After the initial talk of the possibility of Haven having Autism I started to emotionally loose it a bit. I felt like I was dying. I felt like she was dying. I felt like all my hopes and dreams for my sweet baby girl were dying. I know that many kids have it worse, I know that I’m beyond lucky to have my baby girl as many can’t say the same, but then and now this has been our biggest loss in a sense. Having a child with Autism is by no means the worst thing in the world, but it was the hardest thing for us to date. It still is. I wondered at times if this was normal to feel this way? Was I allowed to grieve this? I don’t know the correct answer but I know that for me it was something I had no control over. It had to happen. After much research I realized I wasn’t alone. Many parents go through the 5 stages of grievance after getting a diagnosis.
Stage one: Anger
I’ve struggled with anger many times in my life, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned appropriate ways to deal with it and control it, but this was a new kind of anger to me. A more personal anger, it is so hard as a momma to have anything happen to your child. I found myself so angry at God. Why us, why Haven? I was angry at my doctors who missed my thyroid disease while pregnant, when my growing baby didn’t receive the hormones her body needed the most. I remember researching what the effects could be and having a developmentally slow child was listed as one. I read on my SPD support page “Pregnant women with severe hypothyroidism have nearly a 4-fold inceased chance of having a child with Autism, study revealed.” It was my biggest fear, and here we are today. I blame myself and my failing body, the careless midwife. The man that put me through hell while carrying his child, the stress I was under, the flight of stairs I fell down, did we cause this? Did she feel all my fears and unhappiness? I was angry at all the people that shrugged me off when I knew something was wrong. Angry at the pure ignorance people close to me showed. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that we will never know what caused it, nor will that fix it, and if I kept harboring the anger it would eat me Alive. I couldn’t focus on Havens rehabilitation while fighting the demons in my head.
Stage Two: Denial and Issolation
The denial came but didn’t last long. For a short period of time I talked myself out of it. But day to day problems and the reality of it always slapping me in the face didn’t let me believe that for long. The Issolation was the absolute worst. I still feel this most days, it’s so hard for me to feel like I can talk to anyone about it because most don’t have a clue what I’m going through. I really shut down to those closest to me. For the longest time I couldn’t even say the word Autism out loud, let alone to anyone else. At work I would keeps my lips shut as tight as possible for fear that if i opened them or said something I’d just start crying. I was absolutely all consumed by this and completely alone. Now that I’ve come out a bit about everything it has become easier but that lonely feeling in being a special needs momma never truly goes away.
Stage Three: Bargaining
I didn’t do much bargaining. I’d trade my life if it meant Haven could have a better one but I knew that wasn’t a possibility. We don’t get to pick the cards we’re dealt. It is what it is, onward and upward.
Stage Four: Depression
I have always struggled with anxiety and some other issues. I think at some points in my life I could have fallen into depression but I didn’t allow myself to. This has been the closest I think I’ve ever been to depression and that scares the hell out of me. At first I cried every day, all day. Not just a small cry, the loud, painful, ugly cry that comes over your body that you can’t stop even if you wanted to. I would hold Haven in my lap, with my head on her head, balling into her hair saying sorry for hours. I would watch her sleep and just cry and pray and cry and pray. I felt myself breaking. My chest and my heart hurt so bad it was unbearable. I felt this way non stop for the first couple of months. Some days I still feel like this, I’m sitting here balling as I write this, but it has gotten easier. I make it through days and occasionally weeks now though without feeling completely consumed. Small victories by the grace of God.
Stage Five: Acceptance
I don’t know if I’ve completed this stage yet but I am getting there. I accept my daughter, I have from day one. She is mine and I wouldn’t trade her for anything or anyone in the world. It’s hard to accept a life full of therapy, and struggling for the basic things most parents take for granted but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Haven and to help her. It is hard to accept people are always going to look at her different and many people will never care enough to put the work in to be constant in Havens life but that is on them. It is hard to to see the light every day but I accept Haven, I adore Haven and I accept anything that comes with being Havens momma. God gave me Haven for a reason, I needed her as much As she needs me and that I accept.