Everyone wants a healthy baby. Birth defects – whether they are purely visual or physically disabling – can prove an extra challenge. It’s natural to initially feel shocked, sad or even angry. To help you come to terms with the defect it’s important to get as much guidance as possible from friends, family and professionals.
Here are the steps you should take:
Get the defect medically assessed
Some defects will need medical attention. If it wasn’t already identified during birth, book another appointment and get the defect diagnosed. Surgery may be able to fix or remove the defect in some cases. In other cases, it may be deemed too dangerous or unnecessary to operate.
Find the cause of the defect. Quite often there may be no natural reason for it, or at least one that couldn’t have been prevented (e.g. a genetic imbalance, something hereditary). You shouldn’t blame yourself or anyone else for your baby’s defect. The only rare case in which you should blame someone is if the midwifes delivering your baby solely caused the disability (shoulder dystocia can be caused by the baby getting trapped behind the pubic bone and midwifes applying too much force – a good case for hiring an erbs palsy lawyer and getting compensation for the harm to your baby).
Many parents can feel like they’re not strong enough to cope with the extra stresses of raising a child with a birth defect. In such cases, your doctor may be able to recommend a social worker or counsellor.
The best way to better understand your baby’s condition is to find other parents with similarly affected children. You may be surprised by how many babies have the same defect and the services that are available to help cater for it. You will find many support groups where you can share stories and learn ways of dealing with your baby’s defect.
As for financial support, if it is classed as a disability you may be eligible for disability allowance. This may help you get the right care for your child, if not as a baby, when they eventually grow up. There may also be charities that can give help.
You shouldn’t feel ashamed of your baby’s defect or worried of people’s reactions. Share those baby photos and give your baby the normal upbringing it deserves. If the defect is physically noticeable, you will have to continuously keep telling people every time you meet them (which will get boring) but it’ll soon become second nature – as will looking after your child.
The worst thing you can do is go at it alone. Many parents raising kids without defects struggle enough and often turn to some kind of professional help. Don’t refuse the aid of others if it is offered to you.
With time you will learn to feel proud of having raised a child with such a disability. And your child’s defect will become part of who they are, a charming quirk that you have long accepted.
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