Birth/Rebirth: I couldn’t say, “Congratulations.”
I opened the comment box and sat with my fingers poised on the keyboard. I didn’t know what to type.
I started scrolling through other people’s comments, hoping for clues about the right response.
“Congratulations,” her other friends had said.
Oh. That made sense. My friend had given birth! To a child she would love dearly! I should say, “Congratulations.”
My finger hovered over the letter C but didn’t type. My friend was probably experiencing one of the greatest disappointments of her life and she had so many more challenges ahead. Challenges that she would handle beautifully—I knew that. And yet…
I stared down at my own pregnant belly. I had so many hopes for the baby growing in my own womb, many of which would be dashed if the baby were born with a condition like Down syndrome. And he could be, I thought. The blood work had not ruled it out.
My husband had mentioned photos. Where were the photos? I scrolled down until I found them. He was cute. I clicked, “Like.” That wasn’t hard.
I know some people with Downs and I do like them. I worked at a group home and as a job coach for people with disabilities when I was a college student. I wasn’t one of those unenlightened people who hated or feared people with disabilities. Of all people, I should be able to express joy at the birth of a child with Down syndrome.
If, after all my experience, I couldn’t congratulate a mother of a child with Downs, how many people would discount and discriminate against this sweet new baby? I feared for him until I remembered all those comments.
I scrolled through the comments. There were so many. I started counting. Fifty, sixty, seventy people who knew how to congratulate my friend. Seventy people whose fingers didn’t freeze on the keyboard. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I say, “Congratulations”? My tears blurred the screen and I stepped away from the computer.