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Letter – from one mother to another
Accepting normal when you have had one child already diagnosed with special needs
I wrote this in response to a post on a parenting forum. The mother had one special needs child (severely by the sounds of it) and was pregnant. As is fairly common these days, she has been tested extensively to see if the child she’s carrying could have the same congenital defect her first child had.
Her baby was pronounced “normal” and she faced warring emotions over that declaration. My response, was essentially that this was normal, especially for her.
In response to possibilities and parenthood:
Having three special guys myself, I have to say I admire your honesty. During my second and third pregnancies I, too, was faced with the myriad tests and ultrasounds, all trying to determine if my next child would be “normal” or not.
What I’ve found? Is that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to raising kids. And once you’ve raised a special needs child you understand this a little more. The little things that are part and parcel of the typical joys of parenthood: his first smile, his first reaction to his name, his first (and maybe only) word …these are the things that we hold our breaths and count as victories for our children, and for ourselves.
You will be an amazing mother, if nothing else, because having had a special needs baby has taught you something else about parenting that you can’t read or learn any other way: it’s not only okay, but it is a given that you will notice and cherish every single challenge and hurdle your child crosses in their development. Yes, you might find yourself hyper aware, but you will also find yourself smiling because your child is smiling, seeing it for the minor miracle that it is.
I might have my three special boys, but I remember being where you are right now, and the questions I faced were similar. These are the little things that stay in the back of our minds, that haunt us a little because we can’t help but feel guilty about it. Don’t feel guilty, though, feel proud. You understand how awesome it is to have a special needs child, and not everyone else can say the same thing.
So, yeah … a little cheesy maybe, but I do think that special needs parents have a deeper understanding of the fragility of life and development, as well as an understanding of how important the little things are.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.