I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.
– Love you forever by Robert Munsch
I judged a speech contest this past weekend. Storytelling was the category. And as I heard this familiar story told yet again. It took on a new meaning for me. I know I will never see my son move into his own home and have his own children or take care of me when I’m older as the mother in this story. But as I heard the phrase, “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” yet again. I was brought back to the hospital where we awaited Max’s MRI results at four months of age.
The hospital’s neurologist came in and explained that he had cerebral atrophy. This is a shrinking of the brain also found in Alzheimer’s patients. The doctor explained that his brain may continue to shrink, or it may stay the same size. It is unlikely that it will grow much. A couple months later we met with Max’s neurologist to discuss the MRI in more detail. She stated too that his brain may grow a little, but not much. “He’ll be a baby all his life.” I know that doctors tend to give the worst case scenario so that you don’t get your hopes up. I understand that as a baby his brain is very plastic and could do a lot of healing. Even so this news was hard for me to swallow. I’ve never been a big baby person. I’m no good with them…always afraid of breaking them and such. What I always looked forward to in having children was the toddler years. The years when you can really interact with them and see their personalities develop. Now I was facing a future of raising a perpetual baby. This was not at all what I had in mind.
After Max’s birth I was consumed with feelings of inadequacy. “I can’t raise a disabled child! I’m the worst possible parent for this child.” I had no experience with disabled people. During the last month of my pregnancy my prenatal yoga instructor had reassured us with the proverb that “nature never gives you more than you can handle,” and I clung to that knowing that I couldn’t handle a child with special needs and so I wouldn’t have one. I guess nature had a different opinion on that subject. And honestly, as hard as it is, I love my baby. Do I wish that he was “normal?” Yes. Do I wonder what he would have been without the injury? All the time. But I’m his mother, I can’t help but love him. And I haven’t given up hope. Sure I have my hopeless days (most often following sleepless nights). Other days, though, I know that he’ll surprise all of his doctors. And nature was right, I can handle this – not that it’s ever easy – but I can handle it. As much as I still grieve for what’s lost – my baby who was perfect until he traversed down the birth canal – I’m amazed at the love that overflows my heart. I’m happy for the growth that the experience has born in my own life.