A letter to my childless self

Dear pregnant me: You are adorable. Yes, your belly is getting huge, and yes, your hormones are making you crazy. But you are doing great. This is the easy part. And childbirth will be the easiest part of this journey that you will ever have. So calm down, revel in it, and enjoy it. Your life is about to be flipped upside down.

You’re going to have a wonderful, frightening, healthy delivery. You’re going to do it in less than seven hours, and you will accomplish it all-natural, as planned. When your son is placed on your chest, you will fall in love like never before. He will have an awesome looking storkbite on his forehead, and the doctor will tell you with a look of sympathy that it will probably go away. But you won’t care. He’s your baby, you’d love him no matter what!

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Your son will develop like any other child. He will coo, giggle, cry and respond to his name. He will be a late crawler, and a late walker, but not too much to be concerned about. You’re a first time mom, why worry! He will be colicky but your decision to switch to a sensitive formula, despite the doctor saying he is fine, will be the right one. He will start talking, and he will seem totally normal. Until he doesn’t.

At a year and a half, your son will stop talking. All those words carefully learned and celebrated will simply drop out of his head. He will start to get upset over things you can’t understand. He will stick by your side, and have anxiety about being away from you. Learning new words will now take months instead of a few days. The pediatrician will tell you he’s fine. He’s wrong.

You will spend the next few years worrying about his speech, and his behavior with the random outbursts that boggle your brain. You will have therapists in the house, doing their best, and not making much progress. You will hear repeatedly from his doctor that despite your concerns, he is fine. Then he will go to preschool, and his behavior will get worse. The teacher will tell you he’s fine. The team will agree. “He’s got a speech delay, that’s it! His tantrums are only from frustration.” You will hear this over and over and you will continue to doubt it.

You will have another baby, and she will grow up meeting every milestone that your son didn’t. She will be social in a way you can’t fathom, and win the hearts of all around her. She will be God’s gift to your family, becoming your sons best friend and best source of comfort. She will also have a speech delay, but she will teach you something too.

You will compare your children, even though it feels wrong. You will worry about your son, about his behavior, about his future. You will look between them and wonder why they are so different if they have the same setback? Your daughter does not have the behavior issues, or the random meltdowns, and by watching her you are convinced that something is not normal. You, with your husband, will decide to seek advice elsewhere, trusting your own instincts. You say, screw all you experts, we know our kid! And you will be right.

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You will finally find a doctor who will spend an hour with him and tell you that you were right. He will show compassion, understanding and support. He will be angry at the thought of the inadequate care received from people who were supposed to help him. He will work with you to come up with a plan to figure out the root of his problems, and find a solution. He will recommend more therapists for your son and tell you that you were right to compare your kids, because it’s easy to see the difference and get the right help because of it.

In the end, your son has a speech delay, sensory processing disorder, possible obsessive compulsive disorder, and he is high functioning on the autism spectrum. But even though you would feel overwhelmed to hear of it now, you will be happy to find out. You will be thrilled to be told that there is a name for his problems, and that there is help. You will immerse yourself into the world of similar people, learn about him and react with compassion. You will fall more deeply in love with who your son really is, and everything will be worth it. You will continue to doubt your own abilities as a parent, but just remember the journey.

You were told by everyone that you should have been able to trust that there was no problem. You were not encouraged to seek other opinions, and you were not prepared for him. But you rose above all that, learned from your little boy and found him the help he needed. You will have so many days where you feel like you JUST CAN’T. But you can. And you will. Because underneath the blood tests, the therapies and the meltdowns, is your precious little boy with the amazing laugh. And there will be a lot of laughter. And so much love. And you’d do it all over again, given the chance.

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