I’ve been a special needs mama for five years now. As time goes on, I often think back to my first year of being a Mama. I think of all the things I wish people had said or done for me during that stressful first year. Here’s what I think every new Special Needs Mama needs to hear:
1. “Here’s some coffee!”
Seriously. It made sound cliche, but it’s true! I think I survived Livy’s first year of hospital stays, specialist appointments, and various therapies thanks to coffee. Not hospital coffee (Blah. Although I did drink a lot of this!), but Starbucks, DD, or even a cup of Community coffee! What I would’ve given for someone to bring me a good cup of coffee and just be there to listen. People often ask what they can do, this is always my top suggestion!
2. “You’re doing a great job!”
Often you get so caught up in everything going on that you don’t feel you’re doing as much as you can for your child. But, believe me, if you’re worried that means you’re doing a great job! I know all the appointments, therapies, and surgeries can get you down, but you’ll get through it!
3. “How are you?”
I think this is the biggest question I avoided as a new special needs mama. I made it all about my daughter and almost ran myself into the ground doing that. It does have to be about you sometimes! You’re the anchor that keeps everyone grounded. Taking care of yourself is so important! Every parent should take care of themselves, but being a special needs parent often means you’ll be caring for your child in different ways- lifting, feeding, etc and for a lot longer. I still struggle with this. I know I need to get healthy and have a hobby. Both are important, but often they get put on the back burner.
4. “You are enough.”
Mama, you are enough. You are the best advocate. You are the best Mama to your little! No one can take your place!
I see you. I see you working for months to get your baby to roll over, I see you holding your screaming baby at another specialist appointment, I see you performing daily medical needs others wouldn’t dream of doing. We special needs mamas do whatever we have to for our kids. And that’s why we’re enough.
5. “I don’t have any advice, but I’m here to listen.”
This. So many people want to be helpful and give advice. But often it is on things they have no idea about. It’s truly okay for someone not to know what to say or even to just say they’re there for you. No advice is often the best advice.
6. “Go take a nap.”
YES! Let someone else listen for your baby while you take a quick shower or a well deserved nap. They’ll wake you if they need you.