Welcome to Holland

Holland vs. Italy

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 Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. 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 horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. 

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….and Holland has tulips. 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 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.

* * *

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

This poem so eloquently describes what the journey into the life of NICU feels like. It wasn’t what I planned for my babies. It was being immersed into a world that I knew nothing about and that I did have to learn a whole new language for. Even with having two preemies in the NICU, our first stay with Kaylen in the NICU didn’t completely prepare us for the journey that awaited with Ryan. I must say that is what is beautiful about “Holland” is all of the special babies you met, the strongest moms you’ll ever know, and all the NICU staff that helps get you through each day at “Holland.” We are forever bonded by our trip to “Holland” together. It is those relationships that make Holland priceless.

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