Dear New Mom of a Newborn with a Syndrome,
I don’t know you personally, but because your sister is a friend of my sister, I saw on social media that you gave birth to a special little baby this week.
Congratulations, momma. Your son is beautiful. He is perfect. He is strong and valiant.
I’m writing this not because I think you need to hear it, but because seeing snatches of you and your baby have washed a wave of memories over me. I’m writing because my own experience delivering a special baby has all bubbled to the surface and I need to put it down.
Looking at your beautiful, weary face reminded me of the stress and uncertainty that ate at me when my own son was born with a rare syndrome nearly ten years ago. The anxiety of not knowing what the future held for my cherished baby was like a thief, stealing away much of the joy accompanying his birth. If I could, I would tell ten-years-ago me to hold onto the joy anyway—to be less afraid and more ardently, tenaciously hopeful.
Seeing you gaze at your tiny baby in your arms was a spiritual experience for me. It was a visual portrayal of something very sacred: a special little soul has joined your family, and you will never be the same again. Your special baby will make your whole family special.
Thinking back on the springtime birth of my second son, I remember feeling guilty–like I was to blame because I was his mother and had clearly done something wrong. I also felt the need to explain to anyone who called or visited that something was up with my baby. He was different. I realize now that I was unwittingly progressing through the stages of grief. I was grieving the “perfect” infant I thought I would deliver.
The clarity of hindsight afforded me by the last ten years helps me see clearly now what was murky back then. Your baby’s condition, whatever it entails, doesn’t have to be tragic. He is beginning his own story, apart from you physically, yet intrinsically connected to you in other ways.
His journey may not look like yours, or his siblings’ or cousins’. My advice is to resist the urge to be heartbroken by this. His path may look different, but it is his.
My own trek through the wilderness of raising special children has distilled in me something I wouldn’t have believed ten years ago, but which I now know to be completely true: things will be okay.
Life as you know it may change; you will change. But with faith and a great deal of effort, it’s going to work out.
I believe that God sent you your valiant, special son. His birth in your family was not accidental, but a gift.
I know this is true of my family, with my two special sons. They aren’t a mistake. They are evidence of God’s goodness. Their spirits are perfect, though their bodies and minds are not.
I can’t tell the old me this, because she is long gone, but I can say it to you, beautiful, tired new mom: your little gift, your little boy, is going to make you strong and wise and happy because he is yours.
You can do it.
God will help.