“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walking this “new normal” road of special needs is hard on every account. I know that once Mighty Z finally made her way home from the hospital after spending her first six months of life in the NICU– what lay behind me was in many ways a safe haven.

Although I longed to have her home with our family, I had no idea what the reality of having her home would be like. I was suddenly responsible for her care, responsible for keeping alive a baby that was as medically fragile as you could imagine. I truly felt that I could not do this job, although I never told a soul about my fears at the time. I had to trust that I would build the courage along the way.

I had no idea what lay within me. I only saw the imperfection, inadequacies, and the fear I felt every time Z made a tiny noise or cry. Truly, it was only after several years of walking down this road that I started to see in myself what strength I really had. Before I knew it, doctors and nurses begin to ask not just what I thought, but for my advice. It wasn’t that I was so educated or knowledgeable, it was that fact that I had pushed through for my daughter.

Even though fear and anxiety washed over me like a tidal wave (as it sometimes still does) I pushed through– often silently most times, simply because when the waves start to wash over me I have to react to what is going on with Mighty Z immediately and there can be no hesitation.

When you embark on this new, “normal” road of special needs you might feel the same way. You might look around you and think there is no way I can do this, I just can’t. You might see the others that walk this road and think that they are handling it better. You may feel that what lies within you is nothing but imperfection, inadequacies, and fear, but that is not really the case.

You are made of stronger stuff than you think.

This is the first in a series of self-help articles for parents by mom and non-profit founder, Shelly Colquitt.

About the Author

Shelley Colquitt is the mommy of two beautiful girls, Lauren and Zoe. Her youngest daughter was born at 40 weeks. As she was celebrating the success of the labor and delivery, her baby stopped breathing. Later, her daughter was diagnosed as having a rare disease that only 163 babies in the world had at the time (11 years ago). She had to learn to take care of a baby who had a trach and was on life support machines 24 hours a day.

Not only is Shelley busy with her two girls and working very hard to keep her youngest chronic, medically complex child healthy, she also volunteers at a shelter for abused/neglected children, volunteers as a teacher’s aid for children who are globally delayed, and started a nonprofit for special need children and their parents called Hope’s Seed. She writes about the ups and downs of dealing with a child who is complex, chronically and critically ill.

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