Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome to Holland

I would like to post a short essay that was shared with me several months ago, shortly after we found out Sophie is deaf.  I know I've tried to explain some of my crazy emotions in the past, but I think this essay really does a great job in painting a picture of this emotional journey:


I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands.

The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

In the beginning, I could not stop greiving over our lost trip to Italy. I was jealous of all the people that got to go there and have a fantastic, carefree time. I just didn't understand why were stuck in Holland and were never going to make it to Italy. Now, I realize that I am meant to live here in Holland. This is my home now and I am perfectly happy where I am.

I guess I haven't shared this essay sooner because I think I may have just recently realized that Holland is a great place. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of bad days, but I'm sure there are bad days in Italy as well. And the good days? Well, the good days are just simply amazing here. :)


  1. I remember feeling so lost in Holland for quite some time. I wanted out. We weren't supposed to be there. Then I too realized that Holland is SO beautiful and there's so many supportive people who showed me how lovely HOlland truly is. I love this essay.

    and I love your baby girl's blue eyes ... they're absolutely beautiful.

  2. Beautiful girl!

    It's a stressful, hard and sometimes hectic journey, yet so wonderful! Along the way, we'll meet the most amazing people that we never would have had the pleasure of meeting had we not landed in "Holland."

  3. Wow how much does this touch home!! Exactly everything i wish i could get out myself. Brought a few tears to my eyes when i read this! thankyou for sharing! Yes Its taken me some time to adjust to Holland, but i love it as well! Wouldnt change a thing!!! Holland is truly beautiful & magical!
    I LOVE those baby blues sophie has! your going to have your hands full when shes older! lol so adorable!

  4. Hi
    I found your blog through a couple of others that we have in common.
    We are a little farther down the CI path/hearing aid path. Our son is 9 and wears hearing aids and our daughter is 8 and has had her CI's since 2005 and 2008. They are both in a typical classroom with support from the HI teachers, both are oral-no sign language.
    I love reading stories of families who are just starting to walk where we have been. It is an amazing journey, yes there are trying days, but soon those days are replaced with fun
    languge filled days.
    Sophie is beautiful, love those blue eyes of hers.
    Please feel free to check out our I will keep checking back to see how Sophie is doing.

  5. I just happened to stumble upon your blog and I have to say Thank you. My little girl Caelan Grace is 10 mths and was born with profound hearing loss in both ears. Diagnosed during the newborn screening. Our stories are very parallel except we are still one to two months out on the bilaterals. We were given the above poem during a webinar we took for parents of children with disabilities and managing the emotional roller coaster. It is one of the best ways I have ever heard it being described. Thank you for sharing your journey and for making "newer" families hopeful!