When facing the time of bonding with your child, while mentally
dealing with these unmet expectations, the emotions one normally uses
to bond may not be as readily available to you as you think they
should be. It may be hard for you to accept, but you’ll probably have
to dig deeper to find the positive emotions you have about your child.
There is nothing wrong with you. This is a normal response, and you
should not chastise yourself or another family member for these
feelings. You are in a grief process, and it is important that you are
patient with yourself, your family, and your baby.
Unmet Expectations Grief targets the unprepared, and strikes without warning. Most of us think of grief only in the context of the death of someone we love, but it is much wider and deeper than that alone. Grief is loss - the loss of anything. Loss can come to us through a pet, a home, a plate from your grandmother’s china, receiving notice that promotion went to someone else, or, through a child. Any loss causes some degree of grief in us. There are, indeed, degrees of loss and grief. The loss of a china plate is certainly less of a loss than the loss of a home, but it still causes the grief process to kick in. If we can wrap our mind around the fact that grief is the response to unmet expectations, the grief process can be significantly decreased. Now that you have received the news your child is a special needs person, you will be going through the grief process. The expectations you had for your child can no longer be met in the same way. The more readily you accept this is what has happened in your life, the more readily you can begin to build that life in a positive manner. The first stage of grief reveals the temptation to deny what has happened. Within the context of child disabilities, you may insist on second, third, or even fourth opinions of a professional. Actually, this isn’t a bad idea, as long as at some point you begin to accept the diagnosis if the opinions are the same. You may be tempted to isolate yourself (and maybe your family members) from others. Prying eyes, uncomfortable questions, unkind facial expressions, and long explanations are not something you feel you can face at this point. For a time, allow the isolation to happen. This will give you time to come up with precise and concise explanations about your child that will satisfy others, and allow you to feel at ease and comfortable with exactly how you communicate with others about your child’s disability. Guilt may very well be the next stage of grief you will need to endure. You might wrack your brain trying to find a time when you did something wrong to cause the disability in your then unborn child. Don’t stop yourself from experiencing this stage of grief, but do not dwell there either. Things happen. Sometimes, there is no one, or nothing, to place blame upon. There is no set or normal length of time for each stage of grief. Your loss is unique to you, and so will the stages of the grief be unique. Allow yourself to go through each stage for as long as you need to, until you can fully realize that what you have not lost, in any way, is potential. Things are not as you had planned them to be, but you should try to think of what goals those previous expectations were going to achieve, and adjust your new expectations to meet the same goals.
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