When my husband and I were first married and talked about the size of family we wanted to have we both agreed that 4 kids sounded like a good number. We both come from families of 4 children. I get very sick when I am pregnant so after Matthew my number then became 3. I felt like I couldn't do it again. I was also dealing with a screaming and crying all day child who was very dependent and having problems. Well Heavenly Father had something else in mind for me. (Now remember in a previous post I mentioned being religious.) This next thing that happened in my life I firmly believe was God communicating with me. I was sitting listening to a talk from a church leader and I HEARD in my head, "You need to have another baby." And ignored that voice and kept on listening. I did NOT want another baby! I was barely holding it together as it was. That whole weekend that thought would not leave my head, and I kept on telling it to go away. Finally after a couple of days, I was having almost a non-stop bombardment of thoughts of baby. So I decided to talk to my husband about it. He was surprised, but said well let's pray about it together. We did and we both felt like yes we were supposed to have another baby. As I was kneeling in prayer I said to Heavenly Father, "but how can I do this! I have such a hard time when I am pregnant? I have this 18 month old that is draining the life out of me physically and emotionally! I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old to take care of! How can I do this?" And the answer that came back was, "this child that will come into your family will bring balance to your family. Just like you did with your family." (A story there, but to make it short...my mom was told by the Spirit that same thing about having me, and I did bring balance to my family) So after hearing that I had confidence that everything would be alright. (Now my alright and God's alright were two totally different things) I got pregnant like 2 weeks later and it ended up being my worst pregnancy. But we had our little Andrew with bright red hair.
Andrew was an amazing baby! He ate well, slept well, rolled over on time, crawled on time and walked on time, happy all the time. He was just this awesome little baby.....until he was about 18 months old. Since Matthew is autistic and has a severe speech disorder I was very acutely paying attention to Andrew's development. He was making good eye contact and physically developing just great. But he wasn't speaking at all, not responding to sounds, and fiercely independent. So I called up Early Intervention and got him into services of Speech Therapy by 18 months old. We were actually concerned that he had a hearing problem (not autism). So we went through the whole array of hearing tests. He failed a few, got tubes in his ears, and then still had inconclusive results. So we had to do a sleeping hearing test to get very accurate results. That was a nightmare experience which I could write a short story on, but the results came back: Perfect hearing! We were devastated. What perfect hearing? Then why can you scream at the top of your lungs right next to him and he doesn't respond?
Here is a sort of paraphrased conversation I had with his ENT.
ENT: "His ears work just fine, but it's not connecting in the brain. You should get him tested for Autism."
Me: (in my head AUTISM????) "No I have a child with autism. He isn't anything like him."
ENT: "Well there are lots of forms of autism. I would be happy to help you out with whatever referrals you need. Have a great day!"
And I walk out of the office feeling completely confused and deflated.
Then the inner battle began. I was trying to figure out how could he be autistic? He developed physically just fine, he makes eye contact (at least he used to...), he CAN'T be autistic God promised me ANDREW would be balance to this family, not more stress! And so on and so on. I had a lot to learn about myself and my expectations in life (and especially that balance and stress are not the same thing). To kind of wrap up Andrew's story to his diagnosis. I did a bunch of research and still didn't think Andrew was autistic but instead I thought he had a processing disorder. He very much reminded me of a friend's little boy when he was Andrew's age (so I talked to his mom and sure enough he has a processing disorder). So I thought: I'm not waiting 9 - 12 months for a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician! If he has a processing disorder then he needs to see a Pediatric Neurologist. And so that is the route we went. About 20 minutes into our appointment the Neurologist told me, Andrew is autistic. I said well what about a processing disorder. And he said well processing disorders now fall under the umbrella of autism. He was very impressed with Andrew and said that he is going to accomplish great things in life. I left that appointment kind of stunned. And trying to figure out what do I do next? By the way, at this point Andrew just turned 3! 18 months of trying to figure it out.
How did I feel then? Confused and sort of annoyed that I had 2 kids with autism. And then the questions and concerns for the future started bombarding my head. But we had an answer and it gave us a little bit of clarity as to what was going on in Andrew's head.
I will share more of our adventure with Andrew in a different post, but that is how we found out we had not 1 but 2 children with autism. And so the journey continues.