We’re going to have a baby.
Six little, life changing words. And no…. this isn’t a personal announcement, sorry to disappoint.
It appears that just simply saying them is no longer enough. Social media has fuelled the creativity amongst expectant parents and they are finding more and more wonderful (and not so wonderful) ways of announcing their life changing news.
There are the more obvious ones, often involving feet. Hairy pairs of flip flopped feet lined up alongside pretty, pedicured toes and a cute pair of tiny flip flops.
Then there’s the perfectly placed family of safety pins with a smaller pin inside the second in line.
Or the loved up couple on a woodland walk, holding a vintage chalk board sign bearing the words and then there were 3 or something similar.
I love them all.
There’s also the increasing trend of the Gender Reveal Party.
Guests are invited to place their guesses.
He or she, what will it be?
Your vote…pink or blue? And leave a name suggestion too.
Then there are those that are, perhaps, a little questionable. A somewhat dubious cake posing the question…Will it be a cup cake or a stud muffin?
Or even the “We’re Here For The Sex” cake. Yes, really.
My particular favourite has to be the pink or blue champagne. Though, after a glass or two at that party, you risk forgetting what has actually been announced. Blue or pink.
I love them all.
I love the hope – the joy and the excitement they generate. I love the fact that they celebrate a new life. A baby. Their baby. I love that they acknowledge it as a person. A precious baby, a precious new life. I share their joy.
What will it be?
But not every expectant parent wants to celebrate. Or even make an announcement. For whatever reason. I cannot judge them if they do not. Some start off by announcing and celebrating, until a routine scan brings the party to an abrupt end.
A problem. An anomaly. Or perhaps just unplanned leading to some very real difficulties for the mother/father.
Heart wrenching dilemmas.
So the language changes as does the question. Often not from the parents, it has to be said.
The contradictions begin.
The word baby is replaced by the word foetus. It’s no longer a person to be looked forward to. To be celebrated. To be wanted. It’s a problem.
A fetal anomaly.
A widely held view is that it’s not a baby at all. It’s a future person – according to Catherine Joynson’s recent blog reflecting on a report into Non Invasive Pre Natal Testing (NIPT) from Nuffield Council of Bioethics.
Not an actual person. A future person.
Yet, over 90% of the time, at the moment a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome is given, that future person becomes a no future person.
Women, couples, have a way out. It’s a very painful one. But it’s there, under the banner of choice. Autonomy – a word that has become sacrosanct. Termination is, invariably, the go to option.
The word foetus (fetus) in Latin means offspring. The bearing, bringing forth or hatching of young. It is a process.
And you will never convince me that it is in the mother’s best interests, (other than when her life is in danger) to help her to get rid of her offspring; to bring that process to an abrupt end. We owe it to women to find better ways to help and support them through birth and bringing up their offspring. Instead, we – society – plays the choice card. The Ace of Spades. To end the game. Silence the opposition. Kill the debate. The death card.
Choice has so little value when the menu has been limited. Is it really a choice at all…when there are so many external influences placed on women from all corners of society?
No, the question on these women’s lips is not “what will it be?”
They have been told that already. A Downs baby, disabled. A burden; a child with learning difficulties. A strain, emotionally and financially. Outdated and misinformed ideas fill their heads. And, like I did, they believe they couldn’t love a baby that isn’t perfect. They believe they wouldn’t have the strength or the resources to care for a child like that. They are almost certainly broken-hearted. Their dreams have been crushed. The party over, before it could even begin.
These women, these parents, are badly let down. My heart hurts as much for them as it does for the babies they had, perhaps, planned to celebrate. They have no idea how much they would come to love their baby, their fetal anomoly, as I did mine.
We must surely help women to birth their offspring, not kill them.
To be or not to be.
That is the question.
To quote Lord Shinkwin, a disabled peer, speaking recently in a debate about Abortion on the grounds of Disability:
“Well this fetal anomaly, this proud Member of your Lordships’ House, is having none of it. I utterly reject this medical mind-set that clings to the idea that a disabled baby is a medical failure to be eradicated through abortion. I beg no one for my equality. I know I have as much right as anyone to be alive”