When you’re childfree and overflowing with fuzzy dreams about how your shot at motherhood will go, you never expect to find yourself with a child with additional health challenges. Statistics are something that happen to other people, right?
Don’t get me wrong, you know that nothing is a given. But in your heart of hearts, you don’t expect to be ‘that Mum’. The one that gets the sympathetic looks. The one that people are afraid of saying the wrong thing to. The one that gets respect but that nobody wants to be.
Cystic Fibrosis. Epidermolysis Bullosa. Cerebal Palsy. Down Syndrome. Epilepsy. Autism. ANYTHING can land at your door. There is always a condition that’s ‘better’. And there’s always a condition that’s worse. And while you hope your children will be blessed with good health and a straightforward path, there are no guarantees.
I wanted to write this piece for Mums who are dealing with a diagnosis, whatever that diagnosis might be. No matter how serious or manageable. Because I was that Mum. I am that Mum. And I want to give you some hope.
You can’t wave a magic wand and fix your child’s ills. You can’t stick your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. And you can’t run away from the fact that you’ve become ‘that Mum’. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
You will have a bond with your child that is completely unbreakable. You will learn new skills and gain new strength. You will make the most of every single day, because you understand that nothing in this life can be taken for granted.
Yes, you will cry. Yes, you will feel sorry for yourself sometimes (you’re human). You will look at friends who seem to have it ‘easy’ and wonder, why me? Why us? You will curse God or the lack of one. You will fight with your partner or family out of sheer frustration. You will cry when no one is watching. And you will feel hurt that you never dreamed possible.
But you will get back up. You will channel your explosive emotions into positive action and you will make a difference to your child and to the world – they are after all, one and the same thing.
When you receive a new diagnosis, it’s a lot to take in. Sometimes, too much. It’s overwhelming and you can feel like you’re drowning in a sea of worry, fear and self-doubt at your ability to cope. But believe me, whatever your child has got, YOU’VE GOT THIS. Your love for them will inspire you and change you in ways you never thought possible. So keep your chin up. Keep your heart open. And most importantly, keep your faith in yourself. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
Illustration courtesy of Olivia Golden