Max went back to school this week, happy to return. As with any parent, to me the upcoming year is filled with the promise of what he'll learn and accomplish. Yet unlike many parents I know, my child's success is going to be extra sweet, largely because of all the doom-and-gloom things we were told by doctors after he was born. Max's progress continues to defy them.
I've had that on my mind this week after reading a post that's gone viral, written by a father to his daughter with Down syndrome on her wedding day. These words in particular struck a chord:
Do you remember all the stuff they said you'd never do, Jills? You wouldn't ride a two-wheeler or play sports. You wouldn't go to college. You certainly wouldn't get married. Now... look at you.
Oh, how well I know those kind of experts. Max had a stroke at birth that caused brain damage. He might never walk or talk, the renowned pediatric neurologist somberly told me and my husband. He might have cognitive impairment. At one point, he even mentioned we could sign a Do Not Resuscitate. At three months old, I took Max to see a well respected neonatologist. "His future looks ominous," he said and yes, he used that word.
For much of Max's first few months of life, I was depressed. It took time, perspective, the emergence of his bubbly personality and his development—slow, but sure—to help bring me out of it. And now? I have a boy who walks and rides a bike, who speaks words and also communicates via a speech app, who is plenty bright, and who is full of life and love and so much goodness.
Max has cerebral palsy. There may not be an antidote for CP, yet I do not seek to "cure" him. I love this kid, the one I got. But I sure wish there were a cure for the doctors of this world who give parents of kids with special needs very little hope. It does us—and our children—no good to feel so despondent about their future. Come on, can't they spare just a little optimism? A few words about the potential of a brain to regenerate and the strength of the human spirit?
Max works around his challenges. He has a team of therapists and doctors to enable him, not to mention two very determined parents. Every single time he racks up a new accomplishment, I think, Take that, doctors of doom!
Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.