Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Italy or Holland?

I'm letting go. Of what you ask? The idea of what normal is. The idea of what life should look like. MY idea that is. You see I have realized over the past few weeks that part of the reason that I feel so overwhelmed by doctors appointments is because they are not in my plan.
A long time ago...well maybe not that long...I had this image of what my "family" would be. I had this picture of my bulging belly. I could see Jason holding my hand as I brought our child into the world. I knew it would all be perfect and beautiful.
Well the bulging belly never happened for me. It was actually very easy for me to let go of that having a biological child. I know some people really struggle, but it wasn't that hard for Jason and I to accept that we would adopt and move on.
Then I had this idea of how our adoption would work out. Our adoption attorney would call and tell us a baby had been born and we could go pick her up from the hospital. We would get her and she would be perfect. That is not at all how it worked out. I am glad because Abigail's birth mom was amazing and I would have really missed out if I had not gotten to spend so much time with her.
So then once we had been chosen I felt like things were going smooth. The birth mother was awesome and let me come to appointments. She invited me to be in the room while she gave birth. She sat and told me stories about her and her family. It was great. Finally I could stop letting go of what I wanted. This was exactly what I wanted.
Then came the day of Abigail's birth. She was supposed to come out crying. She did not. She came out not breathing and they called a code. She was in the NI CU for three days but over all that went well and ended up being not so bad.
From there though I still had my thoughts. Abigail and I would be home together everyday. We would go to story hour, grocery shopping, read books, go on walks, and eagerly await Jason coming home from work everyday. That part is mostly true. For the first eight months aside from the frequent ear infections things were pretty smooth. Abigail was such an easy baby. Slept for eight hours at night at eight weeks. By four months was doing eleven hour nights. Did all of the "drop evening nap" and other things in the time the books said. She was not strong willed, slept in her bed, ate broccoli, drank water...you know all the things a kid with an easy personality would do.
Then came the day that God showed me I needed to let go. The day of the beginning of lots more doctors appointments, lots more worry, lots more figuring out what I believed about God. That day I have written specifically about in other post, but that is not what this is about. This is about letting go.
I have gone through a range of emotions. First was bewildering numbness. Then came a period were I cried all the time. I have gotten angry. I have felt sorry for myself. I have been sad for my daughter. I sometimes feel all of these things on the same day.
I recently realized that I had been to a doctor with Abigail every week for 12 weeks straight. I don't know how to describe that realization. I am tired of doctors, and I can't imagine how tired she is of someone she is unfamiliar with looking her over, listening to her heart, holding her down, being there when she wakes up in an unfamiliar place...and so on. This was not on my schedule of things I would be doing as a stay at home mom. It isn't in there with reading books, giggling, and taking walks.
Once again though I am letting go. So we go to the doctor a lot. That is part of MY staying at home. Some families do all the things I listed and that's it. However God formed my little girl together in her tummy mommy's womb. He knew her and knew what her future held. He knew what my plans were, and He knew that they would be changed.
He knew that I would have to learn to let go. I believe every parent who has a child with special needs will tell you that you work through acceptance. Part of working through it is coming to terms with letting go of what you are still trying to hold on to. Letting go of what "normal" is and moving on with what your "normal" is now.
There is a poem that I thought I would end with because it describes well the feeling I am trying to portray.

Welcome to Holland
by: Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not experienced that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
When you are 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 and 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 have been there for a while, you catch your breath and you look around....you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandt's.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they are 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.

This poem is beautiful. So I'm learning to let go of Italy. I still talk to lots of people there. I have wonderful friends who I'm glad did not also end up in Holland. And I have met some truly amazing people in Holland. I am thankful for Holland. But am still sad about not being in Italy.

Our beautiful little Holland :)

Letting go,


  1. Thanks for this, Andrea. I also did not end up in Italy. Or Holland. I think I'm in Iceland or something. Some days it's easy to embrace. Lately, it's been harder. I'm constantly learning to let go and be content where I am.

  2. Letting go of Italy with you... I love this story! I posted it on my own blog a few years ago. :)