What you don’t know

May 5, 2008 at 11:00 am 1 comment

     Some dear friends had a baby recently; they struggled to conceive and I can’t think of many people who would be better parents than they will be. Their baby is beautiful and the pictures they send are delightful to see. Yet they awaken in me a longing I didn’t even realize was still there. It’s almost a faint memory now, but I do recall the discussion, more by others than by me, about grieving a “normal” birth process. One not caught up by terror and previously unimaginable pain. 

     I recognize a longing not only for a normal birth experience, but for a normal experience with one’s baby and child as well. When I look at pictures of our friends’ baby N, I see the difference I didn’t recognize at the time C was an infant. We were already a family with autism, one that made adjustments in daily life revolving around C’s needs and his rather precarious health. Despite the joy in this wonderful little person we had, there were many years of concern, worry and fear while we tried to sort through his seeming myriad of issues, both developmental and health related. Any parents’ lives change when they have children, but there’s something exponentially more challenging about having something you don’t yet understand happening to your child.     

     I wouldn’t wish our frightful birth experience (and the uncertainty that followed) on anyone, and have often said I don’t really want people to understand because it would mean they have lived through it themselves. I was reminded of how difficult it can be to truly understand another’s experience by a different friend whose lovely baby came along a year or so after C. She called me a few days after coming home from the hospital in desperate, tearful sobs, apologizing profusely for not fully being there for us when C was in the NICU. Her son had spent some time in the NICU, and her fear and uncertainty quickly clarified for her the desperateness of what C’s situation (and therefore ours) had been. I felt terrible that she felt terrible, and while grateful each of us could have some empathy for what the other went through, it made me realize we can never know someone else’s experience lest we walk in their shoes.


Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

What’s all the hugabaloo about? You want to take this one, Daddy?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. FXSmom  |  May 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I understand totally. Excellent point about putting yourself in someone elses shoes.


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