In an essay in this week’s Newsweek magazine, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin writes about the joys and challenges of raising a child with special needs.

As her son Trig nears 4-years-old, Palin says that coming to terms with his Down syndrome diagnosis was a process.

“When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months,” Palin writes.

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But despite all of her fears, she says her family now feels blessed to have Trig in their lives.

“Many everyday activities like doctor’s appointments and social gatherings and travel accommodations and even mealtimes and a solid night of sleep are that much more difficult, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade the relative difficulties for any convenience or absence of fear,” Palin continues. “We went from fear of the unknown to proudly displaying a bumper sticker sent to us that reads: ‘My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!'”

Despite losing her bid for the vice presidency in 2008 and declining to pursue the presidency this year, the one-time governor of Alaska has remained a polarizing political figure. She weighs in frequently on Facebook and Twitter and offers up her views as a Fox News commentator.

Palin acknowledged in her Newsweek essay that balancing family and career have been tough, and having a child with a disability can exacerbate that effort.

She wrote that she empathized with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s recent decision to take a break from the presidential campaign trail when his 3-year-old daughter with special needs fell ill.

“It’s a sacrifice every parent and caregiver of a child with special needs sympathizes with,” Palin wrote. “Families of children with special needs are bonded by a shared experience of the joys, challenges, fears and blessings of raising these beautiful children whom we see as perfect in this imperfect world.”