Sunday, October 5, 2014

I've already been to Holland...

There's a poem that circulates in most of the "special needs" circles.  It is called "Welcome to Holland".  I found it somewhat comforting when I was carrying Charlie.  It was recently posted to one of the preemie support groups I joined and all I could think was I've already been there, why did I have to go again?


Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved 
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.
There's a certain sense of unfairness this time around.  Underneath it all, I acknowledge that for my pregnancy, in all probability, this is the best outcome possible.  But still, there is the niggling question, what could I have done differently?  What should I have done differently?  Should I have pushed back harder on Friday and Saturday? Spent less time in denial on Sunday?  Could I have convinced someone to give me steroids and magnesium earlier?  Would it have helped or hurt if I did?  So many questions... and someone posted "Welcome to Holland".

My first thought was for how unfair it is that I'm on a return trip to Holland, I really wanted to go to Italy.  I think it might have been fun.  So very different than my previous experience, somewhat simple and carefree.

I know I have to accept where I am now.  It kind of sucks and it is pretty scary, but here we are.  In the end, I may never get to Italy, but I suppose Holland has its own charm.

1 comment:

  1. I had not read this before. Thank you! I am going to print it out!

    (I just "met" you on the preemieblog group.)