Not long after Eva’s poor weigh in I had occasion to buy 1kg of Butter. I often buy 1kg of flour or rice but I just pick up the packet and don’t really give the weight much thought. This time as I stood there holding 1kg of butter in my hands I looked to Eva and realised that at birth she weighed less than what I hold in my hands. It made me remember that she has come so far since her arrival into the world at 790g with her lowest weight being 625g.
Recently we joined a premature baby support group here in Melbourne, Life’s Little Treasures. They run a local morning tea monthly and I have enjoyed seeing and hearing from other premature baby mums. The following poem was on the back of the welcome booklet and I wanted to share it. It is written in relation to a child with a life long disability but I still feel that I can relate to it in terms of the first few months of Eva’s life.
Welcome to Holland
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 even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After several 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 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 but 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 placed than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there awhile 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 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.
(Copyright 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.)