When I was a teenager a new family moved into our ward (our church). That family had a young son who would flap his hands, mumble things to himself and would occasionally have outbursts in the middle of church. That was my first ever experience with autism. He was different and I was even a little bit scared of him. I’ve been known to try to make bargains with God! 🙂 I would pray as I was watching that boy telling God I’d do anything but please don’t give me a child like that. I found myself watching him every Sunday though. I was intrigued and felt compassion for his family. Looking back, I think I knew deep down that I would someday be blessed with a child like him.
As far back as I can remember, I have dreamed of being a mom. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always the same….a mom. I wanted a house full of kids! I wanted my house to be the house that other kids wanted to be at! I wanted to take super fun trips to the beach with my car full of kids, just like I grew up doing! I pictured being a team mom for my sons t-ball team and a dance mom for my daughter! So naturally when I found out, shortly after being married, I was pregnant with my first child-I was beyond excited!
My pregnancy was considered normal, I worshiped the toilet the first trimester and was fine into my second & third! I gained the normal (at that time) 35 pounds. My due date November 28th was the same my whole pregnancy and my baby seemed to be a healthy baby boy!!! I shopped and decorated for my baby boy like the excited new mom I was. I read books and prepared to be the best mom I could. My pregnancy was a text book pregnancy with no problems!
On November 26th I started to feel pain and thought maybe this was it! So as any new soon to be parents, we jumped into the car not knowing exactly what to expect and drove to the hospital, in Lancaster, CA. The labor was painful (duh) and hard (duh) and super long (duh)!! When it came time for pushing, it lasted upward of 2 freaking hours! Finally my dr. suggested using the forceps because Kyle wanted to make sure he started his life out with a bit of a protest! Finally around 4am on November 27th (Thanksgiving day) Kyle made me a mom, weighing in at a healthy 8 pounds even, with RED hair! I was so beyond happy (except I wasn’t super stoked on the red hair-figures that’s what I was blessed with! haha!). Seeing your baby for the first time is a feeling that can’t truly be described with words. I was in love-red hair and all.
The hospital pushed me to start breast feeding right away. But true to Kyle, he would not latch on! He was already so stubborn! I had many nurses come try to help me but we just struggled…and to add fuel to the fire, he wouldn’t take a bottle either! Those first couple days in the hospital were rough and I was looking forward to getting home and establishing our routine! Hoping that being in our own home would help make things a little easier! I had no clue what I was in for!
We got home and Kyle continued to struggle with breast feeding and bottle feeding and hardly slept at all, unless I was holding him- he would just cry. ALL. THE. TIME. There were many MANY nights I would just rock him and we would cry together. Many days my mom would come over and we would take him on walks in the stroller with him crying the whole time. I realized within the first couple weeks that motherhood was going to be much more difficult than I ever imagined. After about 3 months we finally found a bottle that he would take (yay!). Little did I know that this was just one of the many battles I would have to face with Kyle! We were finally able to establish some sort of routine, but he would still cry. A lot. And still wouldn’t sleep! I was exhausted 99% of the time, and probably had red puffy eyes most of Kyle’s infancy!
I remember seeing my friends with their babies and being so jealous. Their babies would sleep. Their babies took a bottle. Their babies seemed so happy. My friends seemed to LOVE motherhood, and here I was hiding the fact that I was on the verge of crying pretty much all the time, because my baby cried….all the time (I feel like when I say a lot -it isn’t a strong enough word!!!) and seemed miserable. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt completely alone and truly sad.
At Kyle’s well baby visits I would fill out the questions the best I could. When it would ask about his milestones I never wanted to say he couldn’t do something, so if he kinda sorta did something, or he did it one time, I’d justify in marking the question as ‘yes’ and try to not think any more about it. I didn’t realize at the time that I should have been marking no to most of the milestone questions. But I would watch my friend’s babies reach milestones that Kyle clearly wasn’t and deep inside I knew that things weren’t right with Kyle. Even though I wrestled with myself because I so badly didn’t want something to be “wrong” with my baby. A few times I would casually ask the pediatrician about missed milestones like crawling and zero babbling (like nothing) and lack of real eye contact. This is just to name a few of my concerns at the time. I even remember asking about autism specifically. But the pediatrician reassured me that “he is definitely NOT autistic-because look how affectionate he is with you!” He told me that Kyle was a typical boy and was just slower at reaching his milestones. Man, did I cling to those words. For many more months I held onto the hope that Kyle was “just a boy” and would catch up to babies his age in no time. Because a pediatrician knows more than I do, and he told me my precious baby was just fine….except I knew he wasn’t.