Being ill is always tough. Facing up to a difficult diagnosis is never easy, but, it’s somehow worse, and certainly much harder to come to terms with, when the diagnosis is for your child. No matter how old they are, hearing that there is something wrong with your precious baby is heartbreaking. Here are some tips to help you get through this challenging time, accepting the diagnosis and coming to terms with the new life you are going to live.
Whether the diagnosis you face is that your child is always going to struggle with autism or another related condition, or you hear that something went wrong that injured them during childbirth, one of your first feelings will be anger. This is ok. Don’t feel like you can’t be mad, or even that you can’t contact Gray and White law for help. Let yourself feel whatever it is you feel.
You’ll also feel sadness. This is ok too, but it’s important to recognize exactly what you are sad about. Are you sad for your child, because they are in pain, or they’ll face challenges? Are you sad because you won’t have the life with them that you spent the pregnancy dreaming of? Or are you sad because your own life is going to be more difficult? It’s probably a combination of all of these things, but it’s still important to understand your feelings and to be honest about them.
You also need to understand that no parent has the life they expected. Parenthood is hard, and it changes all of the time. It’s certainly not all about playing and laughing. There are many, many difficult phases to contend with. No parent ever has the life they dreamt of through pregnancy.
Get Passed the Guilt
Understanding your feelings can lead to a massive amount of guilt about them. If part of your sadness is that your life will change, you will no doubt feel awful for thinking about yourself, when it’s your child that is facing something perhaps devastating.
This guilt is natural. In fact, even parents of completely healthy children feel guilty at one time or another; it’s part of parenthood. Accepting that you will feel sadness and guilt is part of moving forward.
When you feel anger, sadness or guilt, it can be tempting to bottle it up and not tell anyone. You may also be tempted to avoid telling anyone about your child’s condition. To fully accept your situation, you need to. Tell everyone you can. Speak to your partner, your child’s doctor, teachers, relatives, family, and friends. Join online support groups and forums, share your feelings, ask for advice and learn from others. Talk as much as you can. This will help you to not only accept the diagnosis but also to start moving forward with plans for the future. Just remember, the more people that know what you are going through, the bigger you and your child’s support network will be, and you never know when you are going to need it.
One of the best ways to accept a diagnosis is to learn as much as you can. Do your research. Again, online support groups and forums can be a wonderful tool, ask people to share their stories and learn as much as you can, while understanding that your situation won’t be exactly the same.
Read books, look at articles online, read articles from medical journals and speak to doctors. You can never know too much. Use this knowledge to have intelligent conversations with doctors, and make sure your child is getting the right care but also to reassure yourself. A lot of the time, there will still be hope, and you may even find that your life isn’t as different as you thought it would be.
Take Your Time
Yes, you need to accept the diagnosis, for your good as well as your child’s. But, you don’t have to do it right away. Take your time. Read, learn, talk to people and take as long as you need. If after a while, you still feel overwhelmed consider seeing a counselor that can help you to come to terms with things, or just be a safe person for you to confide your feelings in.
We’re all different, our lives and situations are all different, so no one can tell you how to think or feel. Take your time, read this advice and don’t force yourself into acceptance before you are ready. It’ll only make things harder in the long-term.