Having another baby after a child with special needs.
Sibling for a Special Needs Child
"So..when are you going to have another baby?" The dreaded question for every first time special needs parent. Giving Keanu a sibling was something I never thought we would do. Funny how the body and mind has different ideas!! But seriously..it was a topic I would brush off and answer politely (in the beginning).."Oh I'm not sure yet..", "Nope, got our hands full right now.." then after a few years of people asking, (and sorry to those closest to us!) they got the answers; "Stop asking because I don't know if we ever will!" or "Probably never to be honest".
A Special Needs Sibling- a huge decision!
When I think of those responses I feel sad because people just wanted the best for our family, they saw how cute Keanu was and obviously just wanted more!! BUT...what a lot didn't see was the struggles behind the scenes; our reality of doctors appointments, seizures, injuries, hurt....When we were in the thick of it we wondered how could we ever add another child to the mix? It would just be insane to do so!
The Shettles Method...Taking a risk!
Fast forward to 2018 and I had an impression, an inner voice which was hard to ignore, that we should have another child. Keanu was now 5. Jordan didn't take me seriously for a few weeks, thinking I would probably stop talking about it soon. But no no no... when this girl has an idea in her head ha. I was pretty sure this may be my final pregnancy so for our family we were hoping for a girl. For those of you who don't know there is a "method" called the Shettles Method which Landrum B. Shettles wrote about in his book 'Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose', published in 1970. This method has its fair share of believers and sceptics. To find out more look here: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/conception/gender-selection-shettles-method/ and here: https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/shettles-method-sex-selection
The sixth edition of 'Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose' (2006) provided data from updated studies that showed a seventy-five percent success rate for couples that tried for females and an eighty percent success rate for couples that tried for males. However other studies have also contested these findings. So Look... I'm not saying it 100% works but for us we thought why not give it a go? In October 2019 we welcomed our daughter Koel Te Awhina, when she was being born all I remember is the midwife saying "She's a little blondie!!" and me thinking 'Yessss my genes have made some kind of appearance this time!'.
Special Needs Parenting - Not Living in Fear
Having another child when your first has special needs opens up all kinds of different conversations. As Keanu's condition is De Novo, which basically means not inherited from either Jordan or myself, we felt why not have another baby and have faith. For me in particular I didn't not want to have another baby because of fear. I didn't want fear to hold me back and then get later down the line and wish I had another child but it be too late. I actually had quite a few visions of this happening which made me even more determined that it was the right thing to do.
A New Sibling for Keanu
As a family Koel has brought lots of joy into our lives, and we can see that as she is developing and getting older she is eager to communicate and interact with Keanu. He isn't so keen on her yet haha but when he does notice her its heartwarming for us all. I have no doubt that Koel will be a tremendous source of strength and support for Keanu during his journey. Growing up with a brother with special needs, it is our wish that she is kind, empathetic and inclusive to all she meets who are diverse. Which explains her name-sake 'Te Awhina' meaning helper & supporter.
If you know a special needs family who are undecided about more children please share this post with them. Please also share to help others understand the complexities of families with additional needs along with the pleasure a sibling can bring.
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