A Letter to My Pregnant Self Before I Had a Child With a Disability
Dear Very Pregnant Self,
I am writing to you from the years ahead because I have a few things that I need to say to you — a few things you need to hear. You may feel like this letter is shaking you by the shoulders, and that’s good, because Lord knows you won’t listen to anyone but yourself. In just a few short weeks, this seemingly endless period of your life will culminate in you bringing a beautiful baby girl into the world. Although, if I’m being honest, those weeks probably won’t seem very short to you either — sciatica, amiright?
Those doctors of yours have worked tirelessly to prepare you for what’s to come, but as it turns out, ultrasound is not a perfect science, and that baby is already throwing curve-balls that no one will see coming. No one can prepare you for what’s to come, including me, but what I am here to say is that you can do this. You will do this.
When that baby comes out, with her head all dented in and her heart failing (I did mention curve-balls, didn’t I?) a very large part of you will want to shut down — you will want to shut off your brain from the immense hurt and shut off your heart from everything around you, including that sweet baby. But don’t you dare. Do you hear me? You will sing to that baby through ugly tears and you will hope against hope that she clears every hurdle she comes up against, because that is what she deserves, and she is counting on you for it.
Because here’s the thing, I am looking at that baby right now as we get ready to celebrate her 3rd birthday. That’s right, she’s going to be 3! And she is absolutely magnificent. She has inherited your insatiable, obsessive love of books, has her dad’s completely ridiculous, class-clowny personality, and she has somehow managed to develop the stubbornness of both of you combined. Best of luck with that. She is, simultaneously, completely her own person. She has a smile that lights up a room and a laugh that lights up the world. There is no other sound like it, and if you want to hear that laugh, if you want to feel it fill you from the top of your head all the way down to your toes, you must believe that you can get through this.
I will not tell you that it won’t be hard. It will be impossibly hard. Your resolve will be tested to its absolute limits, and you will feel yourself crumble to pieces over and over again. But you will stick those pieces back together as best you can, and you will make it through another day. And another day. And another. I will not tell you that it will get easier. Though some things will get easier, some things will actually get harder. Handing your baby girl off to brain and heart surgeons after two and a half years of getting to love her will be harder than when she’s 3 months old. I want you to know this though — listen, because this part is important– there will be more good days than there are bad, there will be more laughter than there are tears, and there will be more joy than there is sorrow.
You will be transformed through this process. You will learn to stand up for that amazing little girl, and you will learn to stand up for yourself. Yes, you, who balks at the mere idea of confrontation, you will become a fierce advocate for your daughter. She will light a wildfire within you that even Smokey the Bear will stand back and admire. She will make you a more complete person.
One last bit of advice — you will need to take time for yourself. You will need to breathe. You will need to admit when things are too hard. As much as she needs you, you need her that much more. As much as she will break you, she will also be the one that fixes all of the broken bits of you. But, you can do this, and you will do this.
With much love and admiration,
Your Future Self
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