Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Look Closer

Look Closer
Amie Nguyen

Since the birth of Lucy I have opened my mind to ideas and information that I never knew existed. The meaning of the name Lucy is “light.” This is so fitting, in all the different interpretations of the word light. Though light is all she sees…she brings light to the lives of all who know her.

My pregnancy with Lucy was a time of bonding and preparation. I listened, and hoped, and imagined what a wonderful birth I would have. The day came and all went just as planned. With that, Lucy taught me to trust my instincts, to listen to my soul, and follow my heart. We knew from the moment she emerged from the water that she was amazing. Shortly after her birth a number of “experts” told us to expect that Lucy would need numerous procedures throughout her life to maintain basic health. We were told that she would be blind, handicapped, burdened with seizures, and mentally unstable. Initially we believed these “experts.” The retinas in her eyes were detached, she was missing the piece of the brain that transmits information between the hemispheres, the frontal lobe portion of her brain was malformed, and her head was abnormally small.

We believed those “experts” and hoped for the best...until we really looked at Lucy. We saw a baby who was functioning normally, who was happy, content, and healthy. We saw hope, inspiration, and joy. With that we dismissed the services of all the “experts” except her pediatrician (who was hopeful and supportive and happens to believe in alternative therapies). Lucy has continued to impress us all since the day she was born. She has reached every standard milestone either before she was due or right on time (except for visual skills), is healthy, and thriving. As I look to the future I see Lucy as a musician, a dancer, a radical activist. I look forward to seeing what Lucy will impress us with next.

As a mother of three (going on four) you’d think that I’d feel this hopeful and positive about all my children, but I don’t. I fear for my other children’s future. I fear that they will succumb to the mainstream influences and struggle through many hardships. When I am in the presence of others, they tend to look at Lucy with despair and pity. They see her sunken eyes and her small head, and they can look no further. They do not see her sense of humor, her coping skills, her physical strength, her affection, or her intelligence. They look to the other two children and they see hope, and promise, and beauty.

I do not hide Lucy’s differences and I do not accept strangers’ stares or their pity, and I do not allow them to lessen my pride. When you see a child who is different smile at her – but don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t smile back. Tell the mother the child is beautiful and mean it. Remember that despite that child’s differences the mother thinks s/he is wonderful and beautiful. Acceptance is a priceless gift.

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