This time last year my friend's and I were all getting ready to have our babies. Jennifer and Bethany already had delivered and Lindsay and Rachel were about to. It was a time that was exciting as so many of us were pregnant together and thinking about our futures with these new, chubby loves.
Yesterday was Chloe's one year birthday party! It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we first saw her face. It's hard to believe how much has changed in one year. But what hasn't changed is how beautiful and lovely this girl is!... I'm purposing in my heart to enjoy these milestones. I have two redheads who deserve a mommy who is full of joy! I have friends whose babies are doing great things and are developing quickly and that is cause for celebration. I don't want to lose myself in the focus on what could be going on with Mabel. But as you can tell from my every post, even if I think about other things, do other things, talk about other things-- Mabel and what could be happening is always on my mind. It never leaves. It's a very familiar voice whispering to my spirit. Since we started riding this train with Mabel I have had so many ups and downs. I usually struggle with events like birthdays or any outings where people may see Mabel and question what is 'wrong with her.' Yesterday was different. Lindsay is so special to me and I love her and her children so deeply. My desire is to still be able to find great joy and enjoyment in these moments even though these moments for Mabel will look much different than they do for other children. When I think about Mabel on her first birthday, I have to accept that it will not be as it 'should' be or what I thought it would be. I can't change it and I am at peace with that. But it doesn't make it much easier.
My new blog friend, Bethany, reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and we have emailed back and forth a few times since then. Her daughter has some of the same issues as Mabel so it has been nice to connect with someone who understands how I'm feeling and what I'm going through day to day. She sent me a poem that pricked my heart so deeply. I want to share because I never want to lose it or forget it.
Welcome To Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... 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.