Having a special needs baby is a whole different ball game. Some things are more difficult, some things are easier 🙂 But what is the first year of having a special needs baby like? Let me tell you about it!
#1: There’s lots of doctors appointments
Now, I know all babies still have their regular well baby checkups. But with special needs babies, there are regular therapy appointments and various other medical visits depending on their condition. For Emm and I, the first 6 months we had appointments about an average of once a week. After she was old enough to focus more on motor skill, she had (and still has) an average of 3 appointments a week. These include physical therapies, feeding therapies, doctor visits, specialist visits, etc. Consequently, number 2:
#2: It’s expensive
Now luckily we have some darn good insurance so we haven’t been sunk in medical bills, but it is still costing our insurance a lot. As far as our actual out of pocket expenses, it has been a little bit more expensive than the average baby because Emm’s therapists like her to have special kinds of toys/activities suited to her ability. Now, yes, I’m sure we could have saved a lot getting most of them second hand, but we wanted to get things that would last through all of our children so we purchased new. Most of the things we purchased would benefit any kiddo 🙂
#3: Less mom friends
Making mom friends as a special needs mom can be difficult. As it stands, today I have many acquaintances, but not too many closer friends. Because in conversations with other moms, the topics usually go like this:
- Comments on each others’ babies and their cuteness
- Questions about how each others’ kiddos are doing (crawling, walking, talking)
- Lingering focus on Emm’s lack of “normal” progress, encouragement to me or her (not necessarily negative at all)
- Topic continues to linger on Emm’s difficulties
- Successful attempt to change topic back to other mom’s baby
- Observational chatter
- Topic drifts back to Emm’s difficulties
- I start to feel uncomfortable and usually find a reason to move away from conversation (bathroom trip, diaper change, etc)
Quite honestly it can be a little bit difficult to try and explain Emm’s difficulties in a 5 minute conversation. I just prefer to have “normal” conversations 🙂 Ones where each mom is commenting back and forth, offering different observations. I’m just as interested in learning about your baby as you are mine! If you don’t talk about your baby too it feels more like a monologue on my part, less like a conversation. (Stay tuned for blog post on this!)
#4: People do treat you differently
It takes careful observance to independently notice that Emm is special needs, so I don’t get this as a rule, but I do get it as soon as people discover that she is. Normally the different treatment is in the form of encouragement or condolences, like my life must be so hard. I’ve kind of come to accept these as normal and react to them neutrally, but they are kind of annoying. My baby is AWESOME! No condolences or encouragement needed! I really do believe that I am the luckiest mom in the world to have her!
There’s also the classic stares and glances out of the corner of the eye. I don’t really blame people for this one, because I know I used to do it (and sometimes still do–yikes!). And I’ve gotten used to these as well. People are wary of what they don’t understand, and special needs are difficult to understand. So people sometimes stare at Emm, probably without realizing it.
#5: Mobility becomes tricky
Once Emm started to get tall and heavy, but still couldn’t support her neck enough for a bigger carseat, we had to get creative. We bought a large infant seat and angled it back safely. It’s still hard to get her out of the car, haha, but once again, you get used to it.
Washing her in the bathtub is about to become more difficult too, as she’s almost sliding off her baby bath. When that happens, we’re planning on putting a very small layer of water in the bottom of the tub and washing her on her back. Wish us luck!
#6: Still have “normal” mom worries
Am I spending enough time with my baby? Is she getting enough/too much stimulation? Is that little girl going to drop her if I let her hold her? What will she be like when she’s older?
All those things, completely normal. Now, there are different worries sometimes, like wondering how old she’ll be when she learns how to read, but most of the time the worries are just normal mom worries! (And heck- who really knows when their kid will read, regardless of their needs? Right?)
In the end, as a special needs mom, I still do most of the same things that other moms do. My daily routine is pretty similar, with only a few exceptions. I worry about lots of the same things. I feed my baby the same things. It’s the few exceptions that make it a different journey, but it really is a great one!
Are you a special needs mom? Tell us about your journey in the comments!