Welcome to Holland

I remember when my husband and I decided we were ready to have children. We were going through some big life changes and were excited to add this one to the mix.

My husband had just received his PhD and a new job in Texas. I was ready to leave the corporate world and focus on our new home and family. We found a house with a room we could fashion into the perfect nursery – sunny, lots of room and very inviting. We were positively giddy thinking about the possibilities. Then a terrible thing happened. I lost my first pregnancy… and my second… then my third. We were devastated. I was ashamed and angry and confused and jealous of every friend and family member who was able to have what I so desperately wanted. It was a very lonely time. I can remember pleading with God, questioning why this was happening to me… bargaining. All I wanted was one healthy and happy baby.

Be very careful what you wish for.

Our first daughter was born two years after our first loss. When the doctor placed her on my chest for the first time I felt like I was reborn, right there with her. I was finally a mother! I thanked God for answering my prayers.

We knew our girl was a little different from the very beginning. So did other people. Not in a “bad” way, but she was not like other babies her age. At two months, we placed her side by side with our friends’ baby and could tell right away. Our girl was extremely alert. She noticed every movement, noise and smell in the room. The other baby rested placidly in her bouncy seat. Our girl would not settle for sitting back, she wanted to be part of the action. The other baby cooed and worked on her binky. Our girl got over-stimulated by the motions, lights, smells and sounds and cried until I tucked her into her snugli and gently covered her head with a blanket. The other baby fell asleep in front of the football game.

As she got older, we noticed that she was verbal earlier than most. She could count to 10 and recite her ABCs by 13 months, and pick them all out in random order by 15 months. She had some wicked tantrums way before the “terrible twos.” Words like “intense” and “high needs” were offered by well-meaning family members and friends to describe her along with an avalanche of suggestions on how they would handle this or that. I read every parenting book and magazine article I could get my hands on and ended up realizing that only I could know what is best for my daughter. She was never a textbook kind of girl anyway.

Eighteen months after our first child was born, I got pregnant again. This time, I had some experience and confidence under my belt. I felt certain I could handle whatever God or whoever threw my way. Ha! I was just asking for trouble. At 35 weeks, I had a routine checkup and the doctor noticed my baby’s heart was slow. My blood pressure was through the roof and there was a lot of protein in my urine. An unscheduled sonogram showed a placental abruption too. Within 30 minutes of the initial appointment, my baby was born. She had to have epinephrine to start her heart as soon as she was taken from my body. At just 3 ½ pounds, she remained in the NICU for three weeks to gain weight. Luckily, she didn’t have to have any breathing or feeding tubes. She was just under 4 pounds when they let us bring her home. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I’d been through some trying times and I knew I could do this. And I did.

Between my two daughters, we’ve seen more than our fair share of doctors, specialists, therapists, analysts… you name it. My older one has a seizure disorder and may be dealing with social delays caused by social integration disorder, Asperger Syndrome or ADHD (to be determined when we have her evaluated at the end of the month) and my younger one has to have her heart and development monitored periodically because she was a preemie born with a heart condition. On paper, they might sound imperfect, but you know what?? They are PERFECT in every way. I don’t take a single one of their achievements for granted because we’ve had to fight for them.

A dear friend sent this to me and I think it sums up my experience perfectly. I’m not sure where the plane is going to land in my motherhood journey. Right now, I’m flying over France. Whether the plane goes north or south, the view will be spectacular.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to Holland

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I would like to copy the “Welcome to Holland” piece you linked to. I am going to be working with many families like yours and I would like to be able to share that with them.

  2. The truth is, it is always a trip to Holland. Each child is unique and comes with their own problems and joys. The “normal” child is quite rare. It is just that we can see the ticket has been mismarked more easily with some kids than others. And some children offer us more challenges than the next kid will.

    But whatever, they bring a blessing.
    Hugs to your two blessings…and to you.

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