Adding to your family is one of the most joyous times you can have in your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There are so many things to consider and plan for, and your emotions may be all over the place as a result. When you receive news from the doctor that your baby has special needs, things become even more complicated. You may feel guilt, grief, or worry about the future and what it will bring. What’s more, you may be concerned about the financial aspect of caring for a child who has a disability, as well.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prepare for your baby in the best way possible. You can start by garnering support from friends, family, and parents who have experience with a child who has a disability; in fact, this is one of the most important first steps for moms and dads who are expecting, especially if this is your first child.
Keep reading for tips on what to consider when you’re expecting a child with special needs.
Modify Your Home
Making changes to your home can help you and your child stay safe and healthy, and the modifications you can make are very specific to your child’s needs, so it’s important to do some research. From adding a ramp over the stairs to making the bathroom safe and accessible, there are several things you can do. Home modifications can be costly, however, so it’s crucial that you think about the changes that will make the most sense for your family. Keep in mind that there are several grants available that can help you pay for those modifications.
Allow Yourself to Feel What You Feel
It’s also important to learn how to care for yourself during this time. You should anticipate grief, anger, denial, and even feelings of depression as you learn more about your child’s diagnosis and think about what the future will bring; these are all normal emotions, and it’s imperative that you allow yourself to feel them rather than repressing or pushing them away. Giving yourself permission to own your feelings will help you cope a little easier. You might think about looking for a support group online where you can vent, ask questions, and find help.
Plan for Expenses
Having a child can be an expensive endeavour, but the costs go up significantly when the child has special needs. It’s a good idea, then, to start planning now for additional expenses that you’ll incur over the next five or 10 years. You might open a special savings account or look into Social Security benefits that will help you cover the mortgage or medical expenses. The more you can prepare before your baby arrives, the better able you’ll be to cover the big costs.
Make Things Easier
There are many things you can do to make life easier as a parent, from prepping meals for the first few days after the baby arrives to cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. Think about the best ways to make things go smoothly when you’re feeding, bathing, and carrying the baby, both around the house and when traveling. Look for car seat/stroller combinations that will make the transition from the car easier or clothing for both mom and baby that will make feeding time go more smoothly. Consider, as well, whether the baby will be sleeping in your bedroom in a bassinet during the first few weeks; if so, you might set up a small station near the bed that can hold wipes, extra diapers, bottles, medication, and anything else your infant might need.
Ask for Help
It’s important to ask for help when you need it, whether it’s from friends, family, or parents in an online support community. You might need assistance with getting the baby’s room ready — especially if modifications need to be made — or simply cleaning the house in preparation for his arrival. New parents could always use a little more rest, so anything family members can do to help you relax or get more sleep will be helpful. You might delegate a few jobs, such as doing laundry, going grocery shopping, or cleaning up the kitchen, to your loved ones so you can take a nap. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed for asking for help; all new moms and dads could use an extra set of hands, especially in the first few weeks after the baby comes home.
When it comes to making sure you and your family are prepared for your new baby and his needs, it’s important to consider your own health and well-being as well. Caring for a child who has a disability can be an emotionally and physically exhausting task, but with some preparations, you can ensure that your home and life are ready for the joy of a new baby.