Zainab

@adnanthekaleju

How old is your baby?”

“Six”, I say, with a huge smile on my face.

“Six months?”

“No, six years”, still with a huge smile on my face. “He just turned six!”

I can see the embarrassment on your face. I can sense that you feel bad. But please, please don’t. I understand. I know Adnan looks like a baby. I know he looks different. I am not upset. I am proud. I am so proud to say that he is six. I am happy that you asked about him. I am happy that you acknowledged him.

Six years ago, I would drag myself with Adnan to multiple baby classes. I hated them. I told others how great they were. I made myself go so I could get out the house and meet other new mums. But I hated them. I felt lonely. I felt sad. I compared Adnan to the other babies and kept wondering when Adnan would babble, roll or sit. I felt like a failure watching all the other mums breastfeed and not being able to breastfeed Adnan, despite exhausting myself pumping milk for him so that I could give his compromised immune system the best chance. I hated all the cliques that had formed that I wasn’t a part of. I spent the classes hoping no one would ask me questions about Adnan’s milestones so I didn’t have to have any awkward conversations.

Six years on - and I welcome those conversations with open arms. There’s no denying that Adnan is different - but I am so so proud. Of him. Of us. Look at the joy that radiates from him. That bounces off Amena and I. He can babble! He can roll! He can’t sit unaided or walk - but he can drive his little car to his hearts content. He makes us proud every single day. Look at how far we have come.

To the mum of a child with a new diagnosis - one that has thrown you into a world of unknowns, of uncertainty and of worry. I want you to know that you will be okay. I want you to know that you don’t have to force yourself to do the things you think you have to do. You will learn to navigate this new world in your own way. You will stop comparing and start to celebrate every tiny little milestone. You will bite off the ears of anyone that will listen when asked about your child. And you will be proud beyond measure.

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