Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome to Holland

Sometimes it feels like I've been missing out on the "normal" sort of baby development experiences with Norah. When I visit her at the hospital, I see that she's grown. She smiles at me with the sweetest grin. I'm so thankful for those sweet quiet moments with her. But what about the others? What about the endless cuddles? What about hauling her around with me snuggled in an infant carrier or wrap? I can only plant so many smooches on that sweet face during our visits, and it doesn't make up for the millions of kisses I wish I could give her all day. Okay, maybe I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself at the moment, especially with it being her 2-month birthday. But a mom without her baby sure feels unnatural.

I miss her dearly, but I remind myself of the many things we do have. I remind myself of the fulfilling life that Norah will lead, when others aren't so lucky. We would never want any other baby instead of her. She may not be typical, but she sure is perfect. With that being said, I'd like to share something that I adore. It's undoubtedly given comfort to many families, including ours.

Welcome to Holland
by 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.
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