When our son was born, and we received the diagnosis of a chromosomal disorder, I was rocked to the core. After a beautiful pregnancy and a special nine-month preparation for his arrival, it came to us as a complete jolt to learn that our baby boy would grow up with developmental delays that would affect his physical, speech/ language, and fine motor development along with many additional issues we are still only discovering each day.
I was torn. I wasn’t sure whether to rejoice for the birth of a baby or be saddened by his diagnosis.
After an extended hospital stay, a whirlwind of intimidating appointments, and many days of worrying about tomorrow, I felt broken– and inferior to everyone else. I had the impression I had suddenly become the dark cloud in my circle of friends. I was the one with the sad stories and I couldn’t make connections with other mothers since nothing my child did was typical.
I remember thinking one desperate night as my son hollered in pain that I was less than a mother because I couldn’t nurse him to comfort like friends had their babies. Although I knew better, I also secretly thought that my son was probably not going to be loved or accepted by others. I wondered if family and friends would see him as his father and I did.
One day, I received a beautiful email from a cousin in Australia. It came completely out of the blue when he was four months old. I’ve kept it all of these years for the profound message:
“Thank you for bringing this child into the world through your love for one another which is an expression of God’s love in you both – manifesting itself. Your child’s life is destined for greatness. He will be a beautiful instrument bringing many people back to God, their Creator; their friend.
If you look into his eyes and listen to his heart beating, you will see and hear Jesus loving you back again and again and again. This is a blessing that will unfold before your very eyes. It will set many free. Remember this in the days to come. Remember that your son is very precious to God and that this little one’s life counts in the scheme of things.”
It wasn’t until I read these words that I realized that my son’s coming into the world affected everyone. It wasn’t just my husband and I dealing with the diagnosis. Everyone was. Even those who were quiet or living miles away were touched by the news.
I also realized that my son’s life does indeed mean something to others. The outpouring of love and support we’ve received over the years silenced my initial fears. To know that others value him and his existence is mind-altering to me.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
I could barely hold it together reading that God thinks our son is precious. He wasn’t an accident. He wasn’t a mistake. Our son was purposefully made. It makes sense now, but at the time, I thought God must not have loved him as much as other children to make him live such a difficult life.
The words in this email restored my soul. They nourished my spirit. They helped me reclaim my life.
Over the years, I have seen how my son has changed others, and how he’s brought people back to God (myself included). I continue to look into his eyes and feel his heartbeat daily – and, yes, I experience Jesus through him. I see the blessing before me each and every minute I spend with my son. He has set me free in so many ways.
“Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you” (1 Kings, 10:9)
Today, I think about parents who are just learning about a diagnosis for a child with special needs– whether at birth or later in a child’s life. I wish for parents to know this:
Unconditional love can only be learned through understanding God’s love for us. And, while it may seem difficult to comprehend at first, know that your child’s life has value. Know that great things are coming for him. Know that your great love for him will intensify his purpose here on earth. Also know that your child won’t go unnoticed. His being here touches everyone.