In the days that followed Olivia's birth, I was flooded with gifts and cards. Some cards were congratulations and well wishes while others were focused on prayers and recovery for Olivia.
There was one that I will never ever forget.
There are moments in life, some call them Ah-ha moments, when you know that you will remember that moment forever. I think we remember these times because in some way they change your perception.
One of these moments happened when I received a card by my friend and a former college roommate, Stephanie. Stephanie's niece has Down Syndrome and I believe that
this was also beneficial to her sister that delivered her baby a year or so prior to Olivia's birth.
What was it? A poem. One I had never heard before, and now one that I will never forget.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. 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 horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
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....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're 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.
How this poem rang so true. I was finally here...a mother! A place I had wanted to be for so long and a place I knew I would fit in perfectly. And it doesn't matter of its Paris, Holland, or Ohio.
I'm here, I made it, and I love it!!!
I saw Stephanie today at the local National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk. I am grateful that she shared this poem with me and hope it will also help others.
...our adventure continues
Olivia's "world traveling" mom