When Mia was a baby, I went with her to baby swim, took her to the local mommy cafe, to the lake and sat on blankets with all the other mommies, testing our toes in the water, and went to our village’s health visitor for weekly weigh-ins.
All of these places, I had the chance to meet up with new mommies like myself and have a chat, compare notes on paediatricians, and have a much-needed cup of coffee.
At first any differences in Mia’s size or development were easy to brush off, as she was a preemie, and it was no secret that she was a premature with her mere 2.5 kilograms at the ripe age of five months (from birth).
But since no doctor could tell us how things would be, we had decided to live life as normally—whatever ‘normal’ is for that matter—as possible.
That meant doing all the things that mothers do, when they are still on maternity leave.
But as moms inevitably do at these sorts of mass mommy events, milestone comparison was a big part of the conversation.
Instead of feeling enlightened by the opportunity to meet up with fellow new moms, I started to feel bad each day.
At the same time our calendar was filling up with appointments: physical therapy, feeding therapy, developmental specialists and medical controls.
The things I had in common with these ladies were diminishing.
I distanced myself from the mainstream mommies.
But I was alone.
Then I discovered a lonely mom in the waiting room of the early intervention center, also in limbo between the new world of being a ‘therapy mom’ and a new mom just looking for support.
Its refreshing to be able to sit down with someone and have them just ‘get’ your situation, even though our children have very different needs and diagnoses.
My circle of therapy moms grew and I loved the inspiration and openness that these women provided.
But there is a downside to having only parents of special needs children in your immediate circle of friends.
Let me explain.
Parents of special needs children become evangelists for their child’s therapies, especially if a particular therapy, technique or piece of equipment has helped to reach particular goals.
This is a good thing.
Therapy can at times become a religion.
This is the point when only having special needs parents as friends can get overwhelming.
Everyone has a particular therapy that works wonders and will ‘save’ you.
‘My son would have never learned to eat from a spoon, if it had not been for this technique.’
Mia wasn’t anywhere near eating from a spoon yet, was it my fault that we weren’t doing this particular therapy?
‘My daughter was just as hypotonic as Mia.'
Mia wasn’t anywhere near even having head control, let alone sitting.
Why weren’t we doing this therapy?
Why hadn’t my paediatrician recommended it?
The list could go on forever.
The volley of claims from the therapy parent.
My growing level of self-doubt.
When did these encounters with other special needs parents go from being helpful to hurtful?
Withdrawing from the therapy mom world for a reality check, I learned that I needed to find the right balance for our family, and the right mix of therapy and normalcy for Mia.
Every special needs child is so very individual, even with the same diagnosis.
Researching, asking our specialists, trying out new therapies, and communicating with our therapists, all these mechanisms helped me to gain focus over the situation.
My husband and I started to make informed decisions about the path we choose to take with Mia.
We recognized and even relished in the fact that our way was probably different than others, but our way was tailored to Mia.
Nowadays, I’d like to think of myself as a hybrid—taking the best of both worlds—knowing that I am doing what is right for Mia and our family.
Do you do therapy with your child at home?