Real talk: special needs parenting fears

A few weeks ago another special needs mom reached out to me on Instagram and asked if I would share about how we decided to have more kids after Jaxlee. My heart goes out to her and all the other mamas who are grappling with this same decision. Let me start by saying I have been there. 

After I had Jaxlee, I really was afraid to have more kids. For so many reasons. Those early days were so hard and so full. Every week was maxed out with therapy and doctor appointments, constant phone calls with insurance agents, checking in on authorizations, and following up (again) to see if the expensive therapy we needed would be covered. This, of course, was on top of the typical day-to-day care of my child, building a business, and managing a household. I just couldn’t imagine how to fit another child into the mix, let alone a third. But we did, and I’m so grateful. 

First, let’s talk about fear for a minute. Fear stems from the unknown, right? It’s human nature to be afraid of the unknown, and I felt that with having more kids. 

I was afraid of:

  • not being able to manage the needs of two very different kids
  • not being able to give Jaxlee everything she needed if my attention was divided (and she needs a lot of support!)
  • the chances of having another child with special needs even though it wasn’t genetic
  • not being able to continue my business that we needed to be able to afford all of the various therapies

The list went on. 

But as I look back on those fears—those very real and valid fears—I have the advantage of hindsight. And oh my gosh. This is what I experience now that we chose to set those fears aside.

I get to experience:

  • Jaxlee experiencing a sibling
  • hearing my own babe call me “mama” and experiencing the other milestones like taking first steps at one year old
  • the love that Jaxlee shows her little sister without even saying a word. 
  • Braedy running up to Jax every morning and yelling “hi Jaxxeee” 
  • watching Braedy go and fetch Jaxlee’s walker so Jax can get to her next destination 
  • a built in “protector” and caregiver for Jax
  • tenderness of my typically developing child towards my special needs child

The list goes on.

Jaxlee’s world only got bigger, not smaller. Because her younger siblings have (or will have) friends who are typically developing, she’ll be exposed to so much more at birthday parties and play dates, and soccer games. So those fears I had about not being able to give Jax what she needed turned into something bigger and better.

When I got pregnant with my second, a friend who also had a special needs child first said that when you have another child, you’ll just put them in the car and take them to therapy appointments and hang out in the waiting room. From the very early stages of life, our typically developing kids are experiencing what it’s like to have to struggle and work for things like walking and climbing. They’re learning about sacrifice and inclusivity, as they watch their brave sister. For a bit more on Braedy’s story and what it was like to add her to the family, check out this blog post.

Our family dynamics are so much richer because we have a special needs child and two typically developing children. Braedy, and soon Tripp, will have hearts that are wired to look out for those in need without thinking twice about it. They will have a tenderness to them that you can’t teach. 

So although the fear is real, allow it to sit with you temporarily. Acknowledge it and breathe it out as you dream of what else you can have when you open yourself to the possibility of your heart’s deep desire. 

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  1. Cynthia Byrd says:

    What a beautiful article this week, Emily. You are not only expanding the lives of your children, but in sharing your stories, you are providing encouragement to the readers of this blog. I admire you so much.

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