Birth defects affect one out of every 33 babies, and that defect will often impact the entire family. Parents of babies with birth defects are uniquely affected because they face the challenge of helping their child meet their full potential in a world that is challenging for everyone.
With every challenge of caring for a child who was born with a defect, there is also an amazing lesson that teaches parents about love and life. These lessons include those of hope, strength, courage, and learning to love through the pain.
Here are five life lessons that only the parents of children born with birth defects can understand.
How to Be Fearless
Fear is something that we learn over time. We learn to fear rejection, the future, and the dark. But, mostly, we are afraid of the unknown. But, having a child with a birth defect can help relieve those fears because you quickly learn that there is no time to waste in being afraid. The time you miss out on because of fear is time you could have spent loving.
How to Participate in Advocacy
The moment you realize that your child has a birth defect is likely one of the most difficult moments of your life. It is a moment that you would not wish on anyone else, and it is not until this moment that you are able to truly understand what it means to be an advocate.
Your child gives you a voice and the drive to stand up for others in ways you never realized you could.
When you have a child with a disability, you are not just an advocate for your child and your family. You have the unique opportunity to stand up for other families in your community and around the world. This was especially true for my partner and me; our child had been injured through medical negligence at birth.
You can quickly find yourself speaking to doctors and lawyers, not just on behalf of yourself, but also on other families who have gone through a similar experience. Brain injuries during birth are common and many parents with disabled children are at a loss on how something like that could have happened.
This position is a heavy one because you know that your abilities in preventing the sadness others may feel are limited. But, you know every moment that you breathe life into your cause, you might someday help relieve the pain of another family.
How to Dream Big
So many people choose to limit themselves over the smallest of things. But, when you parent a child with a disability, you learn that even the big things do not need to stand in your way. The way that all children are able to reach for the stars is aspirational to parents. Because if your child, who was hindered so early in life, is able to dream big, why can’t you?
How to Believe in Yourself
Disabled children believe they can always work harder, do more, and be better versions of themselves. From the very beginning of life, they strive hard to overcome the obstacles that they never asked for or created for themselves.
Watching your child perform small miracles every day inspires you to believe in yourself, both as a parent and as a person with so much to give to the world.
How to Transform Lives with Love
Love is the one thing that makes everything feel alright, even if only for a moment, and love was what helped you get through every difficult moment of those first weeks of parenting.
A child helps you learn to love unconditionally, and ask nothing in return. The ability of your child to love you so much despite everything can transform your entire life in ways you never imagined.
All children are precious miracles with much to teach us. But, there are some lessons that only parents who have had the joy and heartbreak of raising a child with birth defects will truly understand.
Featured photo credit: Stephen Hockhaus via flickr.com