The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An Unexpected Destination...

Most parents of children with Down syndrome have read this poem, "Welcome to Holland".  I will always remember the day I read it for the first time.  It was the morning after Hailey was born.  We had been shocked with an early delivery, our precious newborn baby girl in the NICU, and the devastating (or so I thought at the time) diagnosis of Down syndrome.   One of the lactation consultants came in to make sure I didn't need anything and that I had started pumping so that Hailey could get her "liquid gold" as soon as possible.  The woman told me about her brother who had passed away about 4 years ago.  He had Down syndrome and was 56 when he passed away.  The joy on her face when she spoke of him was beautiful.  We talked for about 15 minutes.  Actually, she talked and I sobbed.  She left me with information for the local chapter of the Down Syndrome Association and the poem "Welcome to Holland".  She told me to read it when I had time and felt up to it.  My husband was in the waiting room with some of our family and friends.  I was alone so I decided to read it. 

Here it is for those of you who have not seen it before...

Welcome to Holland

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After several 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 horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place. So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. 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. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re 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 experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a 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.
written by:  Emily Perl Kingsley in 1987

I was amazed to read a poem that was so accurate to how I was feeling at that moment.  It all made sense but I wasn't to the part that I could see the beauty of Holland.  I was still so mad that I wasn't in Italy.  I was so mad that it wasn't the woman down the hall...why did it have to be me...why did it have to be my sweet little Hailey?  I questioned God's decision for a long time.  Why did he think I could handle it?  Why did he have to make Hailey different? 

That was a little over 7 months ago.  We have met so many different people here that I wouldn't have known before.  I've met a fabulous group of parents (even if it only through the internet) that know what it is like here in Holland.  I do, however, think we have the cutest group of children I have ever seen!  We are celebrating different things...yes, our children completing the same milestones, just at a different pace (and in some instances...before or at the same pace).  Holland is beautiful...don't feel sorry for me that I was detoured and didn't make it to Italy.  It isn't a sad place, we aren't burdened.  There are still times (very few) that I wish we were in Italy but then I realize if I was in Italy, my beautiful little girl wouldn't be there.   

On a funny note...I finally got my new camera today.  I was playing with the settings and taking pics of Hailey.  We have an issue with the camera right now...Hailey blinks every time!  Thought you would find these funny!

Finally...but it is incredibly blurry...I think I was laughing too hard by this time!

Like the comedians in my family?

 Can you tell Ian likes attention :-)


  1. A lot of people have been saying how in the very begining, its hard to see the beauty. We all were in pain and struggling those first few daya, weeks months. But you get there evntually. The fog lifts, and all you see is your baby, not you baby with down syndrome. I love how the poem ephasizes the importance of not letting the pain consume you. It is th only way to see the beauty

  2. You just made my night with those blinking pics! Killing me over here!! and yes, I think our kids are way cuter too.

    I am certainly happy to be in Holland. And I think that the pain does go away.

  3. Have you read "Amsterdam International" By Dana Nieder...It's another take on the Welcome to Holland piece. It's not something a new parent just receiving the diagnoses would find comfort in reading (at least I don't think anyway)...But I find it hit dead on how I felt in those early days and it was beautiful to read. You can google it, or its on my blog back in October of last year.

    Love the blinking pictures, haha