It is the Joy of Giving Week and we found this extremely moving piece by Anu Nadella, wife of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on her son Zain, who was born visually impaired with limited communication and quadriplegia.
“Our journey, as traumatic as it has been for Zain, has taught my family not just how to cope but also the power of kindness”.
Here is the story in Anu Nadella’s own words.
After delivery, he was rushed by ambulance to the Seattle Children's neonatal intensive care unit. To this day, an ambulance siren symbolizes a precious life and brings a prayer to my lips for its occupant.
Having a newborn is hard; it's a long, 24-hour day. When the baby is fragile and has medical needs, it stretches out even more. Questions such as Did I do something to cause this? and Am I doing enough? creep up. These doubts make you judge yourself harshly and feel judged.
I recognized that most people have something stressful in their lives and that as a result, there is an inherent understanding and empathy out there. This I decided to focus on. When my child had a meltdown in a grocery store, I forced myself to respond to the man offering to unload my cart rather than the cashier rolling her eyes.
I was new to the Seattle area, and Zain's birth introduced me to the best of what this community had to offer — friends bringing food when Zain was in the NICU; amazing care and commitment at Seattle Children's Hospital for every child; endless love and support from Zain's first occupational, physical and speech therapists and caregiver, who became our closest friends; my parents stepping in unasked.
'Zain is so giving,' says Anu. 'He's been through so much, and he still has a smile for you.'
Having a child with special needs is isolating. Talking about it opened several doors. This shared experience with similar families was invaluable. In accessing programs for children with disabilities I met exceptional people involved in helping others. This support system not only embraced our family but also taught us to step in to help others — sometimes just by listening.
Today, Zain is a charming and handsome 21-year-old who loves spending time with his family. He has a discerning passion for music. He has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia and is legally blind. He has endured many painful medical interventions and will likely face more. Even in his most vulnerable moments, Zain shows great resilience and strength, which inspires me. That stops the internal chatter of Why me? Why my child? When he brings his maximum effort to the table, I think about needing to do more for him and others.
Families with a child with special needs develop their own way of coping. Our journey, as traumatic as it has been for Zain, has taught my family not just how to cope but also the power of kindness. I learned the empowering art of being kind to others. And it taught me to find that kindness for myself.
This article was originally published in Good Housekeeping.
Source of banner image: Good Housekeeping
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