Baby Love

I recently read Baby Love by Rebecca Walker. I could relate to her ambivalence about becoming a mother, her difficult birth and her inability to remember any lullabies. I was also excited to read that she’d made a trip to Shikoku, the island where I live, although she didn’t have a great time. And I appreciated her defense of fatherhood. Feminist or not, I think we have to recognize the importance of fathers in the lives of our children.

But on page 89, when she’s trying to decide whether or not to have an amnio, she writes “I just can’t get too excited about a huge needle that close to my baby. On the other hand, I have to be honest with myself about being able to care for a baby with special needs. I don’t think I can do it.”

Here’s the thing, Rebecca: No one wants to give birth to a baby with special needs. Don’t we all say, “as long as it’s healthy”? And probably most of us believe that we are incapable of caring for a child with special needs. To be honest, if someone had told me when I was pregnant that my daughter would be deaf and unable to walk, I would have been very disappointed. And yet now, I can’t imagine not having Lilia with us. I would rather have Lilia as she is than not have her at all. She has made me a better person.

Having a child with special needs isn’t necessarily bad.

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6 thoughts on “Baby Love

  1. RW is such an arrogant idiot. She also said she could never love an adopted or stepchild as much as a biological child.

    She’s stuffing both her feet in her mouth and acting like she’s the first person to have ever discovered motherhood. I find her beyond offensive. And tiresome.

  2. That bothers me too, when people say they aren’t the type or couldn’t care for a child with special needs, as if parents of special needs children are a completely different breed of person. To my ear it sounds like “I can only be the parent of a perfect child. Those other people, different from me, can have the imperfect ones.” It sounds so dismissive.

    Anyway, a lot of children who look perfect in the delivery room turn out to face some pretty huge challenges down the line, and most parents do rise to the challenge…autism, learning disabilities, mental illness, cancer…the possibilities are endless (unfortunately). People who really honestly can’t care for special needs children shouldn’t have any kids. There are no guarantees.

  3. ‘She has made me a better person.’

    Isn’t this the meaning of life? To learn about ourselves? Who and what we really are? It is said that relationships are designed for this very purpose, preincarnatively, as we design what will be our lives… the classroom in which to learn our lessons in love. A love that encompasses the totality of existence, not just the easy stuff. For we learn from that which challenges us, not from that which does not. This applies in every situation, in every relationship be it personal or public in nature.

    These challenges come to all sooner or later in various means to this same end… learning love. For some it is selfish in nature, while for others it is unselfish. These are said to be the two paths in life from which we must choose which feels right for us. This is why we are here, to choose the manner in which we want to continue our lessons.

    The end is the same, only the means vary. Like history, these lessons repeat until we learn them.

  4. We can only hope she is never ‘blessed’ with this kind of gift. Sigh. If she weren’t the daughter of Alice Walker, no one would care. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Wonderful post, Suzanne. Have you read Anne Finger’s memoir PAST DUE? I think you’d like it if you haven’t read it already. She raises such important questions, I think.

  6. I think I read an excerpt of PAST DUE in Kaleidoscope, which is a literary magazine concerning disabilities. Thanks for reminding me, though. I’ll have to order her books.

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