Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected, but oh, please love me.
I ordered Kelle Hampton’s book as soon as it was available for pre-order on kalahari. I love her blog, she writes beautifully and her photos are amazing. I had tears streaming down my face for the first chapter, and had quite a few more teary moments throughout the remaining chapters.
Kelle writes about the experience of finding out that her baby has down-syndrome on the day she is born. She is shocked and devastated, and this book explores her feelings and emotions, as she comes to accept the diagnosis. She envisions her new-born baby looking up at her and saying “Love me, love me. I am not what you expected, but oh, please love me”… Throughout this process, it is clear how much she loves this baby, but at the same time, she needs to mourn the loss of the “normal” baby she was expecting. Her raw, emotional account is both heart-breaking and uplifting. The book took my breath away, and made my heart break for this incredibly strong woman. As a mom, I can only imagine the range of emotions that she must have experienced: loss, fear, disappointment. But at the same time, the over powering surge of love that one feels for a new-born, that instinctual need to protect and care for them, no matter what.
It made me think back to my appointment with a foetal specialist when I was 12 weeks pregnant with Caris. Being over 35, and cognisant of the higher risks associated with a pregnancy in one’s late thirties, I wanted to be sure that the baby growing inside me was perfect. (And Gary had already suffered the loss of a baby due to a birth defect, an experience that no-one should have to repeat in one lifetime.) So my gynae suggested I see a specialist to confirm that all was okay, and do an amnio if need be. I remember lying on the examination table with the cold ultrasound probe pressed against my belly, and thinking “Please God, let my baby be ok, please let it be perfect.” Thankfully she was. I am still not sure what I would have done if there had been something wrong. In Kelle’s case, she did not know that her baby had Downs until the moment she held her for the first time. (And she was perfect in her own way.) Is it better to know if there is something wrong with the baby, so that you can prepare for what lies ahead? I have always been pro-choice, but surely the decision to perhaps terminate a pregnancy must be one of the hardest decisions a mother should ever have to make? Is it better to know, so that you can prepare yourself for the potentially difficult path that lies ahead? Or is it better to deal with it at the time? These are all very sobering questions.
The book is sad, yes; but it is ultimately a celebration of life, love and family. It is beautifully written and is adorned with stunning photographic images. Well worth reading (and have a box of tissues close by.)