Wednesday, 04 April 2012
This post is about one of the few days that have forever changed my life. A day that will always hold a massive place in my heart. It is a day that picked me up by the collar, looked me in the eyes and said, "no going back now." It put me on a road with a fork in it. I had no idea where one choice would lead, but the other I knew for certain would hold regret. The type of regret I could never learn to live with. And instead I let love fill that place. I let love give me courage to make the decisions I made that day and every day since.
Tomorrow is indeed a profound day. It marks the three year anniversary since I discovered I was pregnant. A mere 19 years I had in my back pocket. With my future husband only holding 18. That day we made a list. On one side it said "abortion" and on the other it said "keep". As we sat, in shock, attempting to make a list of pros and cons, I could not find it in my heart to add anything to the abortion side. You see, I loved her so much from the moment I knew of her existence. I didn't care what odds were against us. She was mine and I was going to protect her.
I am going to be raw right now. I never, in a million years, thought I would keep a baby if I got pregnant unexpectedly. But you never know what it's like until it happens. I had been on the birth control pill, so this pregnancy was much like being hit with a freight train. I looked at that test. It mocked me. It was such a simple, little plastic piece of crap. On it appeared a line. Just a tiny, blue line. Something so flimsy looked up at me, announcing that my life would be forever changed no matter what happened. I looked down at my stomach. Nothing looked different. But everything was different.
That day we decided we would keep her. It sounds so wrong even typing that now. In my mind I now feel like of course we would keep her! Duh! How could it have ever been a question? The moment we came to 100% agreement that this was our choice a wave of relief fell over me. It was more than relief, it was peace. It was the feeling you get in your stomach when you know deep in your heart that you have made the right decision. That you dodged a bullet on living a life full of regret.
When we told our friends, no one really approved. Micah and I had only been dating a couple of months. Neither of us acted like parents. Neither of us even acted like adults. No one believed that we could pull this off. Several people directly told me I was doing the wrong thing. That this child was going to suffer because of my selfish decision.
Well I am going to toot my own horn here for a minute, but we pulled this thing off like pros. I read every pregnancy and baby book I could get my hands on. I took early childhood development classes online during my last trimester. I moved back home with Micah to have extra help while learning to be a new mother. I completely changed my lifestyle. I went from a partying college student to a reformed mother to be in those 9 months. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, not a drop of liquor, seafood, unpasteurized cheese, or ibuprofen touched my lips. I was not messing around. I knew if I was going to do this, I was going to do this right. I was going to give this baby as fair a shot as any. And I know that I have.
She had more than enough from the start. She had enough love, enough shelter, enough clothes, enough food, enough toys, enough laughter, enough attention- enough everything. Most of this had to do with my mother. She gave us a home to live in during the end of my pregnancy and the first half year of D's life. I can't say how grateful we were and are for the amount of love, support and financial help she gave us during this time. She still continues to be a strong supporter in our lives. At 7 months we moved back to San Francisco and I returned to school. I was very proud of this achievement, and still am. It wasn't easy to make that come together. I'm sure a lot of people think we got financial help. The most financial assistance we got was having our move paid for by Micah's parents. Everything else we figured out on our own. And even that I am extremely proud of. It took a lot of work and dedication to end up in our own place, to end up back in school and to get on our own two feet. In regards to raising a typical child, I think we were doing above and beyond.
As we all know, autism changes everything too though. We've had to face a whole new set of challenges. We knew we could do it with a typical child, but nothing prepared me for the realization that my little girl had special needs. I remember calling my mother-in-law saying, "I can't do it, I can't face this, this isn't what I signed up for, I want out." And I recall her response so clearly because its what shook me back into reality. She said, "Well, what are you going to do? Send her back? Do you really have a choice? Your only choice is to put on your big girl pants and face this thing head on." She was right. There was no way out. D was here and this was the path I had chosen. Autism was always a possibility, just not one I ever thought would happen to me and my family. Not her. I honestly wondered if I had made the right choice all that time ago. If after everything, I was not cut out for this new challenge.
I was strong enough. I was cut out for it. I was going to face it. One phrase got me through the toughest days in the beginning: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can and The wisdom to know the difference." I think this phrase has been realized in our lives more and more as time passes.
I look back at the day when I was put on a path, a road less traveled than those around me, and I feel so incredibly grateful for how things are. Things are really hard. Things are scary. They are exhausting. They are depressing and they are daunting. But there are also things I would never, ever trade. Things so valuable, I could never have imagined them on my own. Like the type of love a mother holds for their child. Like the wisdom you gain from heartache. And the strength of a family that never submits to challenges. The untapped strength within all of us that can only be realized with endless love. I look into D's big, round eyes and I see everything I am proud of in this life. She is the embodiment of unconditional love. Something I never could have felt without her. She has filled me with empathy for others, as I have realized that each human has a mother. And I know that each of us is deserving of love. I cannot think of all the lessons I have learned on this journey and the many more to come. But as I write about the moment my life changed three years passed, on this rainy day, I feel filled with gratitude.