I’ll never forget the day that we received our daughter’s Down Syndrome diagnosis at just 19 weeks pregnant. There are so many things that I wish I had known then as we went into emotion overload during the following 3 weeks. So, I decided to write a letter to the mother that is just receiving her child’s diagnosis in hopes that it will help relieve some of the emotions that I am sure she is feeling. This is my perspective from when I received Stella’s diagnosis but maybe yours is different.
To the mom that just received her child’s diagnosis, I know that you are heartbroken beyond words.
You feel like you’ve just received the worst possible news. You heart breaks as you realize this is not the child that you dreamt about having. The child that you always planned on having, was going to live a wonderful, happy life full of adventure, playdates, the occasional tantrum, school, dating, marriage and even having a child of their own one day. You’re heart is breaking as you think of your child missing out on any one of those things. You cry because now all you see is your child growing up and being picked on and teased for being different. You are sick to your stomach as you imagine the therapies and doctors appointments that she will have to endure just to do the basic things that other kids do. The tears won’t stop as you grieve the loss of what you thought you were getting.
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, I know you are angry.
You feel betrayed and you want someone to blame-maybe your husband, maybe the doctors, maybe yourself. You are angry with God for letting this “happen” to your child. It’s not fair! You’ve done everything right! You are a good person! Why is this happening to you?! You want to scream, kick and cry, IT’S NOT FAIR!
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, I know you are scared.
You have no idea how to raise a child with different needs. You don’t feel qualified. You’re not strong enough. How can you possibly be a mother to this child? God must have made a mistake, He chose the wrong person! What if she/he doesn’t walk, talk, make friends… What if people make fun of her? Can you handle all of that? There’s no way you are equipped to raise this child!
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, I know you are overwhelmed.
You are feeling every emotion possible and feel like your heart may explode. I know you want to run away and hide. Crying one minute and screaming the next, I see you. You are full of anxiety and worry about your child’s future and your ability to raise her. The pain and overwhelm is almost too much to bare. You think, how can I possibly handle all of this? Please, let this be a dream. Please, take away this pain.
You’re going to be okay
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, you’re going to be okay. I know your heart is broken but I promise that soon, your child will fill it with so much joy. The moment you lay eyes on her, you will know everything is going to be okay. You will laugh more than you cry. You will love harder than you ever have. Your heart will break over and over again but it will also heal over and over again. This child will show you what unconditional love really looks like. You will learn to be strong because she will teach you. She will laugh, she will love, make friends, throw tantrums and be happy and so will you.
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, you’re going to be okay. I know you’re angry but it will subside. The anger will soon be taken over by overwhelming love and joy. You will let the blame go and accept that this is God’s plan and He always knows what He’s doing even if you don’t. The anger may come back at some point, but when it comes it won’t stay long. You will learn how to let it go and focus on the wonder that is your child.
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, you’re going to be okay. I know you are scared but you’ve got this! You are not alone! There is no greater community of mommas than the mommas of children with special needs. We’ve got your back! You will face some scary times but you will overcome them and so will your child. In fact, she will likely teach you how. No one knows how to raise a child but we all figure it out as we go. This child will be no different, you will learn as you go. And what a teacher you have! I know you think you can’t but you can handle this! And when you feel like giving up, call on your tribe! We will be there!
To the mom that just received your child’s diagnosis, you’re going to be okay. I know you’re overwhelmed. Being a mother is the most overwhelming job in the world but it’s also the most rewarding. It’s okay to feel this way. Be sure to take time for yourself on this journey. Rest, get a massage, go out with friends, exercise, take a long bath… take care of you. You don’t have to be a perfect mother and you won’t be. Accept that and love yourself anyway. The joy will always outweigh the pain.
You’re going to be okay!