Breathless

Every child brings complications. They cry in the middle of the night, wet their beds, make messes ten minutes after you clean the house. They rebel, push boundaries, and get themselves in dangerous situations. You can expect them to slam their fingers in doors, touch hot stoves, and probably break bones. You will worry yourself sick about them and their potential. They will get picked on and might even pick on someone else. There will be times they scare you and leave you breathless…

Breathless…

That’s how you’ll feel when they are one minute old, breathless. Totally dependent with no chance of survival without someone to care for them, and a nurse will place that hopeless, clueless life in your arms. In the moment you will share your first taste of empathy. You will feel clueless – “how will I care for her?” You will feel hopeless – “I don’t think I can do it.” But you’ll look at those blinking, puffy, navy blue eyes and be overwhelmed with a new manifestation of love… and feel breathless.

That moment, the calm just after the pain of delivery has passed and the pain of parenting begins is the moment, is the moment that vanquishes fear and nurtures hope for a parent.

I know the seemingly unique fear of raising a child with a disability. I know what it is to have other children call your child terrible things because the are ignorant and can be cruel. I know the frustration of wanting to communicate with your child but being divided by a lack of time and language. I’ve been the parent to get angry at my son only to realize my anger was with the disability. I know shame. I know guilt. But more importantly, I know my son.

I’ve felt his loving hugs and reassuring pats on the back. I’ve seen him smile so hard it makes other people’s cheeks hurt. We share a love for sports and our family. I am his father and he is my son and there is no qualification.

If you are one who has received a prenatal diagnosis and learned your child isn’t perfect, I can only imagine your fear and sadness. If you’ve been told your child will likely die very soon after they are born, I’m sure you must be crushed. But I beg you to let yourself have that breathless moment with your child. No diagnosis, no prediction, and no symptom can steal that moment.

Those of us who have lost children in the womb, before that moment, know all too well the unfulfilled longing that won’t be satisfied this side of eternity. Give yourself that moment. Do everything you can to get there. Don’t quit on yourself and don’t quit on her. Just get there. Then see what happens next…

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One comment

  1. What could be more heartfelt, more honest and more true than what you have written Ryan. It is so wonderful to see such wisdom in someone so young. Thank you my friend, God Bless…

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