Some Mothers Get Babies With
Written By: Lori Borgman
Columnist and Speaker
My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what
She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers
have given throughout the pages of time. She says it doesn't matter
whether it's a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten fingers
and ten toes.
Of course, that's what she says. That's what mothers have always
Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more.
Every mother wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head,
rosebud lips, button nose, beautiful eyes and satin skin. Every
mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber
baby for being flat-out ugly. Every mother wants a baby that will
roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule
(according to the baby development chart on page 57, column two).
Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire
neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out
of the park and do toe points that are the envy of the entire ballet
Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.
Some mothers get babies with something more.
Some mothers get babies with conditions they can't pronounce, a
spine that didn't fuse, a missing chromosome or a palette that
didn't close. Most of those mothers can remember the time, the
place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the
small, suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took
their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you
didn't see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of
Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months,
even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her
for a well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they
bear the brunt of devastating news. It can't be possible! That
doesn't run in our family. Can this really be happening in our
I am a woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing
finely sculpted bodies. It's not a lust thing; it's a wondrous
thing. The athletes appear as specimens without flaw - rippling
muscles with nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of
strength with lungs and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the
athlete walks over to a tote bag, rustles through the contents and
pulls out an inhaler.
As I've told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after
a third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram,
there's no such thing as a perfect body.
Everybody will bear something at some time or another. Maybe the
affliction will be apparent to curious eyes, or maybe it will be
unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor, medication or
surgery. The health problems our children have experienced have been
minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen interest and great
admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and
wonder how they do it.
Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me. How you lift that child in
and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track
medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred
specialists yammering in your ear.
I wonder how you endure the cliches and the platitudes, well-
intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you've
occasionally questioned if God is on strike. I even wonder how you
endure schmaltzy pieces like this one -- saluting you, painting you
as hero and saint, when you know you're ordinary.
You snap, you bark, you bite. You didn't volunteer for this. You
didn't jump up and down in the motherhood line yelling, "Choose me,
God! Choose me! I've got what it takes." You're a woman who doesn't
have time to step back and put things in perspective, so, please,
let me do it for you.
From where I sit, you're way ahead of the pack. You've developed the
strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a
daffodil. You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box
in July, carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an
You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances
require intense and aggressive the next. You are the mother,
advocate and protector of a child with a disability. You're a
neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at the mall. You're the woman
I sit next to at church, my cousin and my sister-in-law.
You're a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got
You're a wonder!