Anniversaries of Life and Special Needs Loss, Pt. 1

by Jun 4, 2014Grief, Spiritual Support3 comments

Guest blogger Kimberly Drew describes how celebrating the birthdays of their daughter brings back memories of joy and special needs loss.

  Photo Source: mrsiraphol at

Guest blogger Kimberly Drew and her family recently celebrated daughter Abbey’s birthday. In her two-part series, which begins today, Kimberly describes the arrival of their daughter. She candidly describes the diagnoses of Abbey’s numerous conditions and how special needs loss altered their lives and their parenting experience.

Anniversaries of Life and Loss:
It’s Okay to Feel a Little Sad

Twelve years ago, I was twenty-two years old and about to have my first baby. My husband and I were surprised to find out we were pregnant after only being married for a year. I was in my fifth year of college at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana and had just begun student teaching. Over the next nine months we did all the things that a first-time parent does. While our budget shrank, my waistline and anticipation grew exponentially. We took labor classes, toured the hospital, had three baby showers, and then we waited. We waited, and waited, and waited.

When the day finally came, to say we were excited is an understatement.

We were naively ready to be parents to a perfect baby girl. Then it happened. Or I guess I should say, then it didn’t happen. Labor would not progress. After eighteen hours of induced labor and three and a half hours of pushing, my doctor appeared and in an urgent frenzy, started yelling at everyone. Papers flew, nurses ran into each other, and a neonatal team descended on us like seagulls on an unattended picnic at the beach.

I remember throwing my head back and submitting my soul to God.

In an instant, Abbey arrived. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the silence. The team began working on her right away. No one congratulated me. There was not a single smile in the room. The hush of death hovered over us, and my tender years were not able to process what was happening. I just kept asking why she wasn’t crying.

Why wasn’t she crying??

No one would answer me. No one could say anything to me for the next twenty-four hours that made any sense at all. They lost count of how many times she was resuscitated that night. The fact that Abbey pulled through still amazes us.  We know that God spared her life. People from many states and countries across the world were praying fervently for her healing.

We’re forever grateful.

After almost a month in the NICU she came home and our life changed forever. The next few months revealed bilateral hearing loss and a seizure disorder.  The next few years revealed microcephaly from brain damage and cerebral palsy among a host of other problems.  At the age of twenty-two I became the mother of a disabled child.  I thought I was just becoming a mother.

I had no idea how different my life was about to become.

Abbey’s birthday was April 10th. Every year we celebrate with candles, cake, friends, and family, and a ridiculous number of photos. Every year I lay in bed that night and remember her birth and how the course of my life was inalterably changed.

How Did You Learn of Your Child’s Special Needs Diagnosis?

Does Kimberly’s story bring back memories of learning of your child’s special needs? Share your story in the comment box if you like. Then come back tomorrow to hear more about what the anniversary of life and loss looks like in Kimberly’s family in Part 2 of the series.

Anniversaries of Life and Special Needs: Part 2

Do you like what you see at You can receive more great content by subscribing to the quarterly Different Dream newsletter and signing up for the daily RSS feed delivered to your email inbox. You can sign up for the first in the pop-up box and the second at the bottom of this page.

By Kimberly Drew

Kimberly grew up and went to college in the small town of Upland, IN. She graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Elementary Education in 2002. While at TU, she married her college sweetheart and so began their adventure! Ryan and Kimberly have four amazing kids on earth (Abigail, Jayden, Ellie, and Cooper), and a baby boy waiting for them in heaven. Their daughter Abigail (Abbey) has multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hearing loss, microcephaly, and oral dysphagia. She is the inspiration behind Kimberly’s desire to write. In addition to being a stay-at-home mom, Kimberly has been serving alongside her husband in full time youth ministry for almost fourteen years. She enjoys working with the senior high girls, scrapbooking, reading, and music. You can visit Kimberly at her website, Promises and Perspective.


  1. Jolene

    How beautifully and accurately you have described what so many parents of kids with special needs have experienced and continue to experience. Thank you for the blessing of your words.

  2. Born at the Right Time

    Thank you for sharing this. I have been trying to write a book about my experiences as a mum of a severely disabled son and this resonates so closely with me…

    As I headed towards Sam’s 1st birthday people began asking about gifts and parties. I realised that for me it was much more about marking an anniversary than celebrating a birth. I looked at my beautiful boy and was grateful for him, but the last year had been the toughest of my life and it all started on the 12th October.

    Unwittingly, I began the treacherous road of reliving the past inch by inch. There were few details that passed me by, as I tiptoed through the events leading up to Sam’s birth.

    I took note of the day I finished work, with a healthy baby nestled within me. The last time I went for a swim, my college course and the journey home singing in the car. I made my husband go over the conversation we had had a million times already. Rehashing what had happened, the decisions we had made and what we could have done differently. By the time I got to the night before Sam’s birthday I was an emotional wreck. Sitting in Sam’s room, watching the same mobile make shadows on the same wall, while my baby slept.

    Despite recognising my blessings I wept bitterly with grief at what I felt I had lost. I felt wracked with guilt for failing to protect my son from harm. For failing in my first job as a mother. Then I felt additional guilt for the grief I experienced, when my beautiful boy was tucked up in his cot opposite me.

    I wept for the struggles my baby would suffer and ached with a love that felt beyond me.

    Finally, I thanked God for Sam.

    It was as though Sam’s birthday was funnelling all of my emotions and experiences into a twenty four hour period. One day became a concentrated well, composed of the components of the toughest day of my life, and the shadows of the aftermath I lived in as a consequence.

    It wasn’t a death I was commemorating or grieving, but I life I loved. Yet along with the joy and blessings, came more pain and trials than I had ever imagined. It wasn’t an anniversary that I could grieve and move on from, allowing healing to take place. Instead each year seemed to simply bring me deeper into my new more complex world.

  3. Sylvia

    Oh my what a devastating birth! Thank God that He saw fit to leave your daughter with you here on earth! You were certainly thrust into special needs motherhood weren’t you? We will never forget our “defining moments”, those moments when we find our what we’re really made of- will we?

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



Stairlifts Reviews 100 Best Disability Blogs

EZ Socks

Our kids socks and toddler underwear have Ez pull-up loop technology that will help your child learn to dress themselves.

Portable Sleep Bed for Special Needs

Safe Place are portable, inflatable beds for special needs loved ones at home or away that provide a safe sleeping solution

Subscribe for Updates from Jolene

Related Posts