It is impossible in one blog to cover all of the various degrees of special needs. Due to advances in technology and testing, some parents know in advance that their child will have special issues. Some parents find out as soon as the baby is born that something is not ‘normal’. And some parents don’t find out that something isn’t ‘normal’ until toddler hood. Whenever you find out, there is a period of mourning for what you thought would be.
Grief Is Normal
When we first find out we’re pregnant, visions fill our heads with little league, soccer practices, ballet and fun filled family summers. I don’t know of any mother who prepares herself for the possibility of a special needs child (outside of being told there may be complications). We assume that after a certain point everything is going to be fine. When it’s not, our world goes into a tail spin.
It is normal to grieve the loss of what you thought would be. It doesn’t mean you will wallow in the grief forever and in fact, in most cases you won’t be able to because you will have a variety of new responsibilities to care for your special child. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child. It just means that you have to adjust your expectations.
Don’t be afraid to seek out support from other parents who are going through the same thing. It is important for both you and your spouse to see what other parents are doing with their special needs children. In a lot of cases it can be very encouraging when you’re in the midst of something incredibly overwhelming to look at other parents who have been there and see light and hope at the end of the tunnel.
I also want to mention the importance of seeking medical support. It stands to reason that with a special needs child you will spend a substantial amount of time visiting pediatricians and specialists. You need to feel comfortable with these people and you really need to feel like you are working in partnership with them rather than doing what they say or feeling like you are receiving advice that is not in your child’s best interest.
When it all comes down to it, you still have a very special baby who needs your love and attention. I heard one mother who has a child with down syndrome say once that everything turned out just fine. “Just fine” didn’t look like what they expected it to look like, but the situation was for their family, just fine.
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