June 9, 2015 | By: Barbara Knighton
It has long been said that people can't change. This may be true, but sometimes people are forced to change. A tragedy often leaves people with a different outlook on life and makes them have to change to adapt.
Can a tragic event truly change who you are? From my point of view it can. I had a very normal, calm life before my son was born. I enjoyed a budding career, personal freedom and lots of travel.
I was a very different, carefree woman back then. I was selfish, materialistic and self-centered. I was used to coming and going as I pleased and spending time with my husband. Then in a matter of 27 hours all of that changed.
My son was born early via emergency c-section due to my blood pressure being dangerously high. Unfortunately, my son was affected greatly - the damage to his brain had already been done. It took some time for me to get well and for my son to be released from the hospital.
All of a sudden I was faced with dealing with a very medically fragile child, postpartum depression and the loss of my freedom. I was tossed into a world that was no longer about me, but all about my child. I spent day after day in doctors’ offices and hospital waiting rooms. I became a frequent tenant of the Ronald McDonald House.
I soon realized that the life I knew was gone and possibly never coming back. I literally buried the old me and began stumbling along the path of life to reinvent the new me. After focusing solely on my son's needs for three years, I came to the conclusion that it was time to start focusing on some of my own needs, both physical and mental.
I finally realized that my old career had ended and I had begun multiple new ones - caretaker, advocate and parent leader. I also knew that if I did not create something to focus on other than my son's needs, I would end up in a very bad place.
So I became a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge about his diagnosis and the resources that were out there. I became actively involved in the disability community. I attended conferences, support group meetings, workshops and trainings. I eventually formed my own support group for parents of children with disabilities.
I figured that if this was my new life, I was going to be well informed and help others while helping myself. So far it has been a challenging but rewarding ride. I am more confident about advocating for my son's needs and I’ve made some lasting friends along the way. With every person I meet and every conference I attend, I always learn something new. I know that I will never fully comprehend all that is out there and that I still have a lot to learn, but I will make sure that I am the best new me that I can be.
Be sure to check our Find Services, Groups & Events page on this website for information about parent groups and conferences. You can also see more ideas and opportunities on our Connecting with Other Parents page.