I was already a mother three times over when the little line turned positively pink for a fourth time. My husband and I both grew up in big families, but even so…there was a moment (or two) when we both thought, “Can we do this? Can our hearts raise four children?” That expectant hope seemed to evaporate quickly and was replaced by crushing sadness when, twenty-six short weeks later, our daughter was stillborn. I know that had Teresa lived, I would be the mother of a child with special needs.
It has always been my heartfelt belief that the spirit of each child chooses his mother and father for a reason. Maybe that belief formed itself out of the exhausted frustration of nursing babies in the middle of the night and coaxing them back to sleep in order to see some purpose to this part of life.
Maybe it’s not really true… but I hope it is. When I meet a family whose child has been labeled a ‘special needs child’ by the people who need those labels more than I do, I want to reach out and tell them what I have come to believe about being chosen by a special child whose heart didn’t form properly. My daughter was a living part of our family for a very short time, but she taught the grownups and her siblings things we would have never learned about ourselves without her.
I serve as the physician for a number of families who have welcomed a child with special needs. Each of them teaches me something valuable every time we speak. One of those families sent me this video clip:
As I raise the children who have chosen me to be their mom, and as I celebrate the day my daughter, Teresa Christine, was stillborn, I am reminded that the wisdom of these special parents is for allparents:
- Nothing you’ve ever done can prepare you for this.
- Your child will teach you far more than you will ever teach her.
- You will experience a kind of love that few will ever be lucky enough to understand.
- Believe that you know your child best.
- Don’t be afraid. You were born for this.