On Sunday, coming home from the movies, Matt was driving and Katherine jumped in shotgun, so I sat in the second row car seat with Wil and Elizabeth hopped in behind us. As we motored on home, “Let It Snow” came on the radio and Wil started bouncing around in his seat, then I started bobbing my head, then he started bobbing his head and then Elizabeth joined. We were totally rocking it out in the backseat to that old classic and Matt and Katherine looked over at us from the front seat and rolled their eyes in mock embarrassment. Ahhh, this is what it’s all about, I thought to myself.
Then just yesterday, I met a woman whose daughter is a neo-natal nurse. She told me her daughter wants to adopt a child with special needs. She said it pains her to see moms just walk away from their babies when they learn of their diagnosis. That fact pains me greatly too.
When Wil was born, I was scared and I cried for all that I had “lost” in a typical child. It is natural to grieve our lost expectations. But then, why do we not build up new expectations? Why do we just walk away? I’m no better or worse than anyone else. The only difference is I was so tired of crying about my baby. I wanted so deeply to smile about my baby. And in that process I discovered whatever I look for, I find.
I found so much to love, laugh and smile about. There are the hard parts, too. Elizabeth is fond of saying, “Wil has good days, and bad days, then he has Wil days.” But Wil days are what make our days so much more amazing. The deeper the challenges, the greater the rewards. I notice every single new word Wil says, every single new step forward he takes and I feel a deep joy in all of it. Wil’s life is a joy and reminds me of the pure power of the simple pleasures in life. Wil does not get out of bed unless I give him a hug first. That simple fact sets an upbeat tone for the day. After he brushes his teeth, he says, “Mom, breath.” Then blows his soft, minty breath to me and I say, “Oh, minty!” and he laughs and gives me a hug. We do this every day and it never gets old. So simple, yet so powerful.
Instead, the medical terms come first when our new babies are born. Science is tangible. Science is explainable. Science is very important. But so are Let it Snow moments. I believe even more so. Our feelings and emotions may not be as tangible as science, but our feelings are what rule our worlds every single day miles above science. When I changed my feelings about Wil’s chromosomal differences, that changed my life. It wasn’t his chromosomal make-up that changed, it was the way I looked at it that changed. I want to bottle up these “Let It Snow” moments and share them with new moms just a clearly and tangibly as those 47 squiggly chromosomes show up on a piece of paper. But emotions and feelings aren’t meant to be bottled. They are meant to be lived, felt, experienced, absorbed and learned from. They are not definitive and finite, but a fluid, expanding and fulfilling component of our life’s journey.
I picture myself over 10 years ago, laying in the birthing room, opening a folder full of medical terms, tears streaming down my face. Wouldn’t it be glorious, if instead, I opened that folder and in front of the medical terms, placed before all the papers, the sounds of “Let It Snow” came pouring out, and in all that I could not see, but could feel, the beginning of a new journey that lies ahead?
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow