I remember when my son was first diagnosed with Chromosome Ring 18 at two months of age. I (and my husband) was terrified! The only words that kept running through my mind were that of all the degrees of the unknown: mental retardation, heart anomalies, kidney failure, blindness, deafness, low muscle tone, microcephaly, and the worst: failure to thrive. I felt as though I was alone on a deserted island. Not one friend or relative could even come close to imaging the fear of the unknown that I felt. No words could comfort me. I was so terrified that my little beautiful baby would never know love.
I remember picking up a P2P pamphlet one early evening that my FRC had given me. It seemed like the only promising thing I had read in the weeks of reading Doctor’s notes and talking to people who really didn’t know of my son’s rare anomaly. I had cried so hard for two weeks straight that I felt like a zombie when Michelle answered the phone. And then again, I felt those tears rushing back. I explained to her my situation, and she replied back to all my comments and her story with three undercurrents in her voice: strength, humility and courage. I knew then that there was SOMEONE out there who could relate, and suddenly I realized that I was now in a whole new “club” of life, and that I could actually become like her with that same strength. I could get through this, and raise my son just fine!
To fast forward…my son is almost three now and is a tremendous gift to our family! He has enriched our souls more than I could ever explain. I have still had my fears, and I am grateful that there are other families out there going through raising children with varying degrees of special needs. I have learned something from them all. I probably would not have met most of these people if it were not for our local Parent 2 Parent meetings. I communicate with some of these families outside our varying activities, and am meeting new ones all the time. Without these people, I may have fallen into a pit of helplessness. Now, whenever I feel a “wave” of worry about what my son will face to come, and things seem a little overwhelming, I reach for the phone and talk to one of them, and it always helps to bring me back to a “can do” attitude. Kipp (my son) has overcome so many obstacles that were the “unknowns.” Like any child, but maybe a little more so, we will always have to assist him with his own individual needs that will help him flourish and grow. I believe that with faith, family, friends, and Parent to Parent in our lives, I have become a stronger parent. They have helped get me through all the rough patches of raising a child with special needs. I can now focus on watching my beautiful boy reveal the miracles of daily life he was always intended to show, to those with the courage to truly see.
Amy Kocher - Kittitas County Parent to Parent