Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Chapter Two:
"Grieving for the Child You Didn't Have"
I think you need to grieve for the child you didn't have. You were expecting a healthy baby and now feel cheated over what happened instead. I needed to grieve for the "normal" child I never gave birth to. It's good to get your feelings out and cry. I released a lot of emotion by mourning for the perfect infant I had expected, but didn't have. Then I could start bonding with Amanda and loving her for the sweet baby she was.
Don't make hasty decisions during this grieving time. This isn't the time to give the baby up for foster care or adoption. Give the situation more time and thought, and make every effort to nurture this child. Because of my lingering depression, I did wonder if Amanda would be better off without me for a mother. I knew, however, that I could never give her away and wanted to keep her.
In February when we received a letter form the genetic counselor confirming that Amanda was born with Down syndrome, I saw Tom's sad eyes. And he told me that he was depressed after reading the chromosome information. Even though we expected it was true before receiving the letter, it was still shattering to realize our small iota of hope was taken away from us. Everything was out of our control. Amanda would live her life with an extra chromosome and there was nothing we could do about that.
After receiving the letter, I told Tom, "We shouldn't have had Amanda."
Instantly he replied, "I'm glad we have Amanda."
His love for her was already strong and wasn't diminished just because she was born with a handicap. Probably being busy with teaching helped him get through this difficult time so quicklywhile I was the one with Amanda the most, and so was always focused on her immediate needs and concerned about her future.
Looking back, I know the grieving process was important, so that I was able to get it out of the way and to eventually move on with my life. However, feeling sorry for yourself and your baby too long isn't good. I didn't get professional counseling, but maybe some people might need to go this route to get help.
Just make sure you do not grieve so long for what you have lost, that you miss out on what you have been given.
It's healthy to get your feelings out but if you're in this stage too long, you'll miss out on precious moments of enjoying your baby. And you will have wonderful times with your child with special needs. Later, I'll tell you how much Amanda has added to our whole family structure that I wouldn't have believed possible.