It was a very emotional moment between Sharanya and Karthik for, as she got ready to see Ananya, she could completely commune with his longing and frustration to see their little one. They could not understand why the fathers were not being allowed to see their children. Weren’t fathers as much a parent as the mothers? But what choice did they have in this matter?
Tears pooled in Karthik’s eyes. “When you hold the baby, hug her close…and stroke her on my behalf. Tell her Papa loves her a lot and desperately awaits her. Assure her not to worry and she will be home very soon.” At these words, for the first time after delivery, both felt pain and helplessness for their little one. So far they had only been braving it out.
It did not matter what dreams they had weaved before, for now what really mattered was her well-being in the future. God forbid, if things don’t turn out as they hope, Ananya would have much to contend with, during her entire life…why all this had to happen to only their child? Karthik’s torment hit Sharanya and she broke down sobbing, while Karthik sat grieving. It was an unforgettable, shattering moment.
Inside the NICU, Sharanya was guided towards the baby and taught how to hold her. Her peacefully asleep baby appeared to be the cutest creature around.
“Does she cry?”, she enquired with the nurse, curious to know Ananya.
“Yes, why not? She has the loudest wail around. Wait for five minutes. It’s her feed time. The minute we delay, look how she cries.”, replied the nurse.
The nurse was right. The nurse also further added that whenever Ananya pooped and peed, she would keep wailing loudly, until she was cleaned up. Sharanya felt proud of Ananya, for she could clearly see that her baby was smart and aware of her needs.
Karthik was pleased at the feedback. The baby was doing well. A reputed surgeon even came to visit her and assured them that with the right course of treatment, there could be complete correction of the deformity and Ananya will be able to walk normally, though all that would take a while and quite some efforts on the part of parents. The only thing would be that she would need some therapies later, after she begins to walk. The couple remained reassured.
In a few days Sharanya and her baby were discharged. Relatives kept calling and poured in to see the baby. Many questions, comments, doubts and suggestions followed. But the parents remained imperturbable, for the choice to stay objective was already made. At this stage of their married life, they had wanted this blessing more than anything else in the world and if they were to be blessed in this way, they were willing to accept it. They were willing to accept it any which way. Their commitment to this love of their union far exceeded any insecurity which seemed trivial.
Today, due to the staunchly positive attitude, held by her parents, Ananya is a bright, cheerful four-year old who walks to school with little to no traces of her past deformity. She runs around like a normal child and enjoys playing with her friends. Her father has even begun to dream of making her a dancer or a football player, considering her love for both these activities. Would all this have been possible without the BELIEF and PRAGMATISM on the part of her parents?
I am sharing this story because birth defects and normalcy issues are found with many children, born in today’s times, for unidentified reasons. Most of the times, families find it traumatic to confront the fact that their child is differently abled and it becomes a matter of immense concern for the parents, who are suddenly thrust into battling unknown challenges involved in raising a special needs child, over the daily pressures of life. It’s a different matter that the couple also develops a fear of having further children, especially when they are first time parents.
However, we are lucky enough to be living in an age, where every kind of support is available at our doorstep, thanks to the continual advancements in medical and technological science. While I am empathetic about the fact that not all defects can be completely corrected and sometimes, we might have to live on with the handicaps, few things that the parents, who are into such situations, could do is:
(1) Come to terms – This is extremely important. Even before we begin treating the child, it’s a must deal with our own feelings and slowly accept the situation, irrespective of “what our expectations were” or “what others say”.
If required, you could undertake professional counselling with a psychologist, but make sure to brace yourself, so that you are mentally better equipped for all that you are about to deal.
(2) Stay positive – Every child is born with an innate spirit to fight out his / her own negative condition and which they will do, but only if they have our support and confidence.
Somewhere the child in question is also aware that it needs help. Here, the parents’ attitude has a tremendous impact, on the child’s ability to garner confidence and overcome dependence. So, always maintain a cheerful, loving spirit and a supportive stance towards such child. Keep looking out for little triumphs, while constantly figuring out ways to encourage and help the child towards better achievements. Positive motivation aids in faster improvements.
(3) Allow time – These children might be slower to progress than an average normal child. Some may even struggle with attaining the normal, basic milestones, while needing a longer time to combat their inabilities. A lot of nurturing, as such would be required here to build the child’s psyche and morale. Hence, instilling feelings of inadequacy would only prove detrimental.
Further, it would be highly unfair to compare them with their peers, as it may only lead to demotivation and additional failures. Wouldn’t it rather be better to make the peers understand the problems of this child and work towards creating a positive environment, in the form of caring and supportive friends, for your little one with special needs? This would go a long way in making the child feel more secure and confident.
(4) Do smart work- Follow doctors advise but you could also read, research to gather information about what to expect and find out ways to effectively deal with it.
Set reasonable developmental goals, in consultation with the child’s therapists and doctors and review these periodically, watching out for definite signs of progression or regression.
Stay co-ordinated with the child’s therapists, doctors and teachers for updates on his developments while maintaining a log book, to record the milestones attained vs. expectations Regular assessments provide a clear update, besides a benchmark to plan the next steps and determine modifications, if any, needed on the current.
(5) Ignore unnecessary gossips – Being parent, you are sole owner of the rights and responsibilities of the child and that makes you the person in charge. Never fail to stand up for your child, wherever necessary, for no one has any business here, except you and the doctors. Ignore irrelevant labrish and where required don’t step behind, from giving back. A positive environment must be essentially maintained, if you want to see progress in your child.
Trust your instincts, think logically and take practical decisions, to make your own as well as your child’s path easier and less stressful, irrespective of what people would think or say. Just do what you feel right in the interests of your child, in consultation with doctors.
Special needs children are born with a rare gift of innocence, an amazing spirit of positivity and a tremendous ability to rise above challenges, to safeguard which, becomes our primary duty, as a caregiver. Things will fall in place in their own way, in due course but we have to allow them (and ourselves), that opportunity and time. Forbearance is the key. Stay focussed on doing the right things and in the right manner.
Besides, we live in a modern world. As time progresses, we are always going to be presented with a multitude of fresh choices and new perspectives, a gift of consistent research and evolution, where every individual is going to get their unique kind of opportunities to thrive. So, there’s always hope at the end of the tunnel. It’s only that the tread is on a distinct path. All one has to do is, stay courageous, keep looking out and remain alert to the developments.
So, loads of cheers to all those courageous Moms and Dads here, parenting a special needs child and here’s wishing them every success.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Momspresso.com (formerly mycity4kids). Any omissions or errors are the author’s and Momspresso does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.