“What if?” I voiced the question to my husband for the first time after my son had the seizure. “What if he isn’t ok?”
The “what if” questions had been torturing me for the last 24 hours. At last we had the baby we had been waiting for, but it wasn’t anything like I had pictured. A natural birth had turned into an emergency c-section. Visions of cuddling my newborn at home turned into daily visits to the NICU. I kept repeating to my husband, “What if? What if he’s cognitively delayed? What if he never comes home? What if something is wrong with our baby?”
My husband’s words sustained me through the next couple of weeks, “What if?” Simply parroting the question back allowed me to look inside for the answer, what if? Would we stop loving him? Would he stop being our son? No. We would still love him. He would still be our son. Day by day, we would deal with whatever life handed us and we would be thankful for the wonderful gift God had given us.
Two weeks after I gave birth to my first born, I was able to take him home. At last I could count his fingers and toes in peace. I could really get to know him and fall in love with him. I couldn’t stop kissing his soft baby skin. He was really mine and he was really home. But at the back of my mind lurked the question, “What if? ” What if the seizures come back? What if something is wrong that I missed? What if?
My questions were laid to rest as day by day he grew and I grew to love him even more. He was hard to put to sleep, but weren’t all babies? He liked constant motion, but didn’t all babies? Since he was my first born, I didn’t know what to look for, I didn’t know what to expect. The neurologist said he was healthy and took him off the seizure medicine. His pediatrician said he was healthy. When I looked into his eyes, I knew he was perfect. But something inside kept asking, “what if?”
Twenty one months after my first born, I gave birth to my second son. My life was filled with diapers, messes, and sloppy kisses. To tell the truth, I didn’t have time for any “what ifs?” Even if I did, the doctors assured me he was fine. I knew he was, he was perfect in my eyes. But something seemed different.
The day came when I was able to send my first born off to preschool. I was very excited for a little break. However, preschool was not smooth sailing. Repeated calls and notes from the teacher became the new norm. Then, they told me they had used a weighted vest on him. I was horrified, it sounded like a medieval torture device. When I googled “weighted vest,” I was even more horrified. The word “autism” kept repeating. I knew he didn’t have autism, he was very friendly and talkative. Yes, his conversation wasn’t always appropriate and he didn’t seem to know how to interact with his peers, but his pediatrician was adamant that he didn’t have autism. When I began to discuss the issue with my friends, I was surprised when one of my friends asked the same question my husband had, “what if?”
The question began rattling around in my head, “what if?” Would we love him any less? Would he stop being our son? No. We would still love him. He would still be our son. Day by day we would deal with whatever life handed us and we would be thankful for the wonderful gift God had given us. Thus, began the road to diagnosis.
After weeks of tests and waiting, we got the diagnosis: Aspergers (today he would be diagnosed as high functioning Autism). Dealing with the diagnosis has been a challenging journey. We have good days and bad days. I still ask myself, what if? What if he doesn’t succeed? What if I go crazy when our strong wills clash? My answer is always the same, we will still love him. He is our son and he is just the way God made him. We wouldn’t exchange him for anything. Day by day we deal with whatever life hands us and we are thankful for the wonderful gift God has given us.