When you are getting ready to give birth you are fully focused on everything you have to look forward to after your child enters the world. There will be so much to do once you get through the birthing process and bring your sweet bundle of joy home. Few parents are prepared for how it might affect the life they planned out for themselves and their child when things go wrong.
Each year approximately 28,000 birth injuries occur in the United States leaving new parents and their extended families devastated and mourning the loss of what should have been. While progress has been made in reducing the number of these negligent incidents, that doesn’t provide a lot of comfort when it happens to your child and you suddenly have to learn to navigate through unexpected hurdles.
The unexpected challenges of birth injuries
If your child’s birth injury is severe enough, it leaves him or her with cognitive, physical, or emotional disabilities, which you will have to find a way to maneuver through these as a family for the rest of your lives. Understanding some of the unexpected challenges can go a long way toward helping you get through some rough patches.
- Bonding with your child can be difficult. You may be afraid to handle your baby or feel distant because he or she doesn’t have the ability to register emotion or interact with you the way you typically would with an infant. The inadvertent rejection may cause you to experience feelings of resentment. You may also have feelings of guilt over what your child will face even though you had no control over the outcome that led to a birth injury. Some parents may even experience psychological trauma that can make it hard to connect with your baby and form a strong bond. The important thing to remember is that you can get through it with help from counselors.
- Your marriage and family relationships can become strained. The psychological turmoil you go through when you have a child with an unexpected disability can easily seep into every relationship you have. The mental and physical exhaustion takes a toll and when more than one of you is feeling the pressure, it can either bring you closer together or push you apart. You are suddenly not just caregivers to an infant but caregivers to an infant who will be totally dependent on you for almost everything even as he or she grows up. Even relationships with extended family can become difficult as they try to insert their unwanted advice, or they feel slighted and pull away when you don’t have as much time for them.
- Your other children may feel forgotten. When you bring a child home who will need the vast majority of your attention, it can be detrimental to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of your other children. They may not understand why you can’t spend hours playing video games with them anymore or take them to the park for the afternoon. Even harder is that they may also have a tough time bonding with a new disabled sibling who is seen as taking their parents’ attention and affection away.
What can I do to “survive” my child’s birth injury?
There are several problems that can arise just prior to and during the birthing process. If these conditions are not properly diagnosed and treated, they can lead to anything from mild temporary problems to severe permanent disabilities. Both situations will require medical treatment and financial resources that you didn’t anticipate. One will just require much more than the other due to the life-long need. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to help your family get through this.
- Allow yourself to grieve. There is no time limit for feeling sad or robbed of something that was taken from you without warning. Even though your child is still with you, your entire family has experienced a loss. Going through the grieving process is a healthy coping mechanism as you try to begin healing from the shock of knowing your child may never have the experiences you wanted for him or her – or yourself.
- Obtain legal advice. Most birth injuries are avoidable, and the treatment and care your child may need can be prohibitively expensive. Unless you can secure financial support that you may be owed due to medical negligence, the financial burden may prove to be too much. Your family may suffer, and your child may not get the level of care he or she deserves without the required financial assistance. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can calculate your family’s financial need and work to obtain a settlement that will ease some of your stress.
- Find skilled experts to help your child. While your child may not have the future you had hoped for, he or she can still have a meaningful life with the right therapy and treatment. These programs can offer your child a chance at independence, better mobility, speech therapy to help with communication, and reaching other goals that will enhance your child’s life.
Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202.463.1999.
For more than 40 years, Barry J. Nace has worked to protect the rights of victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. Throughout his career, he has proven that multimillion-dollar awards are not a matter of luck, but the result of experience, hard work, outstanding trial skills, and an unquestioned dedication to justice. To date, Mr. Nace has produced dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million with three in excess of $30 million. Read more about Barry J. Nace.