The words, “your baby has a heart defect,” went straight through me. They changed my whole life in an instant.
I came across this work by Emily Perl Kingsley a few years ago and it instantly resounded with my experience.
When you get on a plane expecting to end up on a glorious vacation in Italy and instead the hostess says, “welcome to Holland,” it makes you stop. Italy is a hard dream to let go! And Holland?! What is even in Holland?!
If I’m being completely honest I felt like I had been cheated. Everyone around me was having healthy babies and I was so happy for them. For them. But here I was “in Holland” with a baby who spent 6 weeks in the hospital before going home for the first time, who has always had tubes, medicines, procedures, and surgeries; a baby whose future was filled with hospital visits. This was not what I had planned! A different life was now being laid out in front of me and I couldn't change a thing.
Whenever a life-changing event like this happens there is grief. Well-meaning people around me encouraged me to have hope, to be joyful, to be content and thankful. For the longest time I just couldn’t be those things. I wanted Italy! I planned on Italy!
But like the author says, Holland is lovely and wonderful in its own way. It took some time to grieve my Italy trip, but now I would never change the view of Holland I have gained from this experience. Holland is beautiful and worthwhile and full of wonder! I got new dreams and a different life than what I had planned, but not a bad one. As Emily Kingsley so wonderfully states, “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.”