Pregnancy is one of the most emotionally-charged events in a woman’s life. Often, the mother-to-be goes through a roller coaster of emotions, from ecstatic and overjoyed to worried and anxious. The anxiety always stems from not knowing if her baby will be born healthy or with complications.
A mother’s worst fear is knowing that her child will be born with some kind of medical condition. While it’s understandable, these fears can be managed if you reframe your thought process and treat a baby diagnosed with special needs not as a burden, but as a bundle of joy that requires extra love.
In a lot of cases, moms-to-be will blame themselves—they’ll think they didn’t take enough vitamins, or maybe they ate or drank something they shouldn’t have—but at the end of the day, these things can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, few of which involve human intervention.
Some mothers will feel an overwhelming sense of pressure, even guilt; a lot of women blame themselves for their baby’s condition, despite the fact that special needs diagnoses like Down’s syndrome or autism can occur naturally.
Yes, those conditions mean that your child will go through a very different process of growing up compared to other children, but this just means that they will be born unique and no less worthy of love and care. Some mothers take this opportunity to learn even more about their baby: what their needs will be and how they can be better mothers in the process.
It can be easy to fall into a blackhole of despair during these moments, but it’s important to remember: it’s not your fault and your baby will be beautiful, flaws and all.
As your due date looms nearer, some mothers ask themselves: how can I prepare for such a momentous occasion? How can I make sure that my baby gets the special needs that they deserve? We’ve compiled a short list of things that could help you in your wonderful journey with your special bundle of joy.
Get to Know Your Baby and Their Condition
The internet has given us unlimited access to information regarding pretty much anything we can think of. Some mothers, craving more information about their baby and their diagnosis, will be tempted to go online to find out as much as they can. But be cautious: not everything you see on the internet is reliable.
Some websites might claim to have the information you need, but a lot of websites will also show you the worst possible scenario for you and your baby, and that’s not necessarily healthy. When looking online, always make sure that your sources are reliable and credible. Don’t fall for fear-mongering sites that encourage you to buy dubious ointments or medicines that claim to “cure” your baby’s condition.
The best way to educate yourself? Consult your doctor, ask them for credible and reliable resources that you can read, research on your baby’s condition and don’t be afraid to ask your primary medical provider about any questions you might have, and always get a second, even a third, opinion. You can also try talking to parents of children with similar diagnoses, as they can help you prepare mentally and emotionally for the journey of raising a special needs child.
It’s Ok to Feel Overwhelmed
Despite all the joy and wonder that your special needs child will bring you, some parents may feel overwhelmed and even find themselves going through the stages of grief: denial, anger, and even sadness can come from knowing that your child has a special condition. And that’s ok. Allow yourself the emotional space to feel your feelings without guilt.
Talk it out with your partner; this is the time that couples will have to rely on each other psychologically and emotionally. Don’t be afraid to have open, respectful, and most importantly loving, dialogues to help you be ok. Learn how to channel your energies into becoming better people, better partners, and ultimately, better people.
Remember: the last stage of grief is acceptance, and when you reach it, you will find an infinite well of unconditional love and hope for your child.
Plan for the Future with Hope
Raising a special needs child will often require parents to ask hard questions about their finances: will we be able to afford to send our child to a special school? How will we be able to afford the special equipment our child needs to help them with their daily tasks? Some children with special needs might require motorized wheelchairs, feeding tubes, oxygen tanks, and even special medical equipment.
It can take awhile to get used to the idea, but a lot of parents with special needs children say that, once the initial shock of this huge life change wears off, most of the special care becomes routine. And while some routines can be harder than some, most parents will feel an even closer bond with their child because of it.
Again, talk with your partner, find out what the both of you can do to earn as much money as you need so that you and your family can live comfortably while providing your special needs child with all the help they can get. Consult with financial planners and figure out a financial plan that will afford you a secure future, with enough leeway for future therapies, special education, hospitalization, further equipment or even emergency procedures.
It can be daunting, even overwhelming, but with the right attitude and a lot of hard work, even this can be resolved.
Always remember: your child is more than their condition, more than their disability, and more than enough. Beyond the anxiety of expecting to care for a special needs child, remember that it will be your child, and that they will be loved wholeheartedly no matter what.
Don’t be afraid of the challenges that lie ahead, plan for your future, and always remain loving.