When the Baby Isn’t Perfect

The birth of an infant with a disability can initiate a time of grief and loss for new parents.  These parents have lost the perfect fantasy baby they dreamed of throughout the pregnancy and must now adjust to the reality of a less-than-perfect infant.

Parents of a child with a disability often go through an initial phase of grief, shock, and denial.  Though faced with indisputable medical evidence of their child’s condition, many parents attempt to minimize the seriousness of the disability.  One mother remembers thinking as the nurse checked her wristband before handing the baby over at discharge, “Please God, let her tell me I have the wrong baby.”

As the parents develop a sense of awareness of the problem, they are often overcome by a sense of guilt and failure.  They may feel they are being punished for past indiscretions or for wanting the baby to be of a particular sex instead of just a healthy baby.  They may agonize over what they could have done to cause the disability.  They may feel that they are biological failures for not being able to make a baby “right.”

The sorrow and grief that accompany the birth of a child with a disability are chronic and pervasive.  Parents of a child with a disability are faced with their loss every day.  Each new crisis renews the feelings of intense sadness and guilt.

Such a situation increases stress for the family at a time when the family is also faced with added financial burdens.  Families can feel lonely and isolated, cut off from former friends and acquaintances.  The divorce rate in families with children with mental retardation is three times the national average.  Investigators have found that families with children with developmental disabilities experience problems with adjustment, poor health, and family relations.

Research indicates that families with children with developmental disabilities need personal coping skills and an adequate social-support network.  Personal coping skills include problem-solving abilities, relaxation techniques, and self-praise.  Adequate social support includes physical assistance, information, and emotional support.  Supportive social networks are associated with increased personal well-being for the parents and enhanced development for the child.

Taken from Human Behavior in the Social Environment:  A Multidimensional Perspective written by Jose B. Ashford, Craig Winston, LeCroy, and Kathy L. Lortie.

~ by cmb0414 on August 13, 2010.

3 Responses to “When the Baby Isn’t Perfect”

  1. Thank You for sharing your story … I have never heard of this condition before … please keep me updated and I am here if you need support. Hugs … from one Momma to another. :-)

  2. I am seeing myself in this post. My husband and I just had our first child, a baby girl, October 6th. I ended up having a c section because she was breach at 40 weeks. The surgery went well and it was amazing to hear her cry for the first time. She was our perfect little girl with a small skin tag on her right cheek and one on her right ear. No biggie, they can be removed. The pediatrician examined her back at the room and let us know that she had no ear canal on the right side and failed her hearing test in both ears. I was devastated. Fortunately, her doctor already had a plan and was already contacting specialists for us, plus we are military so it is 100% covered. I am so thankful that I have her and no matter what happens, she will always be perfect to us.

    • I forgot to mention in my previous post that my child has what is know as Grade 2 Microtia. If anyone else has a child with the same birth defect that has gone through what I am now going through, please contact me, I would love some insight on it.

Leave a Reply to deadhead4269 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: