This blog post is part of the Flashblog presented by #BoycottAutismSpeaks as part of their #posAutive campaign. Details can be found here.
Love Not Fear
Early on in our relationship my Wonderful Hubby and I agreed that we wanted to have a large family. Our first pregnancy was unplanned, but our daughter was certainly not unwanted. We were young and brave and a little bit naive as we began our journey into parenting. It was a rocky start. We had some tough times.
After 3 years together, we spent some time re-evaluating our priorities and determining our intentions. We decided we wanted to have 6 children, and that we were committed to making sure that as our family grew we would structure our careers, our volunteer activities, our lives so that one of use would always be available to be the primary carer for our children.
Our daughter by 3 years old had grown to be an energetic and creative soul, who seemed to struggle with anxiety but had such a determined spirit and shared her fathers great sense of humour.
We added number 2- a quirky little guy with a winning smile and a happy disposition who hardly spoke and seemed to struggle with sensory input.
Number 3 arrived a non-sleeper who loved intensely and had compassion for others like I've never seen in a toddler.
We were tired, and busy, and still young- so we decided to stop a while and see how we felt about more kids in a few years. Around this time we learned about Autism through a friends journey and became pretty sure that MasterL was Autistic, but fear of what that label would cost him in society led us to put off seeking a diagnosis.
Then there was another unexpected pregnancy. This one ended at 12 weeks with the loss of our little one and the realisation that we had unquestioningly wanted this little life to join our family, even though we were not planning for it. So we began again in our intentional quest for that large family.
Number 4 arrived- a sweet little girl who adored her Daddy, her family and life in general.
It was around this time that Hubby began to noticeably struggle with his mood. We were separated for a few months during this year. I struggled with my fear that him returning to live with the kids and I would be too hard, but love won, and we have not looked back since the time we made our second conscious decision to partner with each other .
Number 5 arrived. A bright and active little girl who so desperately wanted to get into everything, had no sense of danger and experienced significant sensory challenges from the day she was born.
So we paused again to evaluate. Could we support our girl sufficiently if we were also caring for another new baby? Did we have the resources to provide what she and our other children needed if we had a 6th child arriving? The answer was no. MissG, as you regular readers know her, needed my full attention. She needed me to be available to help her navigate the difficult world she was facing. We decided to wait again and see what the next few years brought us.
In the 5 years after MissG joined our family MasterL was diagnosed Autistic, Wonderful Hubby was diagnosed Bipolar, MissG herself was diagnosed Autistic and at 17 years old E was diagnosed Biploar.
People felt sorry for us.
People said how hard our lives were.
People said how brave I was. How strong I was.
I felt sorry for myself sometimes.
I struggled to overcome the feeling of overwhelm I experienced.
I felt anything but brave and strong.
I made the mistake of listening to the mainstream discourse that said my life was difficult and my children were hard and my family was just going to be a statistical casualty in which my Autistic children would grow up to be less-productive-less-happy-less-than than others and my Bipolar family members would not be able to work and would end up committing suicide.
I listened to fear. I felt fear. And for a short while I cultivated fear. I let the "what ifs" rule my life. What if I can't cope? What if others in the family can't cope? What will people think of me having another baby knowing the chances are that child will have a disability? What if a new baby is disabled?
I battled my desire to have the 6th child I so wanted. And then I stopped. Mostly because I was too tired to keep the battling up. Fear was making me tired. Fear was making me stressed. Fear was causing me to worry about things that hadn't happened. Fear was making me my own enemy.
I realised that the diagnoses my family members had received were a gift that gave us power. To know who you are is powerful and empowering. To find your tribe is strengthening. To learn what supports you need to succeed is life changing.
I realised I had been given the key to being what my family needed. The information about who they are is a precious thing. It gives me the knowledge I need to go and find out how best to help my family.
I realised I have the ability to choose fear or love.
And I choose love.
With choosing love comes choosing acceptance.
With choosing acceptance comes peace.
Peace in my heart. Peace in my mind. Peace in the core of my being.
I am content.
I would not change a thing about my life. I would not change a thing about my family.
Oh, there is a lot I would change about the world. But my family is fine just the way it is.
So in the end the choice to fall pregnant again was an easy one. All it involved was love.
Could I love another child? Absolutley.
Could the rest of the family love another child? Without a doubt.
Could I provide support to another child, no matter what that childs support needs were? Yes, and I was, and remain, completely willing to do that for all my children no matter the cost to me.
So Number 6 arrived. A boy. My first Caesaren after 5 natural births! Our biggest baby born at 4.5 kgs (9.9 pounds). A snuggler. A smiler. A joy to us all. All the older children adore him. He adores them.
On his first birthday I was shown a blog I'd not seen before, and I read this.
"..........Autism isn't something that happened to me.
It is something that I chose when I decided to become a
parent, knowing that my child's future was out of my control.
I may not have understood that then, but I do now."
(full article here)
I immediately read it out loud to my Wonderful Hubby, and I bookmarked the blog and copied the quote into this blog post. Because I get what she is saying, and it is true for me too.
There was a point in my life at which if you had told me I would have a Biploar husband and daughter and Autistic children I would have intentionally chosen a different path. Because I didn't know any better. And at that point fear would have robbed me of the wonderful life I have now. At that point I had an idea in my mind of what marriage, relationships, parenting would be like. I know now that no matter who I chose as my life partner and no matter who my children turned out to be that idea was wrong. None of us can predict what our lives will be like. None of us know when we choose to have children who those children will be and what will happen in their lives. It is a risk every single time.
My first 5 children were born before we officially knew the names of the challenges our family would have. My 6th child was born when we did know. As it turns out, the decision to have him in our family was just as easy as all the others. Because we made it from a place of love not fear.
Yes. I choose love.
Every. Single. Time.