’ve asked expectant mothers ourselves.
So, hands up who answered “I don’t care”? And keep your hand up if you added the caveat, “as long as it’s healthy”? Quite a few of you I see.
I didn’t. Well not quite. I knew, knew, knew I wanted a boy. I was actually quite petrified at the thought of having a girl. Girls are so, well, difficult. Boys, much simpler. And I wasn’t shy about telling the truth. When I found out, quite late on, we were indeed having a boy, I couldn’t have been any happier. But for all my honesty, I know I also used the caveat “as long as they’re healthy”.
What a stupid thing to say.
Was I really saying I wouldn’t love my child if they weren’t healthy? And what did I mean by healthy anyway? It’s such an broad sweeping and vague term. Did I in fact mean, “as long as they’re normal”. I’m horrified to think back to the ignorant me and wonder whether this is the case, but I think it is. I want to scream at her and say don’t be so bloody arrogant and oh by the way, you should know this right now THERE IS NO NORMAL.
So yeah, I got what I asked for. I wanted a boy. I got a boy. And boys are not simple. They are just as complex and difficult and hard work as girls. And I wanted him to be ‘healthy’ and physically he is. I mean he really is. He’s never had antibiotics in his life, not because I don’t agree with them, just he’s never needed them. He gets the occasional cold and has had D&V maybe two or three times in his life. Physically my little dude is an ox. But ‘normal’?
Oscar’s autism is classed as a disability. I have a disabled son. This is not what I hoped for. This is not what I wanted all those years ago when I was flippantly remarking on the life of a child yet to be born. No, I think it’s fair to say, I am not in a place yet where I can see his autism as a gift or a positive in our lives. I also think it’s safe to say if I was asked if I wanted to give his autism back, I would. It’s hard. Some days too hard to explain. But if someone could have told me, when he was born, that this is who he is, would I have done anything differently? Would I have loved him any less, despite him not being the paragon of “normal child” I had held in my head for the previous nine months (and, let’s be honest, beyond)?
I didn’t want this for my son. I didn’t want autism to ever be a part of my life. But it is. And I love him no more or less than I would have done with or without it. To say you don’t care what you have as long as it’s healthy implies you will only love a child if it meets your expectations. I’m pretty sure that that’s bull shit. I’m pretty sure you’d love you child regardless. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe we need to stop using such thoughtless phrases, from some kind of maternity script. Maybe we could just change the lines a little.
Q: What are you hoping to have, boy or girl?
A: My baby