I know it has been a while since I last posted, but I have been a little busy. I would imagine that a lot of people think that having a baby at 40 would make you feel old, but it is quite the opposite. I have been learning things that most people learn in their 20’s or earlier. Things like how to change a diaper, how to burp a baby or when to feed her. I remember someone saying (or I may have read it in a blog) that our spina bifida baby will be more “normal” than not. That is a very true statement, at least in our case. She cries when she is hungry. She smiles when she is happy (or pooping in her diaper – it’s hard to tell the difference). I look at her on a daily basis and think to myself that she looks too normal for anything to be wrong with her. I mean, at this point, she couldn’t walk even with a healthy spine and she would still be in diapers. Nothing seems different. Then, as I look at her, my eyes fill with tears as the realization sets in that she IS different and she WILL have limitations. That is where the title of this blog comes in. I want to share with you the hopes, the dreams and the fears that come along with a baby like her.
My hopes are probably very similar to most new dads out there. I hope that I will not mess up this whole parenting thing. I hope that I will always be able to provide the things she needs. I hope that I will know what to do in case of an emergency and be able to remain calm. I hope that she will love me as much as I love her. I hope that I will teach her all the valuable lessons that she needs in life. I hope that I can show her a life that is filled with happiness, love and excitement. I hope I never disappoint her. I hope I never make her feel like she has disappointed me. I would hope that she will be smart and beautiful, but I am pretty sure that’s a given. I hope she is proud to call me her Dad. I hope that she will never limit herself. I hope she loves me as much as I love her. (I know I already listed that, but I hope that a lot)
My dreams are little different than most. When I dream about Eliza and her future, it usually involves things that most parents take for granted. I dream of her taking her first step and the tear filled embrace that will follow. I dream of her being able to run to me with her arms stretched wide, catching her in a hug and twirling her around. My dreams may sound simple to most, but to me those dreams would be miraculous and leave me feeling selfish for ever having dreamed them to begin with. Of course, I realize that those dreams may never come true, but I’ve always heard that if you are going to dream, dream big. I mean, she has already made several of my dreams come true, what’s a few more?Sometimes I like to dream that I am dancing with her at her wedding or watching her walk across the stage at her graduation ceremony. Those are fun things to fantasize about, but I quickly bring myself back to reality and tell myself to simply focus on the here and now. It is a constant struggle to tell myself to be thankful for what she CAN do and not worry about the things she can’t do.
That brings me to my fears. This is probably the biggest area of difference with a spina bifida baby. There are so many fears that come with it in addition to the already absurd amount of “usual” fears for new parents. I guess I have just learned to prioritize my fears in order to keep my sanity. I don’t really focus on the fear of something happening to her like I am sure most parents do. I don’t have time to worry that she will stop breathing at night, or catch some horrible virus, or any of the horrible things that happen to babies. I probably should be constantly worried about those things, but I’ll leave that up to Jessica. Instead, my fears are overshadowed by the biggest one of all. I fear, more than anything, the day that my precious girl realizes that she is different from the other children. I tremble when I think of her broken heart knowing that she will always be less capable than others. I fear that so much because I still don’t know what I will say to her that will make it better. I have rehearsed it a hundred times in my head but I never seem satisfied with the words I have. My heart crumbles inside my chest as I search for just the right thing to say. I pray that in the coming years, I will find the right words but until then it scares me to death. I pray that God will continue to heal her so that I may never have to face that fear, but I also pray that he gives me the words I need to build that little girl up and the strength to say them with conviction and love.