Will I Be A Good Parent? A Journey of Acceptance
Have you ever been scared or anxious about an unknown situation? I bet yes!
We have all been anxious about a math test. Or your driving test. You can practice, prepare and do the test. If you fail, you can do it again, and again and again.
Will I be a good parent?
How is it with parenthood? Can you fail to be a parent? Can you practice and retake your exam as a parent?
It all starts with that one test... and that one small amount of urine... Yes!! You are pregnant!! The best feeling ever!!
And then reality hits! Am I going to be a good parent? How am I going to change the diapers? Make food for the baby? What if she is crying? What if she has pain but can’t explain it? What if I make a mistake? How does she know that I love her? Can she feel it? See it?
The most common questions new parents asked themselves when they find out they are pregnant. Seeing your baby grow in your tummy, feeling her kicking, and after 9 months holding her in your arms. Amazing feeling! The best feeling ever!!!
When people ask...
When people asked me if I wanted a girl or a boy, my answer was pretty standard, almost cliché “I want a healthy baby.” That was my only focus. During my pregnancy I’ve made sure that I ate a lot of healthy food, drank enough water, took my folic acid, and the right vitamins, so my baby could be healthy.
Discovering I had sickle cell trait
It was during the 20th week of my pregnancy that I found out that I had the trait. My world was upside down because her dad had the trait too. A simple math test shows that when 2 parents have the trait your chance of a SS baby is 25%.
Since I found out about my status, my only focus was on the 25%. It sounds crazy because there is a whole other 75% left with good news! But I chose to focus on the 25%.
The best day ever!
July 2011 was the most beautiful day of my life. The day that I knew that my little princess is a true blessing and miracle. Her name is Miracle because I knew from the beginning that God had a special plan for us as a team.
It took us 28 months to wait for the results to find out if she has SS, AS, or AA. There was no newborn screening in my country, so I could only try to prevent a crisis, just in case. Very early I needed to make sure that we were living by the rules, and if she didn’t have SS, it was all good. But if she had SS and we are not careful then it can be a problem. So yes, my main focus was on the 25%, just in case!
After 28 months we got the big news! I was shocked, sad, upset, mad, and lost! I felt really lost! It was an unknown situation to deal with, even though I focused on it for 28 months.
I didn’t want to know anything about this. It was scary, and too much to handle. Now that I knew, I started to pretend that it was not there. Hopefully, it would disappear if I did that. Can you relate to this? Pretending that something is not happening, just to make your life easier?
It was my mom who took the lead because she saw me struggling and for her, it was important to educate herself on sickle cell disease so she can take care of it in a healthy way. After a couple of months, my mom started to send me some videos to show me that it is not scary and it doesn’t mean that I will lose my child when she is 4 or 5! I couldn’t watch the videos, I just didn’t want to hear anything about it.
That one day my mom told me “Andressa, you need to educate yourself on sickle cell disease, so you can take care of Miracle and give her the best life because she deserves it.” Slowly but surely I started to read about it, watching videos, and I started to talk to others with sickle cell disease.
It was not easy, but the most beautiful moment was that day when I took my little princess and watched a movie with her to explain what sickle cell disease is all about. After I educated myself on sickle cell disease, I started to educate her as well. Because I believed that it is important to learn about your condition at a very young age.
I purchased a lot of books, and assets and made sure that we had everything needed. The moment I accepted it, was the moment I started to be the best mom for her. I was able to have normal healthy conversations about sickle cell disease, and shared all the tools with the schools and family members.
Educating those around me
It became my mission to educate everyone around my little princess on sickle cell disease.
Looking back, 10 years ago... I could have done a lot of things differently. Because I would have made my own life so much easier.
It is normal
It is normal to be worried or anxious, and it is normal to have a lot of questions, so ask all the questions you need, feel what you are feeling, but never pretend that something isn’t there, while your child needs you the most.
I had my mom, my sister, and my other family members who were there for my princess when I couldn’t be. It took me some time, and I do understand that not everyone has a mom, or another family member, to push them in the right direction. So here I am, writing this article for you, to push you in the right direction, and to let you know that you are not alone!
Have you taken our Sickle Cell In America Survey yet?