When my oldest daughter (Julia) was born, she was four months premature. She was so small (1lb., 6 oz.), she was considered a micro-preemie and given only a 13% chance to live. She was born the youngest of a set of triplets and within the first 10 days of life, she lost both of her siblings and was herself struggling mightily to stay alive. As a parent, you feel utterly powerless at this point and you also feel a heavy sense of guilt.
In the midst of our grief, my wife and I were constantly asking ourselves “What did I do wrong.” As a mother, my wife was especially wracked with guilt. She was constantly asking what was wrong with her and why couldn’t she carry our babies to term? Her most pressing question was why did God do this to us? Later, after Julia was out of danger and was ready to go home, we received the news that she was deaf and had cerebral palsy. Again, we continued to ask ourselves what more we could have done. After countless conversations with doctors, parents and ultimately with God, we came to the realization that there was nothing that we did wrong. As hard as it was to accept, it was just God’s plan.
I am a logical person by nature. Plan your work and work your plan is my motto. When my wife and I got married, we planned a perfect life together. We imagined the American dream complete with the house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids. We worked hard in our careers and obtained a level of success. When we decided to get pregnant, we rushed out to get the latest parenting books (Remember “What to Expect When You Are Expecting”) so that we could be well prepared for what was to come. That’s when God decided to throw us a little curveball. When Julia was born, we were faced with a new reality.
As a problem solver, I wanted to find out what happened and who was responsible. Was it the doctors? The Hospital? Was it us? I wanted to know. Julia is now 18 and I spent a good many years trying to figure it out. I remember three key things that we did prior to our pregnancy that convinced me that Julia’s challenges were not the result of anything that we did wrong.
Prayer – Before we tried to get pregnant, we asked God if we were even supposed to have children. We waited almost 10 years before trying to get pregnant. We asked God to choose for us. We wanted children but only if it was His will. We asked God to bless us with children if it was His will and He granted our wish.
Excellent Prenatal Care – We had an extensive network of friends and colleagues who referred us to some of the best doctors in the city where we lived at the time. When we found out we were pregnant with triplets, my wife was determined to follow her doctor’s instructions to the letter. She had regular check-ups and at each appointment, the doctors were more than satisfied with her progress. With triplets, there is an increased level of risk with the pregnancy so her doctors put her on bedrest early. Looking back, her doctors gave textbook medical advice.
Excellent Medical Care – Prior to delivery, my wife was placed on bed rest in a hospital in order to closely monitor the triplets. When she went into emergency labor, she only had to go down two floors in the hospital for delivery. All of the latest medical equipment was immediately available for her care. The hospital where she delivered also had a state of the art level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) just down the hall and some of the finest doctors in the city. Everything that could have been done medically was done.
In the end, there are just some things that simply cannot be explained. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you may be asking yourself what did you do wrong. In most cases, the answer is you didn’t do anything wrong. It was just God’s will. As a Christian, I struggled with this and was angry at God for a very long time. In the Bible, there are plenty of examples of people having misfortune that was not of their doing. I remember when God allowed Job’s children to be killed when neither Job nor his children had sinned against God. The best example is when Mary gave birth to Jesus only to see Him crucified 33 years later. As with the story of Job, neither Mary nor Jesus were guilty of any wrongdoing but were simply a part of God’s plan. When it comes to your child’s challenges, it is not your fault, it is just a part of a much bigger plan.