Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome to Holland

I recently found the following passage, written by Emily Perl Kingsley, on a blog I follow. It struck me immediately as exactly what I would say about having a child with a disability/handicap if I were creative enough to do so. Thought I'd share it with you...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in a says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around....and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

by Emily Perl Kingsley

I don't necessarily feel the pain she describes, but I do feel the loss...the loss of the dream of the perfect childbirth experience and the newborn experience that most mommies get to enjoy. But, she is so right. If we spend our lives mourning what might have been, we don't get to enjoy the wonderful moments we are having right now. Toby and I are thoroughly enjoying every moment with Sophia - in Holland!

On a lighter note...I would probably adjust the story above from, "Afer months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go.", to "After an early and unexpected departure and subsequent detour, off you go without your bags!"


Lanny said...

I love tulips. They are one of my most favorite flowers. Can I join you in Holland and can Sophia be my very special tulip?

Brenda said...

that is great Susan and I am very proud of you

rachelshingleton said...

Hahaha, yeah, I'm with you -- I didn't have my tickets or baggage yet either!

A great post about what it's like to be a NICU mom. It was definitely the biggest rollercoaster we'd ever been on. But we will never forget those who helped us along the way. Definitely a blessing in disguise.