It’s a line that most women will find themselves using during their pregnancy. But is it insensitive?
A pregnant woman calling herself Galadrielsring posted on UK website Mumsnet that she had gone to a party and was asked by friends if she wanted a boy or a girl.
“I replied that I didn’t mind, as long as it was healthy,” she wrote.
“Woke up this morning to a massive long email from one of the friends’ husbands, the gist of it saying I’m hugely insensitive and have really upset my friend who has been in tears all night, as saying that I only want a healthy baby invalidates their daughter’s (who has cerebral palsy) life, that I owe them a ‘big big apology’ and that they don’t think they can be friends with someone with my attitude towards disability.”
Galadrielsring said she knew her friend’s daughter had cerebral palsy.
“We all fundraise for her as she needs a specially adapted chair. I love that little girl and would do anything for her, and they know this, which is why the email was so shocking.”
She said she thought her friend was being “ridiculous”, and was struggling to see what she’d done wrong.
“Surely everyone wishes for a healthy baby? I don’t know whether to reply or just leave it.”
Responses were mixed. Some people felt she should stand her ground and refuse to apologise. One woman said the husband was being “a cheeky f—ker”.
“I would reply something like: ‘Firstly I owe nobody a big big apology and I won’t be issuing one. I was asked a question and gave a fairly standard answer.’”
Melinda Hildebrandt on the moment she found out her daughter was deaf. She speaks candidly to Mia Freedman about parenting her daughter who has autism and is deaf. Post continues after audio.
Others were even harsher.
“Stop justifying entitled behaviour by guilt-tripping women into apologising for doing nothing wrong.”
Several people with experience of cerebral palsy weighed in.
“I have a child with cerebral palsy and when asked during my second pregnancy, ‘What do you want?’ I replied, ‘A healthy baby’,” one mum explained. “It’s a fairly standard reply to that question and in no way implies that I don’t love or value my first child.”
“I think she overreacted and is being oversensitive,” added another woman.
“My little brother has severe cerebral palsy and we absolutely adore him but it’s not something anyone would wish for because it’s bloody hard and emotionally draining.”
Another woman with a “mild variant of CP” made a different point.
“I’m disgustingly f–king healthy, thank you very much. Having CP doesn’t preclude ‘being healthy’. If the friend is really that sensitive, maybe she shouldn’t ask people a question that has garnered the same bland, predictable response from women for hundreds of years (probably)?”
But there were others who felt the woman should apologise.
“It is quite an ableist thing to say, although also quite a normal thing to say,” one person pointed out. “If I were in your shoes, I would apologise for using an expression which you now see is actually quite offensive, that you will be much more careful in future, etc.”
Another said she was already aware that this comment could be upsetting to parents.
“Years ago on Mumsnet a woman posted about how every time she heard that, she felt her very disabled child wasn’t ‘good enough’. She said she totally understood that wasn’t anyone’s intention, but it crushed her all the same. Her words, her emotions, have never left me and I think of her every time I hear it said. It’s easy enough to avoid saying it, so I think it’s better not to.”
Do you think the woman should apologise? Tell us in the comments below.