A few minutes after my son was born I held him in my arms I looked up at my beloved and didn't have the words to express what I was feeling. Just like that, I was a mother.
It was a year before he'd be diagnosed with a vision disorder that caused delays. It would be another two years before his sister would join us and bring a surprise inside her body that she would share with her brother. It would be then that we would learn they both had Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease, or ARPKD.
Motherhood was an adjustment, as you might imagine. I'd like to think I'd handled it pretty well in those early days. Two years before my son was born I'd begun freelancing, anticipating staying home with a baby and I worked nearly full-time until he was born. I'd nursed exclusively, he was a good sleeper (undiagnosed kidney disease anyone?) and I felt competent. We did okay, the two of us.
Fast forward a couple of years and within 3 months we had two sick kids with multiple special needs to take care of that resulted in an unbelievable amount of appointments for the next year because blood pressure stabilization and 10-13 (ot, pt, speech, vision & feeding) therapy visits a week.
It was a terrible time of adjustment for me but as I just put one foot in front of another a transformation happened. As I was caring for them and their complicated needs I started to change.
I became an advocate.
A caregiver, tear wiper.
I became a story teller, a schedule keeper.
A comforter and soul protector.
I became a researcher and juggler. A medical aide and fighter.
Pill dispenser. A shot giver.
A volunteer, a speaker.
I became fearless and fearful.
I became a better daughter, sister, mother. A better friend.
I became a better wife.
I became more grateful.
I became a better person.
I became the mother I am today.
Julia Roberts is co-founder of Support for Special Needs.com and until late last year was the writer of the blog Kidneys & Eyes. She lives in Atlanta with her husband Julian (yeah, the name thing is a bit much for them, too.) and kids, who have both had kidney transplants, will need liver transplants and are thriving at a school for kids with learning differences. She survives by laughing at her life and regular infusions of Diet Coke.