When I was younger I used to dream of having the perfect family. There would be me, a loving husband, and a bunch of rugrats to chase after. My dreams started to come true in my early 20s, when my loving husband and I got pregnant. However we didn’t expect what was about to come and how others would react to our decision to have more children. Ever since the birth of our first child other people have become judgmental and accusative with questions like: “Are you sure you want to have more kids? What if they’re like Skyler?” My answer to these rude questions is always the same: “Well I am hoping for a girl this time around but if we have another boy we will be just as happy and blessed.”
Why would people ask this question at all? It’s simple: my son has special needs. He was born with a rare condition that prevents him from producing most of the hormones our bodies need to keep us alive, and along with it comes underdeveloped optic nerves. The condition he has is called Septo-Optic Dysplasia. What this means in a nutshell is that our son is legally blind and requires daily medicines to live. He’s also at risk of going into adrenal failure, seizures and death if we don’t monitor his cortisol levels carefully. Now while logically this explains why people wonder why I’d want more children, it doesn’t explain why they think they have the right to ask such questions.
Is it fair to my child to imply that there’s no reason for his parents to want another child like him? I suppose it’s important to point out that the people who ask this question have never had a child with special needs themselves. So I guess they just don’t get it. I still don’t think this excuses their behaviour. My son happens to be the happiest, sweetest, funniest, and definitely cutest toddler I know! Of course I want another child like him -- I should be so lucky.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to gloss over the facts and say that it’s not hard being a parent to a child with special needs. There are appointments after appointments, there are nurse practitioners, pediatricians, endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, just to start. There are tons of things to learn about like assistive technology, audio books, Braille, tactile illustrations, orientation & mobility with and without a cane, how to administer meds orally, how to administer meds with a syringe, where to inject the meds, when to call the ER. Not to mention all the developmental and social aspects!
And yet, we do want another child. Even if there is a possibility that our next child will have the same special needs as Skyler. We already have all the supports in place, we are mastering the learning curve for his disabilities, we’re on top of his med schedule and all of his therapies. If the next child has the same issues, well that just makes it easier for us since it’s something we’re already familiar with. While it is hard at times, it’s also overwhelmingly rewarding. Our son is a wonderful ray of sunshine on a dreary day. He lights up our lives and those of everyone he meets. So to answer those questions, yes I hope that our next child is just like our first!