Unexpected Motherhood - Having Kids with Special Needs
Interview with Stacey Lowcock
October 27, 2021
[00:00:00] laura: Hey, Stacy, and welcome to unsung stories. Thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me. My pleasure, just so that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more. Could you tell us a bit about you and your family life and what everyday life looks like?
[00:00:14] stacey: Sure. So my name's Stacy my family includes my beautiful husband Shane, and we have two boys, Luca and Harvey.
We live in the Illawarra. So down on the south coast my weakness generally looks like caring for the boys at home or traveling lots around Sydney to various appointments. I was also teaching one day a week, but I'm just about to give that role. Yeah,
[00:00:39] laura: right
so you've kind of hinted at it already. And knowing your story already would you mind sharing with our listeners a bit of what the last few years has looked like for your family?
And just all the tricky stuff that's been going
[00:00:52] stacey: on. Yeah, sure. It has been a bit of a whirlwind. So Luca was born, had the end of 2018 and at three weeks old, he was diagnosed with meningitis. So he had to be monitored quite closely. From that and the impact it had on his brain. And then through, I guess, the medical team keeping a close eye on him, he's been diagnosed with special needs in particular global developmental delay, autism and sensory processing disorder.
Fast forward to 2020. And. Blessed with another beautiful pregnancy with our second baby hobby. I was in an out of hospital due to complications in the first month of his life. About three times we moved house three times, but he seems to be the number. And then my husband had ankle and ankle and foot reconstruction.
And was out of action for 13 weeks. And recently the icing on the cake has been that we've learnt that Harvey also has special needs. His cause is unknown at this stage. So we're going through further testing, but he has been diagnosed with global developmental delay.
[00:02:05] laura: Oh, my goodness. That just sounds huge.
So you mentioned all of these diagnoses that your boys have. What does that look like in everyday life?
[00:02:14] stacey: A lot of busy-ness and not getting to the tasks that I would have thought motherhood. Looked like, so cooking and cleaning my house and just enjoying playing with the kids.
We have with Luca, we have five therapy appointments. We go to a week. Most of them have been in Sydney and one has been out of Baulkham Hills for the past year. But now that we've got two boys and finding out how these diagnosis, we're trying to move more of. Down to the Illawarra. But
[00:02:44] laura: you'd hope they're on time.
[00:02:45] stacey: Yeah, trying to manage two kids has been hard with you know, traveling BM seven and having a baby crying time in feeds and then taking one in. And I it's very, hands-on, it's not like I can sit back once I get there, actually I have to be on the floor, joining them in their therapy at home looks like exercises and practicing all those things.
And then between. This week and last week I've been on the phone. I've had 30 phone calls with medical professionals around hobbies, situation and therapists. And that's about to ramp up more. So. So intense a taxi driver sometimes, which I'm grateful. God's given me the love of driving. It's a lot
[00:03:25] laura: how humbling, I think, you know, being a school teacher and I'd assume you like kids, just those, those plans of what those early childhood days would look like would just be so different,
[00:03:38] stacey: really different and just crazy.
That time to, you know, set up the play experiences I wanted to the kids. I think one of the sacrifices in this is the invitations from friends and family to come to things and constantly having to go, oh, sorry. I can't, because that's a physio day or I can't, because we've got this appointment at the hospital and really wanting to be able to join in on those things and just.
Feeling like I'm not in around for my friends as much at the moment has been really hard. Yeah. That's
[00:04:12] laura: Oh, Stacy.
Adjusting to motherhood's hard enough and, you know, having another kid and all of that, but I mean, I'm sure that the stage of motherhood's looking different to what you had imagined, just having to navigate all those diagnosises and all the hard stuff. Our relationship with God is always solid because we're in Jesus, but how do you feel your relationship with God been through all of this?
[00:04:35] stacey: It's been so up and down like moments where you're so close to God and other moments where you're trying to figure out what's going on. Overall it's been quite good, but there has definitely been moments where it's felt like the roller coaster, where one day your faith is solely in God and other days I'm on my knees, crying out to him, trying to work out his plan for our life.
[00:05:03] laura: So what heart struggles has it brought up for you?
[00:05:06] stacey: It's brought
up quite a few different ones. So I talked for a couple of them. I think the one that is at the forefront of my. It would be how you want the best for your child's life.
And when you get a diagnosis for your child and they have special needs, the, the picture that you had in your head isn't the same anymore. And you wonder what their future is going to look like. And through that journey, I think I've learnt that all that truly matters is salvation. And it's really changed the way that I look at things.
So. We wouldn't give up boys the best chance for their God-given potential despite their diagnosis. And when you're in that space, there's lots of appointments and implementing all the recommendations and exercises and you've really focused on. But there just came a point where I went, you know, what, how much am I focusing on my boys' salvation?
Because at the end of the day, that's all that matters. And I really want that to be evident most of all in our boys lives and I want them to be in heaven and I want them to know the love of Jesus. So yeah, just, I guess not knowing their future, but still making sure that I focused on salvia.
[00:06:19] laura: Which is a real tension to live in because , as a mom, you are called to, to care for them and, you know, do the best that you can.
So that is taking them to therapy and stuff. But, but I like that you're looking at through a salvation lens and that their relationship with God is more than.
[00:06:38] stacey: Yeah. And he has the best plan for them. He knows he needs them in our wombs. He has, he, hasn't made a mistake here whatsoever. So it's trusting in that.
And that's the purpose for all of us is to know God and to have that relationship restored.
Even though knowing salvation is all that matters, I still found myself turning to everyone else or looking for help from others before turning to God.
And then I guess I just ended up feeling really disconnected. When Shane was out of action for that 13 weeks post his surgery and, you know, dealing with a newborn as well as the continued challenges of caring for a child with special needs. The timing at that point was just off for us with friends in our lives, who would usually lend a hand.
Everyone seemed to have something major going on. But I think God really used that struggle to point me to him because I can remember being on my knees, crying out loud. Where does my help come from? And Psalm 121 coming to mind. Where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
Often I think I've gotten caught up in the concept that this world talks of a village and whose your village, but sometimes it's just not possible. And we actually need to remember to look to God for our strength and help. So yeah, that was, I guess, one struggle that I've really seen. God refining me.
[00:08:11] laura: Mm. Yeah, that's beautiful.
[00:08:14] stacey: On the heart struggles, another one for Shane and I would be trusting.
Go on planes ass steps. That's been really major for us finding a contentment in his plans that has been such a tug of war. When you have special needs children, the dreams and the plans that you might have of what it looks like for your family can often get put aside. For us, it was at the time of Luca's diagnosis.
We had actually been working really hard to get to Canada and filling out the paperwork for that saving for that, doing the international language tests. That was a dream of Shane's for quite a time and something we talked about when we were dating. So for God to close the door on that was hard, I guess, humbling.
And we know he has the best plan. We know God has the best plan and it talks in Providence about how men plans the course, but the Lord plans our steps. And we need to accept when God closes those doors, but also not just extend.
Let's say his blessings around us. And I think our eyes have been really close to that. Laura, we wanted something so badly that we couldn't see the blessing of family nearby and friends in our life and that beautiful church family, as well as the therapy services that we can access and workplaces that are so understanding of our situation.
[00:09:45] laura: Yeah.
[00:09:46] stacey: God gods. I had a hand in that
[00:09:50] laura: I think it's really beautiful that he's not just giving you this hard thing and left you on your own. He's actually given you, I guess that village that you were wanting, just not in the way that you thought it would look and just providing for your needs, even though you might not think that.
[00:10:08] stacey: Yeah, I he is always providing for our needs. And I think it's funny, I said to you at the start, that's been a bit of a roller coaster and I even look back now and I'm , wow, God has used this to. Grow us in our marriage in such a beautiful way. It's actually,
[00:10:24] laura: yeah, that's what I was just going to ask.
How has that been on you? Both because two kids is hard enough. I feel when you have kids, it kind of makes you change both of you change and you go through hard things together. How have you two gone through?
[00:10:38] stacey: All of this, it's actually been really great for our marriage. I think it's bonded. Both together like it.
I think it does the extreme side of the bonds. You quite closely or pulls you quite far apart. But interestingly, I remember it was new year's Eve and we just went for a drive and must the needs of our children have bonded us together. I was just feeling so distant from God and. Alone and wondering, , what's your planning all of this Lord, but despite Shane's and my closeness not wanting to be that vulnerable with him, especially when it's something as a Christian couple that you want the foundation of your marriage to be Christ to then say, Hey, I'm not sure where my head's at at the moment in our faith, it was quite scary.
But actually when I said it out loud, It's relief came over me from sharing my burdens with Shane of the doubts in my faith and sharing seen together. And , even when we don't know the answers being encouraged to still remember Jesus, and I think it can be a really scary thing to share those doubts or your disconnect from God.
But Satan wants us to buy the lie to not speak. But God's word says the opposite in James five 16 says therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed because the prayer of, of righteous person is powerful and effective. And I feel , well, that fear of these doubts and questions and loneliness, I guess, distance I felt from God just kind of went quite quickly.
[00:12:20] laura: Yeah. And you might even still have those questions because it's not wrong to, to have. Yeah,
[00:12:26] stacey: no, it's not.
[00:12:27] laura: So it can feel wrong.
[00:12:30] stacey: Oh, absolutely. I think there's a bit of a stigma about it still, which is makes it all the more harder to speak up and go, Hey, this is where I'm at in my faith. And then add the hard things and it's just like, you know, a bit of a tumbleweed keeps rolling.
[00:12:44] laura: Yeah. I've been reading Habakkuk lately. Nice. And I've been really encouraged in chapter one. He's crying out to God asking, you know, why is, why is the Babylonians or whoever it was doing this? And God answers him saying my hands in this and have a cup kind of goes back to him going. I know your, all these truths about God, it's like he couldn't reconcile that God's hand was in this bad sinful thing happening and kind of demanded that God answered him again.
And I really was encouraged that that was someone who , could still recognize the truth of God, but couldn't reconcile it to what he could see around him. And. Demanded God answered him again. God, just, yeah, it just seems a bit crazy to me, but really encouraging that it's actually a sign of faith that you can go to God going.
I'm not understanding here, please. Please help me to understand. I don't understand what you're doing.
[00:13:46] stacey: Yeah. It's super encouraging. I liked Jerry for that reason too. Like in all of job's suffering, I love that. You know, God spoke back to him, the Lord speaks and he says, who are you to doubt me? And the greater picture being like, trust me, I've got you in the Palm of my hand.
Trust me. Yes. Yes. Yes. I love that passage.
I think the biggest thing though, I, despite the doubts, despite the emotional roller coaster, I've actually seen God's goodness. I think we often hear at church that, you know, you need to trust God in the storm. At least personally speaking, that is one of the easiest times to trust God, because all else has failed and falling around you.
And it's so evident that God is who you need. And that's all that's left to cling to and lost. We should go to him first. I think the storms helped me really focus on that. Yeah. When I guess the world sees hopelessness, the beauty as a Christian mom is that I can see God's power on display.
You know, the whole verse impair, it talks about his power is made perfect in weakness. And so I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses and I've just seen have Tenda and faithful God has been, he's just been so gentle and calm. And had a lot of mercy on us, even, particularly around Harvey's diagnosis.
I remember when we got it because we'd found out that day that Shane's about to have surgery on the other ankle. So he's about to be out of action for another 13 weeks. But he's also studying at the moment and he, he was on uni break. So to get news of Harvey's diagnosed. And have a chance to be able to process that when we would usually have a more hectic schedule, otherwise was really precious.
I know that even with Luke as meningitis, Philippians four, six to seven, where it talks about having prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God will try and send you all. I'm standing and guard your hearts. I look back now and I don't think I fully understood the weight of what was going on with Luca at three weeks old.
With these meningitis in hospital, but I, I can testify to feeling God's peace. The doctors would look at us and they'd say to us, you two seem really calm. And we just feel like it's God's peace and in the medical world. And I don't want to hear about God, but even the fact that God can use our weakness to glorify big glorified.
And I think as I, 40, 30, 31, there's just so many verses Laura that have been on my heart and mind lately, but , it's a common one. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like Eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. I just, God is giving us the strength each day.
He loves us. He cares for us. He's blessed us beyond measure and, and beyond measuring our circumstances. Sure. But beyond measuring that, he wanted to restore a relationship with us and sent Jesus to die for us. And he rose again. And he's made a way for us to have a relationship with him one day, where there will be no more tears, no more pains where my boys will have perfected buddies.
Yeah, I just, I can't sing his praises enough.
[00:17:32] laura: That's a really beautiful, beautiful spot for you to be sitting, particularly when you're still in the thick of it all. Your boys are still quite little. And so I guess reflecting on everything that's happened so far, what's been the biggest take home for you.
So I think it's beautiful how you just can see God's hand. Yeah. Hey, I'm working in at all, but what's, what's been the real thing that, that has encouraged you.
[00:17:59] stacey: Oh, it's hard. Isn't it? There's so many. But I think the thing that's encouraged me the most is I I'm someone who likes to control and plan life.
I've always been someone who's thought big picture and. God is teaching me a lot at the moment that tomorrow's not promised and he has a perfect plan. And all, he asked us for me to be obedient today and to glorify him today. And I think there's, I've learned that there's a great comfort in knowing that God does have a perfect plan for our lives.
It is a blessing to know that he cares and he's in control. If we care for our children so much, how much more does God care for us? And I think the truth that truth provides hope as we face an unknown path for the future, because we don't know what else is going to unfold with the boys, but the future is perfectly and rightfully known by him.
And we're looking at his word, not one of his promises has failed yet. So. To rest in that is such a beautiful thing. And I'm so encouraged that I can, I don't understand how people who don't yet have Jesus as their Lord and savior rest in themselves. I love that I have a place that I can run to so that I can find comfort in refugee.
[00:19:23] laura: That is all so true, what a great reminder. I feel like, these little, little things in little ways it's a common theme in motherhood, regardless of how the specific circumstances play.
Sorry, what hope or encouragement would you offer to the mum who is wrestling with this stuff? Even if it's not the same walk that you're going through.
[00:19:44] stacey: I guess when our days don't go as planned, what, when life seems up in the air, I remember that way you can make plans, but the Lord determines our steps and we need to really turn those frustrations and the unknown into rejoicing, because that is actually God's will.
And I've done this a few times when I've felt caught up in those circumstances of frustration of the unknown one Thessalonians five 16 says rejoice, always pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances that this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. And I think it's actually quite the anecdote to Psalm 34.
If we do rejoice and we do pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, then you're going to taste and see that the Lord is good. And I think that's just such a mind shift to what the world has to offer.
[00:20:43] laura: Yes. I think it is completely different. And I also think some days that can be really hard to do. So I like your encouragement to pray. Cause I think even if it's, you don't even know what to pray in that moment, even if it's just Lord, please help me. Please remind me of truthful place drawn need to me all of those sorts of little cries out if you don't know the specifics, because life does feel up in the air.
[00:21:12] stacey: and then you're right. It's not easy to do, but I, I even remember doing it in hospital when Luca did have meningitis and writing a post about it on the Instagram where I said rejoice, always. Yeah. I'm grateful that we have a beautiful song. Pray continually Lord, would you please help the doctors find answers?
Give thanks in all circumstances, God, thank you so much that I'm in Australia where there's a great hospital where he could get the help he needs. Like it's beautiful, hard circumstances. We can do it.
[00:21:47] laura: Yes. And also where you're looking for your answers will. Be the type of answers that you get. So if you are searching Instagram or other podcasts or, you know, Just looking for answers in these hard times.
We want to be finding the answers from the Bible and from God's word, because that's where the honey is going to come from. Right?
[00:22:10] stacey: Yeah, absolutely. Now in the head.
[00:22:13] laura: And would you have any specific encouragement for the mom who's listening and she's just in the trenches of a big diagnosis and kids with additional needs. What truth would you remind her?
[00:22:24] stacey: Firstly, I want to say it feels so lonely and it really is an additional load to carry, but my encouragement I'm going to cry.
[00:22:34] laura: You can take your time.
[00:22:37] stacey: Oh, sorry. Laura,
[00:22:40] laura: kind of nice to hear people be real
[00:22:43] stacey: well, let's go with it and see what happens. It feels so lonely and an additional load to carry, but I would encourage that mum to write one Peter five seven on their hearts and on their mind it says cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
I'd tell that mom to keep spending time in God's word, to refresh you and find verses that can't fit you, but also create a prayer network. I think it can be really hard not knowing what the future holds for your child, but we need to remember to share Jesus with them because that's the most important.
I'm so encouraged by the verse in Matthew chapter 19 verse 14 is Jesus says, let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven, belongs to such as these. And I think sometimes with children with special needs, you wonder how much they're taking in, but even for the non-verbal and severely disabled, God is at work.
And we can trust in that.
[00:23:47] laura: Thank you so much for coming on the show and being real with us today.
I've really appreciated your reminder that at the end of the day, its salvation that matters most.
The reminder to seek Jesus, and that there will be times that the load feels too heavy to carry, but that we can give our anxieties to God - He cares for us!
Would you mind wrapping up todays show by praying?
Gracious Lord. I just bring before you all the moms out there listening today, Lord, as we care for you for the precious children you've placed in our care, would you help us to keep sowing seeds of your love and grace into their lives? I God, for those moms who are feeling so burdened and struggling to keep pressing on at this time I ask, I beg of you, Lord renew their stress.
I ask that you surround them with your comfort and put people in their lives to love and comfort them during the trials they're facing. Well, would you help
us to remember the future
so perfectly known by you, please calm out anxious hearts, but most of all, fill us with your spirit so that we will we're Joyce always and pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances that you would be honored through it all along.
They with us today as we go about looking after these little ones, I pray amen.