Friday, March 16, 2012

Same and different

One of the reasons why I think pregnancy has been hard on me this time around - aside from feeling bad physically 24/7/9months - is because it's made me aware of things I hadn't really thought of before.

Like, pregnancy generally, genetic tests, abortion, etc. Last time we went through our pregnancy, had red flags raised by tests we hadn't wanted, and decided to love - and raise - our daughter regardless, while feeling sort of sad and lost during the pregnancy itself, and then meeting her and falling into deep love and never turning back. But this time, we're on the other side. We didn't do real "testing" but we did the normal two ultrasounds to look for anything major (to be prepared for at birth) - but this baby is totally healthy. And it's strange because in some ways it makes me sad. That in theory we should have relief that this child doesn't have a heart defect like Lilly did, or potential medical complications. Because honestly I don't think Lilly is anything "less" than she should be, and I don't like going through a pregnancy where people are excited that this baby doesn't (probably) have anything chromosomal or medical going on with it. I literally cried through my 20 week ultrasound, as they showed me his perfect heart. I felt such a protective connection to Lilly when she was in my belly, and this time the baby is just... normal. And so is Lilly, but you know what I mean.

And his normalness is putting a spotlight on Miss Lilly and her extra chromosomes, which is awareness number 2. Maybe this is how parents feel who first have a typically developing child and then a child with special needs. But Lilly is our first, and for almost 6 years she's been our measurement of what a normal little girl is like. She's been amazing, funny, silly, beautiful, smart, perfect, and she still is. She is unique, but she's grown with us as we've grown with her, and she is exactly who she should be, and I've never really questioned anything. But now with this new baby coming - who will most likely be like the "average" kid out there, it makes me think about the ways our lives are currently just a little abnormal. And not in a bad way, but I just never really thought about Lilly's differences, or my differences in parenting because of her. And I still wouldn't change anything even if I could - I really think every child should be like her, and not the other way around - but it does make me look at things a little differently. And it makes me realize that - in some ways - being her mom is a little more work, or a little different, than what other moms go through - but in the same way I totally think being her mom is a lot easier and we have a lot more fun. Today I read this article 7 things you don't know about being a special needs parent and so much of it is true for me - as much as we're having the time of our lives with Lilly Lou, it is exhausting, it is a lot of work. But oh my goodness, the rewards... For example other parents with kids Lilly's age are just having them go to school, pick up knowledge, and being confident that they'll succeed. But each day I feel like there's not a moment that I'm not trying to teach Lilly something, shape her life, give her confidence... and she's doing amazingly so there's definitely huge benefits- but how much do other parents take for granted just being on autopilot in so many ways, when I feel like I'm in a time-crunch pressure cooker trying to optimize Lilly's potential?

And it's not necessarily the "baby" that's pulling out all this awareness - but I feel like we were able to live in Lilly's World for 6 years, and now we're going to open it up to make it Lilly and her Brother's World. Change is uncomfortable sometimes - but as much as we've had major changes many times in the past few years, we'll do it well. Interestingly, Lilly is the one who takes adjustments the easiest, and I'm sure she'll guide us through having this little baby becoming part of our family with the grace and charm that she always does.

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