To my Johnny,
I can see it now; The chaos, the fear, the love, the moment you entered the world.
It was 10:31pm and the room was full. Nurses and staff running about, Dad, Grammy and your Aunt Shauna cheering with joy, machines beeping and a baby crying.
In a strangely unceremonious way you were laid down on my chest facing away from me, curled up in the only position you had ever known. I remember trying to ask if I could see your face and it going unheard. I felt like we were the center of attention but ignored all at the same time.
In a way you were a stranger to me, but also part of me. A bizarre feeling. I remember, more than anything, feeling for you and wanting to protect you but afraid of doing something wrong. You were so small and fragile, I almost wanted to panic.
I was now responsible for another life, for a whole human being. The previous worries about the right name, crib, location, etc all seemed silly and rightfully trivial.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, late at night. You and I sat in a different hospital bed and dad was asleep on the other side of the small room. I had just finished nursing you and you were wide awake. This was the moment. You and I one on one for the first time, the moment I fell in love.
It sounds cheesy and made up, but I swear in that very moment while staring at each other it began to snow. I have always loved the snow, especially at night. As I turned my head and watched it gently fall past the parking lot lights, I felt the most beautiful feeling of peace and love. It sealed the deal that you were mine and I was yours, for the long haul.
Now here we are at six. So much has changed. You are your own person and I am your person. The element of autism has defined our life. It’s a part of you. It makes you beautifully unique, but also so much more complicated.
Some days I feel like it comes between us and other days it strengthens our bond. The thing about you being autistic is that it’s changed everything about what I thought parenting would be. It’s changed me for the better and more importantly you’ve made me better.
We have meltdowns, speech barriers and delays. Our world has become evaluations, IEP meetings, explanations and appointments. So many appointments.
I constantly worry for you. Worry you will get hurt, lost, bullied or scared. I worry most about your future.
I’m so scared for what’s to come in your life. Some days I feel like we’ve walked through fire and I want to give up and scream “why?!”. There are times I actually do… but each time I learn. I learn more about you and how to help. I see you and how much harder life is for you than other kids. I know how hard you fight.
I love you more than I ever knew I could. When you laid on my chest as a brand new baby, I felt unworthy. I couldn’t immediately connect and it wasn’t how I had imagined. It took a little bit of time just like everything else in our life.
All these years later, at the end of a meltdown, a hard day, a day full of no’s and can’ts, I know you and I can take it back to one. You and me kid.
I hold you in my arms and we look into each other’s eyes. Then I remember the promise I made that snowy day in a hospital bed to the one day old baby I just fell in love with. You are mine and I am yours, forever.
I love you.