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Simmerville web proudly introduces Lucy Test of Sim Dale neighbourhood, with a series articles about living with a special child. She will share her experience from bringing up Jack, her child who suffers from learning difficulties.
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Life With a Special Child [1]
July 19, 2002 - by Lucy Test, Sim Dale

I have heard some reports that Sim families are the least tolerant of less than perfect children, sending them to military school if they donít like the look of them, or even allowing new born babies to be taken by welfare services for not being the desired gender. As a mother to three wonderful children I was shocked to hear this and thought that maybe, by writing this article about life with a special needs child, it will encourage young families to be more tolerant with the gifts they have been given.

My Husband Alex and I met on vacation and our holiday romance blossomed into real everlasting love.  We married when I was just 22 and Alex was 24, and discovered we were going to be parents almost one year later.  Our son Jack was born after a very traumatic labour and emergency caesarean. When he was three months old the doctors told us he had suffered from oxygen deprivation during the birth.  This means he has learning difficulties and special needs, but he is still a very precious child.  I work as a Journalist and Alex is in the army.  Over the next few months I will be giving you a look into our family life and I hope you will enjoy getting to know us all.

P   a   r   t       o   n   e

One of the most overwhelming desires a woman can have is the desire to become a mother.  When Alex and I married we never doubted that we would have a big family, I have three sisters and Alex has two brothers and four sisters.  We had decided to wait a while as we were moving homes and we were both very busy with our careers.  I think it was more down to me than Alex, he would have been happy to start a family whenever I wanted, but I was so unsure of myself, and a little selfish, and more than a little apprehensive about how a child would change my life.  When I found out I was pregnant all that seemed to melt away, and a feeling of contentment settled over me.  I spent my days dreaming about pushing my baby in the park instead of worrying about the front page of the newspaper I worked for.  I had no doubt that I would be the perfect mother to a perfect baby and along with Alex we would be the vision of a perfect family.  When our son Jack was born, he had dark curly hair like his father and big blue eyes.  I adored him from the moment he was born, singing to him and cradling him in my arms, it made me wonder how I had ever considered being anything but a mother. 

Jack was three months old when we took him to the doctors for a routine check up, a day that was to change our lives forever.  Dr Mele, our paediatrician, said Jack had suffered from a lack of oxygen during his birth and that he was slightly brain damaged.  He said it was nothing that would have an effect on Jack in any serious way, but that he was likely to be a difficult child, needing special care and attention.  I cried all the way home, I had a vision and Jack didnít live up to it.  I became distant from my son, and I didnít want to hold him, I felt I had betrayed him.  Alex cared for Jack for most of the next few weeks, with my mom coming over to help twice a week.  It was because of her that I realised that I still loved my little boy.  He was fretting and didnít want to feed, She came over and placed him in my arms, and he stopped crying, he looked at me with his big innocent eyes and I felt the same rush of love I had felt when he was born.  I fed him and rocked him and sang to him, I loved him.

Often Jack would scream and scream and nothing I did could quieten him, I would get very despondent, feeling a failure but I learnt patience and understanding, he was screaming because he didnít know any other way to express himself.  He was slower to develop than other babies, at six months he still couldnít sit up on his own.  But he was so bright; his eyes would dance with laughter.  He loved bright colours and would turn to look at them; red and yellow were his favourite.  Both Alex and I were exhausted but neither of us would swap what we have for the world.

Next time, In part two:  A new baby for the family - how does Jack react to a new sibling.