Welcome to….Holland?

I don’t know quite where to begin to explain the myriad of emotions that have flown around with the birth of our wee boy. We undoubtedly love him to infinity. He is wonderful. Yet with all that love comes a stack of other feelings wishing it was all somehow different.

Heart Children gave us a book about being parents of a child with a heart condition and in the foreword of it was this piece of writing that really resonated with me.

by Emily Perl Kingsley.

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. Michelangelo’s David. Venice. The Cinque Terre. Roma. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place to where you thought you were headed. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. And you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But still everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

At the moment, I feel a lot of grief that we aren’t in Italy as we had planned. There is sadness, and to be honest some anger too, that we don’t get to join our family and friends in the same place that they are with their children. It doesn’t seem fair. But reading this story makes me realise that while we aren’t going to have the same experience as others, we are still somewhere very special. It’ll just take time to adjust to this unexpected destination.