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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

"Having a baby changes everything" says a baby commercial and there is so much truth in that statement.

When we first found out that Emma would have some differences the news pretty much rocked our world.  It put us in a spot that was uncomfortable and very much unwelcome.  Our future was unknown.  The only thing we knew was the life we knew and expected would change forever.  For the first year each specialist appointment brought us new information and more and more differences were discovered.  It was a gut wrenching year and some days it felt so lonely.  It was then that I learned about blogs and chat groups and I started to reach out to others.

I remember early on people would share their stories with us.  People with children that have differences - from down syndrome to a mild hearing loss and everything in between.  We didn't know anyone with a child with cerebral palsy until probably a few years into this journey.  But the people we did know seemed to pass along a common message of hope and blessing.  At the time I really thought they were crazy.  How could all these differences be a blessing?  How could having a child that would struggle for even the most minor physical achievement be a blessing?  I didn't understand.  I was angry.  So very, very angry.  At God.  At our circumstance.  With the news that each doctor appointment brought.  With the intrusion from all the therapy appointments that seemed to dictate our daily schedule.  With the stories from people about how X, Y, Z, Q, R, S kids had early intervention and it worked and they were caught up by school years.  I knew that wouldn't be the case for my girl and hearing these stories did not help at all.

Little peanut getting stretched
The early years were hard.  And while each day I fell more and more in love with both my children, I did not see Emma's differences as a blessing.  Nope not even one little bit.  I was angry that my child that I loved more than life itself would have to struggle through her life.  I was angry that Julia wouldn't have the typical sister bond with Emma.  I was angry when we met families with children that had a terminal diagnosis because they shouldn't have to go through the loss of a child.

And after a long time with the anger I finally had to let it go.  I had to move on.  Each day I was seeing this beautiful life unfold before me and there was no time or energy left for anger.  

Walking around the playground
And somehow, sometime in the last six years something changed in me.  I started seeing Emma's differences as a blessing.  I feel blessed to be so lucky to have both my children with all their unique characteristics.  I started to wish everyone had an Emma in their life and I thought of all the people in the world that will never know how totally amazing it is to live our life.  And I mean that - our life is better than anything I could have dreamed.  It might be harder and more physically exhausting (and seriously, I could do without all the health insurance issues!) than I imagined but it is so full of LIFE.  It is so fully of HAPPY.  It is full of friends old and new.  It is a much fuller life than I think we ever would have experienced had Emma not taken us on this journey.

Little girls playing peek-a-boo at the children's museum

I see people looking at us everywhere we go.  Yes, it might have something to do with the fact that we pimp out Emma's wheelchair for all occasions at her insistence - this girl loves attention - but it doesn't always.  Sometimes it's people staring and pitying us and our life.  To them I say, we are not to be pitied.  We are having the time of our life - come and join us!

It's all about the boas, baby!



2 Comments from readers:

The Bynums said...

Love your spirit and encouragement Kristina! Everyone should have an Emma and a Tessa! It's rough sometimes, but man it's full of life...just like you said! Your lovely Emma helps me dream big and makes me smile double as much as :)
~Whitney

Susan swanner said...

MAAAN, why you gotta make me cry like that!!!! Anyway, LOVE, LOVE, LOVe the pic with the butterfly/angel wings....she is such a doll! The pic of them at the Children's Museum....you can just SEE so much love in Julia's eyes for her sister, Julia is also such an angel! I was lucky in the fact that i always felt that Tracy was a blessing, BUT that was mostly because my husband went through so much anger and denial that i had to be the strong one. Also, when i had lost all my amniotic fluid with a previous pregnancy the baby lived for 15 days and the doctor kept telling me that if the baby lived it would come out deformed and have lots of problems. I told God that i was ready to accept a child that was not "perfect" and begged God just to let my baby live and even give me the soul of a baby someone else did not want! I ended up losing that baby, our only boy who we named Tailor Tristan Swanner...he is buried at a beautiful cemetery close to our house (i was five months along). I went through all of my anger then...that was four years before Tracy was born. Two months after i lost Tailor i got pregnant with Tiffany. Tiffany was born with a broken arm and had Erb's palsy which required about two years of therapy. I thought that was difficult, but little did i know God was only preparing me for Tracy. God kept me at my word, i told Him that i would accept a child that had problems and it did not happen with Tailor, but he still kept me at my word. When i think back about how TRacy was not breathing at birth and the doctor had to resuscitate her, it kills me to think that TRacy could be with Tailor right now, and we would have never have gotten to know her here, on Earth. That might seem selfish of me to some people...and it is true, but i selfishly look at her every day and squeeze the softest little body i have ever felt pressed against me and i breathe her in. I selfishly take so much joy that God thought so much of ME to think that I, who is no-one special, could take care of, and protect, such a special, precious being. It is really that way with all of the little souls that we are given care of, right?