“Welcome to Holland” -Unexpected Outcomes in Birth and Parenting

In pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting, there can be times of unexpected outcomes. From the moment you find out your expecting, your mind is filled with dreams and hopes for this new little person that is going to come into your life. You begin to dream, hope, set goals for their future. It can be a very exciting time. However, sometimes life throws us a curve ball and what we expected didn’t happen. Our vision for our life with this child has forever changed, but it isn’t necessarily bad…it is just unexpected, different. The beautiful Emily Perl Kingsley wrote a short explanation in her tremendously touching poem “Welcome to Holland”. I would like to share with you her story in her words.

Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability, to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you are having a baby it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It is all very exciting.  After months of eager anticipation the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says…”Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!? you say, “what do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But, there has been a change in the flight plans. They landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It is slower paced than Italy. But after you have been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills…Holland has tulips…Holland even has Rembrandts! Everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  For the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that is where I was supposed to go. That is what I had planned.” And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever, go away…because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.

Unexpected outcomes with our children are difficult to handle at first, frustrating at times, and absolutely life altering. You will most likely go through a grieving period as you realized your dreams for that particular time in your life have passed on…but keep in mind your new outcome can be beautiful, can be exciting, and it may turn out to bring you more joy then you ever expected. Life’s most captured joy can come from life’s most unexpected moments. After all what would our world be like without the spectacular breathtaking beauty of tulips and rembrandts!


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One Response to “Welcome to Holland” -Unexpected Outcomes in Birth and Parenting

  1. B.T.U. says:

    I’m a writer from Wittenberge, Germany just submitted this to a coworker who is running some research on this. And she actually bought me lunch only because I came across it for her… lol. So allow me to paraphrase this…. Thanks for the food… But anyways, thanks for spending some time to talk about this matter here on your web site.

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