Mothers nurture, that's how they're made. Fathers protect, provide and fix, God wired them that way.
80% of parents with a disabled child end up divorced. Mostly it is because the father cannot fix it and they feel like failures.
When Lance was born he was transferred to a large hospital with a specialized NICU. My doctor felt so bad for me that she released me about twelve hours after I gave birth. I remember that I begged Kevin to drive me to the hospital to be with our baby. We went into the room and just stood over his little isolette.
That was the last time Kevin took me to the hospital. He refused to go back and told me that I couldn't go. That was the first time I totally and completely ignored any request he had made. I asked my parents to drive me back and forth to see Lance. I want you to know that Kevin isn't hard or unfeeling, he just couldn't bring himself to be in a room and feel so impotent. He couldn't fix Lance, so he ignored him. When we were together I wanted to tell him what was happening and he didn't want to talk. (This is quite unusual since Kevin loves to talk!)
Kevin finally went back to the hospital with me and the girls when it was time to bring Lance home. We made it. Lance was going to live! Kevin thought everything was okay. He cuddled Lance and walked him when he cried and did what every other father of typical babies do. And then our world crashed down around us a second time.
Mothers are on a mission, they forget and ignore everything else and do what needs to be done. They become very focused...how do I take care of and improve my child's life? What needs need to met right now.
Fathers are different, they totally disconnect. If they can't fix it, then they walk away emotionally. Sometimes physically.
Both parents are no longer in the "normal" world. Their thoughts have changed, their focus has changed, their lives are changed. They no longer think about the get together next week or what the new fashion is this year...
Talking with many, and I mean many other parents of special needs children, these reactions are almost universal.
Sadly, the ones who end up hurting the most are the siblings of these little ones.