Here is my baby girl, Louise. She is 4-month-old, has two legs two arms, and one extra chromosome. Please, when you meet a Louise, do not ask her mother, “Was it not detected during pregnancy?” either it was, and the parents took the decision to keep the baby, or it wasn’t, and the surprise was great enough that there’s no need to revisit it. Bear in mind that mothers have a tendency to feel guilty about each and every thing, so a surprising extra chromosome. . . I don’t need to tell you.
Don’t tell her mother, “It’s your baby no matter what.” No. It’s my baby, period. Plus: ‘no matter what’ is quite an ugly name; I’d rather call her Louise.
Don’t tell her mother, “As she is a Down’s baby, she will. . . etc.” No. She is a 4-month-old baby who happens to have Down’s Syndrome. It’s not what she IS; it’s what she HAS. You wouldn’t say “she’s a cancer baby.”
Don’t say, “They’re like this, they’re like that.” “They” all have their features, their character, their own tastes, their life. “They” are as different between them as you are from your neighbor.
I know that if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t think about it, but words do matter. They can comfort, and they can hurt. So just give it a thought, especially if you’re a doctor or nurse of any kind.
I usually don’t make my status ‘public’ on Facebook, but this one will be. You can read it and share it as you want. Because each year there are many new ‘mothers of Louise’ who can have a day ruined by those kinds of words. I know it’s not meant to hurt. But everyone should know this.
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