I was reflecting again recently on how my perspective has evolved since Lina’s birth.
I look at Lina now, and I see a beautiful little girl, growing and learning every day at her own pace, just like every child does. I see a precious individual, a priceless gift to our family. I look back on my pregnancy and her birth, and I no longer feel loss. Instead, I feel only the joy of her. I absolutely cannot imagine having any other baby. She is perfect for us, the child we hoped for and dreamed of for so long. She is in no way less than: not less than any other child, not less than the imaginary child we expected. She is complete and amazing.
I used to read similar thoughts from parents of kids with disabilities. I would nod and think, “That’s so awesome and so true.” But I realize now that deep down, those parents sounded to me like second place contestants trying to be okay with the consolation prize. I thought they were being brave.
I’m ashamed of that truth. And sometimes, I’m ashamed of the grief I felt after Lina’s birth. I know in my head that it was necessary and healthy to grieve the baby I thought I was having and to mourn the more difficult path that lay ahead. I realize that stabs of pain and grief will continue to be a part of life as Lina’s mom. (Pain and grief are probably guaranteed in the life of any mom.) But in some ways, that initial grief feels so out of place now. Why would I grieve this amazing child? I look at her, and I feel pride and joy. Disappointment has no place between us.
This has been my journey. There’s a lot more to travel yet; we’re really just getting started. I am not brave or extraordinary. I am a mom who loves her kids like crazy. And though it no longer feels necessary to say, I’ll state for the record: Lina is nobody’s consolation prize.