You have spent nine whole months nurturing a new life growing inside of you. You’ve bought countless items of clothing, nursery decor and toys. You’ve read all the books, you know all of the different options out there and the benefits of diverse parenting styles. You’re prepared and you’re ready. You’re so excited and impatient for your perfectly precious bundle of joy to arrive. The future can’t come soon enough and it’s bound to be filled with happiness; of course it is.
We’ve all seen endless articles, blogs, and documentaries about the difficulties of parenting. Some are extremely serious, others have a slightly more humorous take. The sleepless nights, the pushing your relationship to breaking point, the endless cycle of nappies and feeds – but then it gets better, it always gets better – doesn’t it?
Your child may roll over or smile for the first time, they may sleep through the night or say their first word, and then all of that strain disappears, floats away and becomes a distant memory. They flourish into a beautiful tiny human, who may be clingy or independent, you may not get a minute to go to the toilet by yourself because they’re so intrigued as to what you could be up to. Ultimately, you live happily ever after as you watch them grow into a beautiful young child with their own cheeky personality.
But – what about many families who don’t have that luxury? Families whose babies are poorly (seriously poorly), or families that wait and wait for that oh so eagerly anticipated milestone that never happens. Families who spend more time at the hospital than their own home as their child is admitted so frequently. Families who long for that cheeky personality to come out and not having a minute to go to the toilet themselves.
We all see breastfeeding being advocated everywhere; formula feeding almost seems like a swear word nowadays. But, what about babies who don’t have the ability or strength to feed themselves? Babies who require a tube, a peg or special milk as they aren’t gaining weight as they should be.
There are babies who are sight or hearing impaired, who cannot support themselves and eventually require aids, babies who are mentally impaired and cannot communicate as they wish to. Sadly, the list goes on.
Maybe these things merely aren’t considered when you have a healthy baby and I suppose for many reasons they wouldn’t be. However, having had the most difficult year of my life to date (albeit the best as I welcomed my beautiful baby boy into the world) I’ve found that there isn’t a lot of support, articles or advice on how to cope when life isn’t necessarily as you thought it would be.
The only way I can describe having an unhealthy baby is soul destroying, heartbreaking and eye opening. When I say unhealthy I mean constantly unwell. There is a problem, or sometimes multiple problems or conditions that they may never be able to overcome. You have to adjust as you don’t have any time not to adjust; after all your baby needs a parent. However, the overwhelming exhaustion and worry can soon catch up. It’s a devastating grief that consumes you when you finally take everything in, even though you have to keep going – you have to.
Nobody wants to think about these eventualities of ill health or life not being as they imagined. It’s upsetting and it’s scary; it’s the unknown. But maybe, we all need to normalise it a bit, as it happens far more often than we are exposed to and led to believe. Good health is so delicate and fragile, yet we seem to take it for granted until something happens that makes us realise just how lucky and blessed we are.
I’m sure my baby (well child now) isn’t by far the worst off in the world, but he’s certainly not the best. I realise this is all a bit doom and gloom and sadly it’s not the nicest topic in the world, but it’s one I feel I can discuss openly and honestly.