Friday, September 30, 2011

Welcome to Holland

I was reminded of my journey through Holland this week when a friend of a friend who I have gotten to know over the past few years had her little girl who is blessed with a designer gene. They were given some information early on, but had opted to "wait and see" as opposed to having an amnio done. We chatted briefly through texting and they are so happy to have their little girl here with them, but I am sure I can only imagine how they are feeling.

Chris and I lived in a fog for a week until Colin's diagnosis was confirmed a week later. Despite the fact that I knew he had Down Syndrome, the day the diagnosis came in was the hardest day I have ever faced. My friend Jorie had brought a packet of information for me to the hospital and one of the things she had found was Emily Perl Kingsley's "Welcome to Holland". I didn't stumble across it until the day the diagnosis came through "officially" and I fell in love with it.

Although I can give lots of advice to new moms and dads of a child with a designer gene, it is still a journey we all need to go through alone and in our own way.

To any new mom or dad...

#1 - no matter what you are feeling, it is ok. Until you get comfortable where you are, there are going to be lots of different things that you may feel and go through.

#2 - Enjoy your little baby. I think that worrying comes with the territory, but just enjoy them and love them.

#3 - I promise you, your life will be changed in so many wonderful and beautiful ways...

Welcome, my friend, to Holland...

Welcome To Holland
Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

1 comment:

Nana said...

I always find that so touching and so true! God bless all! Love, Nana