The Fear had been just beneath the surface, breathing down my neck ever since the day the ultrasound technician told me that my fourth child would be a boy. I had three little girls at home, one with Autism…and boys are at an even greater risk. The thought remained in the back of my mind from that day until the day he was born. Then I held him. The Fear melted away as I breathed him in, kissing him on his sweet baby forehead, and thanking God for another chance to experience the blessing of motherhood. He was perfect, as all babies are. He snuggled for the first time on my chest and I didn’t see the risk. I only saw my son.
The Fear would reappear, sneaking up on me from time to time in the next few months. Then he’d smile. He’d reach another precious milestone and I’d breathe a sigh of relief. My worries were disappearing. The Fear had taken a backseat to hope…until just before his first birthday. My happy-go-lucky baby became more and more intense and agitated. More and more sensitive to sounds and textures. More and more fixated and repetitive in play. More and more distant…less and less engaged.
I knew better than to wait. A few weeks later, I walked through the door of an Autism specialist, The Fear taking it’s place at the forefront of my mind. Then it happened. The Fear disappeared completely. The Fear became Reality.
Through that specialist, Reality spoke it’s first words to my breaking heart:
“Though he’s too young for an official diagnosis, I wouldn’t hesitate to put him somewhere on The Spectrum.”
I sat watching my son play. The specialist kept talking, but I’d already left the room in my mind. I’d already begun grieving the loss of a thousand dreams. I’d already begun praying that God wouldn’t allow Autism to take as much of my son from me as it had of my daughter. I’d already begun preparing myself for the denial of friends and family. I was already holding my breath so that I wouldn’t start crying until I got back to the car.
Tonight, as I relive the day my daughter was diagnosed all over again in my son, I find myself on my knees begging for mercy. A place I’m all too familiar with. I can’t begin to find the words to pray. I can’t understand God’s plan in all of this. I can’t see past the blinding pain. The deep, all-encompassing pain of a mother who watches her child taken to another world that she can’t enter into, to fight battles she can’t always help them win.
Tonight, I’ll allow myself to cry…because I learned the first time around that being strong all the time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ll let myself fall apart as my baby sleeps in his crib, so that I can get up in the morning and hold everything together. I’ll be as scared and as sad and as devastated as I need to be right now, so that I can be as brave and as positive and as strong as I need to be when I get out of bed tomorrow.
Tonight, I’m making a choice. I’m choosing to trust that God knows what He’s doing, even when I don’t. I’m choosing to believe in His promises to heal the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3), to comfort those who mourn (Matthew 5:4), and to save those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). I’m choosing to look past the painful uncertainty and see the breathtaking beauty that is at the heart of each of my children, regardless of diagnosis.
Tonight, for my son, I’m choosing faith. In faith I chose to bring him into this world, and in faith I’ll lead him through it. No matter what challenges we face. Because God is good. All the time. Even when The Fear becomes Reality.