Two of a Kind: A Revealing Look at ASD Mothering

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with my son’s delays. Every day I think about it, I think about what the world will be like for him in the future. I think about the journey for our family. I often wonder if he loves me as much as I love him…he doesn’t have the words to say it, but deep down his hugs seem real enough to make me believe there’s hope…

Two of a Kind: A Revealing Look at ASD Mothering http://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/a-revealing-look-at-asd-mothering/

When I found out I was pregnant with Eli, I was crushed, not excited at all, but sad. Sounds harsh, I know, but we had just had a baby, who was eight months at the time. How was I going to take care of two babies that close together? How could I do that to my daughter? I would not be able to give her 100%, I foolishly thought. I felt extremely guilty for taking away the time and energy I should have had for my little girl…

During my pregnancy with Eli, I was sick, had a lot of pain, and was not able to do simple things like give my daughter a bath, or put her down in her crib. I was huge! I just wasn’t as excited about this pregnancy as my first. What a terrible mom I had become…

The day Eli was born, I was excited, but more excited about not being pregnant anymore. I tried to cry happy tears when he was born, instead I cried because I was scared, nervous, and struggling with the fact that I was a mother of a 15th month old and a newborn. What was I going to do??

We brought him home and I cried the whole way. Then the guilt set in. How could I not be overwhelmed with joy and happiness? He was an amazing gift from God, right?

Eli cried from the beginning, didn’t sleep well, and had eczema. My husband and I were walking zombies, but still had to take care of a curious, rambunctious soon to be toddler. It was hard, real hard! During that time I noticed something wasn’t quite right with my emotions, my feelings about life, and my overall sense of control. Like my life was slipping away, and I didn’t seem to care…numb.

As my daughter got older, she had reached all the milestones much earlier than most kids. She was so eager to learn and had a drive like no other child I knew. My son also crawled, walked, and said a few words. He paid attention, when I talked to him, and showed emotions. My kids were fine and I was a mess. Feeling disconnected.

I’m not sure how it happened, but as I was quickly fading away, my son was as well. We would go shopping and everyone would comment on how sleepy he looked, and how quiet he was. He would stare at things, and not pay attention to strangers, or even his own mother. He stopped saying words, and looking at me. Maybe I was just not interacting with him enough, I was also in my own little world as well. I knew something wasn’t right, with either of us…

I soon started therapy, I needed someone to talk to, someone who would listen and not judge, and someone who would tell me I’m not crazy. I needed to know if I should stay with my family instead of just packing up and leaving. It had gotten that bad. The therapist helped me realized that I was human, and I was not alone. She walked me through my past, and helped me focus on my future, WITH my family. Lots of meds and sessions later, I was fixed…or so I thought.

My son hit the 18th month mark and his doctor visit was more than just the average routine checkup. Questions were asked and most of the answers were no. I had a moment of “oh no, something is definitely wrong, here.” My doctor recommended, many therapies for him. Sound familiar, after all therapy had helped me. He started speech, physical, and occupational therapies. They seemed to help some, but the expenses were adding up, so we decided to just keep him in speech. That was his major problem, anyway. Months went by and we saw improvements here and there, but by his two-year checkup, the answers to the questions were still no. I was convinced he had autism…

My crazy thoughts were starting to rise again. Had I done something while I was pregnant to cause this? I knew it was my fault. I was the one who cried about his existence. I was the one who didn’t want to have a second child so soon. I was the one who didn’t pay him enough attention, I was too worried about myself. God had punished me…

My husband has always been supportive and my number one fan. My coach when I was down, my rock. But even he was hit hard by my son’s challenges. After all, that was his fishing partner, his little league pitcher, his little boy. But as the days passed my husband stayed so positive and encouraged, I, on the other hand, felt heartache and was filled with an overwhelming sense of guilt. I was feeling sorry for myself, and no amount of love and support seemed to be helping. I was jealous. Jealous of what other parents had, a milestone reaching, emotional seeking, and baseball playing little boy.

I’m getting toward the end of my story, and I’m sure your waiting for the heartfelt moment where I have a turn around. A positive spin on the story. Well, the truth is I am still struggling every day. I still ask God “Why”? I still blame myself for things out of my control. I still wonder about the future. I often think about the day my son was born and wonder if he saw my fears, my struggle. I truly believe we were meant to be together, to learn from each other, and to give to each other… the gift of patience and understanding.

We can do it together, Eli, just lead the way…

Summer Stewart is the mother of two amazing children, Eli (3 yr.) and Scarlett (4 yr.) Eli inspires her to write about the daily struggles and victories of being a mother of an autistic child. She also started the Facebook page Autism Insight of Alabama which provides resources and promotes autism awareness.

This article was featured in Issue 37 – Making Educational Strides

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