Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Unexpected Life

When I get to the point in a prenatal visit when I must talk about "unexpected outcomes" with my doula clients, I get a bit nervous.

Why? Because I know that most of the time, my clients will be reluctant to discuss what would happen in the event of: a cesarean section, a stillbirth, a child with a medical or health condition, caring for a child with special needs...the list goes on.

When we become pregnant with our first child, we generally put on our rose-coloured glasses, and have a hard time contemplating what life would be like if things didn't go the way we imagined them. I know this, because I did it too.

I remember watching an episode of Oprah during my pregnancy, which showcased "real" moms talking about the truth of motherhood - what things are really like. I turned the TV off and called my own mom in a panic, and asked her "is it really that bad!?" The feedback I got from her, and from other moms, was that I had nothing to worry about. It's Oprah after all, not real life!

Fast forward several months, and I realized that a lot of the women speaking on that Oprah episode were right - I had fallen down the rabbit hole and wasn't coming up anytime soon. And I had a healthy baby!! Imagine the shock I may have experienced with a baby who was sick.

We can never fully prepare for an unexpected outcome, because clearly, we don't know what it will be like, or how we will react. But that doesn't mean that we need to shut our eyes and plug our ears - discussing the unthinkable may help us to realize that we are not in control. And that's OK. The more we let go of control, the better chance we have at surviving a crisis in our lives.

I would like to share an incredible blog by a woman I know, Julie Keon. Julie was my childbirth educator during my pregnancy, and I will never forget the moment that she took out a picture of her daughter and passed it around to our class. She was illustrating the fact that pregnancy and birth are unpredictable. We hope for the best, but we should also open our eyes to the possibility of hardship and loss.

As I have been reading through Julie's posts, I realize how imporant it is for other mothers to share the joys and challenges of leading a different kind of life - an unexpected life. Without this knowledge, and without a glimpse into the unknown, how would we ever begin to understand the depths of human dignity, strength and love?

Please visit Julie's website, and take a moment to read some of the posts - especially the introductory post on the main page. Share this with any parents who are learning how to raise a child with special needs. http://www.whatiwouldtellyou.com/


  1. That is a fantastic piece. Wow. I've already retweeted it with my own take.

    As a mom of a boy with Down syndrome and a neurotypical girl, I would like to share with you the books I wish someone had given me. The first is Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives ( http://amzn.com/1890627852). The second is Road Map to Holland (http://amzn.com/B001IDZJMC). Gifts is a collection of essays, one of which was contributed by the author of the second book, and looks at all the sides of a Down syndrome diagnosis. Roadmap is a record of her son's first 2 years and is just as beautiful as the cover photo will make you think it is.

    I hope that you take a look at them and they are books you feel you can share with your clients. As I said, I wish that I had been given them with my son's diagnosis instead of the sad and clinical books we were given.

    Good luck!

  2. Hi @kyouell: thanks so much for the book recommendations. I'll definitely look into them. I love the "Holland" story, so can't wait to read the book!

  3. Thank you for sharing Julie's blog. I read her entry that someone shared on facebook once and I've wanted to read more.


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