It happens each day, all around the world. Science can fail to forecast it, doctors can’t always diagnose it, parents can never be prepared for it, and even the best social etiquette experts are unsure how to celebrate it; another child is being born, and sometimes unexpectedly, born with special needs.
These new parents will still honeymoon with their baby, experiencing the intimacies of caring for a newborn, and settling in. The problem is the honeymoon won’t last long enough, the mother’s celebration, the elation shared between husband and wife will be cut short, a honeymoon with a sprinkling of heartache, as William & Kate each said “ It is an emotional time”.
Elation is overshadowed by worry, the fight for your child’s life begins. You may grieve in private, yet celebrate in public. Happiness, for the day of your baby’s birth is here, and fear, so much fear..that the fragile life of your child could be taken away.
If Kate and William had been surprised by the birth of a child with special needs, would Kate feel lonely, distance from her old life, as she is thrust into a new world of medical jargon and diagnostic terms? Would Kate’s best friend call less, stop visiting Kate and her baby boy George, unsure how to help, what to say and unprepared for witnessing such a weary Kate? Would Kate have to fight to get the best specialists, a second, and third opinion on the health or unknown prognosis of her baby?
As a new modern mother, would Kate spend her late night hours googling opinions and case studies, systematically matching symptoms and conditions to that of her newborn child? Would she sleep too little, drink too much coffee, forget to eat, and have trouble finding the words for her sadness, even to share them with her beloved William? Would the two new parents, find distance between them, as they each struggle to separate their dreams of parenthood from their new reality? Would William question his strength as a father unable to protect his family from such unknown physical and emotional pain? Would William at first grieve for his son, and the unyielding life expectations his son may never achieve?
As parents- would William & Kate question their ability to care for their child? Consider the financial impact it would have on their family? Would they shy away from social invites finding it hard to find the words to succinctly describe the new world they’ve come to live in? Admitting to only themselves, they are unsure how to answer the simple question “ How are you, and how is baby boy George?”
Would Kate immerse herself in maternal guilt.. second thinking herself “ Was it something I did? Those certain vitamins I didn’t take, the extra travel and stress while I was carried my baby” Would William feel guilty too, defeatedly admitting disappointment that his new baby boy may never carry on in his name, his family business, attend his alma mater, or be the social success he once was?
What would happen if Kate and William, were surprised by a birth of a special needs child, and modern parents that they are, openly accepted their new baby boy, even if they too, were unsure what the future would hold? Even if, their new baby boy was born with extra chromosomes, or an unhealthy heart, eyes that couldn’t see, or legs that would never walk, or an obscure, unheard of, genetic condition?
Maybe Kate would give up her career, and confess that she can’t do it all- admit that with only so many hours in the day, and never sleeping through the night, choose to stay home and care for her son. Maybe she would use her talents and abilities to advocate for others like her baby boy, raising awareness. Maybe William would work even harder, trying to financially unite researchers and powerful healthcare institution’s, determined to create innovative clinical studies, and collaborative grants for more research, efforts to fuel his quest to find a cure, do whatever he could to lengthen the life of his child.
Maybe Kate and William would come to the place that all parents of special needs children eventually come to. That time and place when you realize, that your perspective is all you can control in your life.
That money, and status, and other superficial things don’t exist when you look into the eyes of your child, when you feel their pain and celebrate each success. When you realize that parenting this child, and making sure they do everything they were meant to do in this world, is all that really matters.
Because it really doesn’t matter who you are, when you parent a child with special needs, strength and openness is all that is required- for the heartache, for the love, and for the amazing way your child will inspire you.