This is a blog post by Rachel, a military wife and mother of two children. Her daughter RM was born with a 4q Deletion and has an autism diagnosis. Rachel was part of the ‘Light the White House Blue for Autism‘ campaign and has a blog,’Welcome to StimCity.’
It was the longest wait of my life in that Recovery Room, but I was finally brought to a private maternity room on the floor. Within minutes, a nurse was wheeling in my beautiful baby girl. As she passed RM to me –I can still feel the sensation – my heart swelled with a new kind of love, one that would carry me through a journey I had never guessed was coming.
I can recall purposefully not looking at the pinkie finger. Instead I studied every other inch of her. I can also admit that her overlapping toes were undeniable. However, it was far easier at the time to believe that any kid who had spent the last several months literally sitting on her toes would be a bit scrunched up in that area.
But then there was the matter of her very tiny, nearly non-existent chin and very tiny mouth. She couldn’t latch on to my breast to feed and after failing to breastfeed my son, I really wanted to find success this time around.
It was a no-go. She just couldn’t do it.
The nurse came back with a bottle and after several attempts at that - long periods of sucking that barely drew a drop from the nipple - panic was beginning to set in. She would cry of hunger, but the cry was a sound I had never heard before. Muffled. Like there were cotton balls in her throat.
Where the hell was my husband? Why was I sitting here all alone with this baby and getting nowhere, having no answers and feeling that I was sinking into a dark abyss. Call it denial, postpartum exhaustion – whatever – but I was not bonding with this child. Instead I was terrified.
I don’t remember much of that first afternoon into evening. It would be 24 more hours or so before my SGM made it to the hospital. In the meantime I was alone. I had sent RM to the nursery so that I could rest. But in reality, I think I had done so because I was unable at the time to process that my baby’s entrance into this world was a far cry from joyous.
I only needed to make it through that night. Then I would see my soldier again. And he would make everything alright.
The next day, when my SGM walked into my room, my world was whole again. He would prove to be the strongest, most faithful soul I had ever known – from that first moment he held her, he knew in his heart RM is perfect just the way she is.
A soldier who commits his life to serving our country innately possesses certain qualities that few of us civilians can fully understand. SGM has never faltered in his belief that even when the mission is critically compromised, remaining steadfast and courageous can still get the job done. Failing to follow through is not an option. He has applied those same principles to RM, and in doing so has taught me to keep fighting.
We cannot change the world without first being the change we seek.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to email@example.com. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.