Welcome to….Holland?

I don’t know quite where to begin to explain the myriad of emotions that have flown around with the birth of our wee boy. We undoubtedly love him to infinity. He is wonderful. Yet with all that love comes a stack of other feelings wishing it was all somehow different.

Heart Children gave us a book about being parents of a child with a heart condition and in the foreword of it was this piece of writing that really resonated with me.

by Emily Perl Kingsley.

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. Michelangelo’s David. Venice. The Cinque Terre. Roma. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s 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! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place to where you thought you were headed. 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’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve 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.

But still everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s 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.

At the moment, I feel a lot of grief that we aren’t in Italy as we had planned. There is sadness, and to be honest some anger too, that we don’t get to join our family and friends in the same place that they are with their children. It doesn’t seem fair. But reading this story makes me realise that while we aren’t going to have the same experience as others, we are still somewhere very special. It’ll just take time to adjust to this unexpected destination.


  1. Hi Sarah and Marcus,

    I just wanted to say to you Sarah that I don’t know anyone who has the glass always overflowing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or saw you with your glass half full.

    Albie doesn’t realise what a special family he has been born into but I hopw oneday he understands his Mums strength and greatness.

    Marcus I don’t know you but, I know Sarah would only have the most special person to share her life with.

    I know there is nothing I can do to help you out but I want you to know, you are not far from my thoughts and prayers.

    My little nephew on Gavins side was born with a very special heart and has had so many operations however, (with a 15% chance of survival at birth) Ben is now 8 and recently had the BIG op we all waited 8 years for. The operation was more successful than expected and Ben has bounced back to himself very quickly. It amazes me how resiliant these little people are.

    He is an amazing kid and although at times a little blue he is just a typical little Kiwi boy. His Mum is incredible and has always been so positive about his future.

    I know this is far removed from you guys but I have seen what it is like to have a special baby and I know how special our babies are.

    I think you were chosen to be Albie’s Mummy because I don’t know another soul as special as you Sarah. I will always admire you and the incredible wayyou face the world and anything it throws at you.

    I am sure you will love Holland and everything it has to offer. I’m with the majority of the population visiting Italy and enjoying all it has to offer but my I admire the people that experiance Holland and the specialness it has to offer.

    Take Care give that wee boy a kiss from me and just know I will always be in total admiration of you.

    Lots of love, hope and best wishes

    Emma xx

    • Thanks babe – and thanks too for telling us about Ben. Marcus and I read your message together and found it really comforting to hear another heart child’s stories. It all feels so overwhelming at the moment, but knowing that one step at a time, he will become healthy again, means that we can trust that we will get there in the end. Its a lesson in surrender and trusting that is for sure.

      I was pretty fixated on Italy! But I, of all people, should know that life has its own way of choosing the destinations we are to visit! Mr Wrigglesworth is absolutely worth the detour though – he is beautiful, and we are trying our best to focus on that place of health that we will get to.

      Love you lots gorgeous xxx

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