Receiving the News
I remember very clearly the day our pediatrician told me and my husband about our daughter's disability. She had been born eleven weeks premature, and we knew she had suffered some brain damage during the emergency c-section, but despite those facts, we still hoped for the best. At six months old, we knew she was behind developmentally, but we thought it was because of her prematurity. At the doctor's office, however, we found out differently. He told us it looked like she had symptoms of cerebral palsy and that the best thing for her would be to get involved in occupational and physical therapy right away. My husband sat there, stunned. I held my sleeping daughter in my arms with one question racing through my mind. I had to ask, "Does this mean she could be in a wheelchair the rest of her life?"
When he answered, I began to cry and the doctor came over and hugged me and my daughter.
That was nearly five years ago. I did not cope very well with the news. I felt a myriad of emotions - sadness, guilt, overwhelmed, anxious, scared - all of which led me into a state of depression. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have had an easier time dealing with this news. That's why I'd like to share.
Acceptance of your child's special needs can be very difficult. Every parent wants their child to be healthy and whole. "As long as my baby's healthy" is often what parents say when asked if they want a boy or a girl. When it turns out the baby is not healthy, it can be very traumatic.
The most helpful thing to accept what is going on with your son or daughter is to grieve what your child may never be. One of the things I had to grieve was that I might never be able to see my daughter take her first steps. A parent of an autistic child may have to grieve the loss of their child ever having an in-depth conversation. Depending on the child's disability, the grieving will be different for each case.
During the grieving process, remember that is okay to cry and to feel sad. It's important to feel these feelings instead of trying to stuff them down deep inside, which could ultimately lead to depression, as it did with me. The important thing is to not stay stuck in these emotions.