Have you ever said that? I’m pretty sure I did before Elli was born. We didn’t find out whether she was a boy or a girl and we’d say “I’m not hoping for either one, just so long as the baby is healthy.”

What a terrible thing to say.

As if a child who is ill or disfigured or disabled is less valuable, less wantable, less human, less loveable, less yours.

When we found out that Elli’s heart was critically deformed and would need multiple surgeries to correct it, and when she almost died the next morning, I discovered that I didn’t care if she was healthy.

All I wanted was to bring my daughter home. Alive.

…even though that meant we carried an oxygen tank with us everywhere for the first 6 months.

…even though I couldn’t breastfeed her. Instead, I pumped milk and added formula to increase the calories; then poured it into a syringe connected to a slim tube fed into her nose, down her throat, and into her stomach.

…even though she needed 25 different doses of medicine a day to keep her alive.

…even though I didn’t sleep longer than 2 hours at a time for months.

…even though I nearly fell asleep at her weekly therapy sessions… and on the drives home.

Her life had value, no matter what package it came in, no matter how long she lived. She was our daughter, and we loved her no matter what.

Let’s purge the phrase “as long as the baby’s healthy” from our vocabulary. You don’t really mean it anyway.