Today I attended the most beautiful baby shower. Mum to be was glowing, the smiles and laughs were flowing. Everything was as it should be. I took such pleasure in seeing the excitement (and a little apprehension) flicker in the first time mummy’s eyes.
It took me back, almost four years exactly. I can’t say I was blissfully pregnant, in fact it was a pretty horrendous experience due to health complications and extended hospital stays. But nevertheless I had that same excitement, that same twinkle in my eye. Because whilst I was aware somewhere in my subconscious that any multitude of things can happen once you’re a parent, you just assume it isn’t going to happen to you.
Now towards the end of my pregnancy there were further complications and my mind did start to wander. What if there was a problem with the birth? What if the baby had suffered due to my (very necessary) treatment during the last 9 months? But the one thing I was never prepared for, the one thing that never even entered my mind, was autism.
Seems crazy now as I’m so familiar with that word. I use that word comfortably when other people can quite literally recoil at the sound of it. Sometimes I question myself as to whether I’ve actually said “Voldemort” instead of autism, waiting for someone to say “don’t say that name!!!”.
I look back and I think, was I just naive to have never considered autism as a pathway I may experience in life? No I don’t think I was. What if I wasted my life worrying about the day I get cancer. Or the day we become bankrupt. I would have lost all those precious days of hope, blissful ignorance and fun.
I often wonder, how would I feel back then, during my own baby shower, if I knew the autism path my son would have to navigate. Would I feel sad? Deprived of a typical parenting experience? Jealous of other parents? Do you know what? Yes. I would feel all of those things. Very deeply. But what I would also feel is excitement. Excitement for the day my son finally said the word “mummy”. The day he looked me deep in the eyes and I knew that was a sign of love.
Because whatever parenting path you walk with your child, whether you stumble, fall or fly, it is your path. An experience like no other. I’ve spent many days, weeks, fearful of our path. I have dreaded taking the wrong turning. But today when I saw the beauty and glow of the first time mum to be, it reminded what a gift parenthood is. And how privileged I am to have been given a chance to help guide this little dude through his (quite frankly) harder path than some, easier path than others.
It’s taken nearly two years, but autism, I’m ready for you. Throw at me what you can. Because I’m finally in a place where I can take you on.
Thanks for reading,