Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Than Enough.

Dear Anderson,

I have a secret to tell you. When I was younger, before Daddy and I decided to have any children, I dreamed of having a little boy. Oh, I loved little girls, too, but I just knew that I was meant to raise a son. Call it mother's intuition, call it a sixth sense, call it what you want. I knew before anyone else that you'd find your way into my life.

The day I found out you were my boy, that sweet wiggly little peapod on the ultrasound screen, was one of the happiest days of my life. And yet, I wasn't surprised. I knew you were coming long ago...seeing your little flickering heartbeat just restored my faith in what I already knew. You see, in the few years before that day, I'd started doubting myself, doubting you, doubting whether any children would make it into my life. Your Daddy and I wanted you very, very badly, but it just wasn't happening for us. And yet, there you were, right next to your sister--the boy who already held an indescribably special place in my heart.

In the days before you were born, you were all I could think about. What would you look like? Would you tolerate being born prematurely? Would you need to be intubated, or would your lungs be strong, like you had already proved to be? I worried, and I listened to all of your little movements on the monitor. You woke up around 5:30 every morning (you still do!) and wiggled until I woke up. You got hiccups right after I ate breakfast. I felt more connected to you in those last few pre-birth days than anyone else in the world.

When you were born, you were so tiny, so blonde, so cute. You had personality, even as a premature little guy in the NICU. You held those eyes wide open, looked all around, even though you were supposed to still be safe in my belly. The nurses loved you. You sailed through your time in the NICU, and came home right before your due date. You were strong--both in will and body. You walked very early--9 months adjusted!--and you were always so very aware of your surroundings. And your laugh...oh, your laugh. That belly laugh was so contagious. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing I felt when you laughed that big laugh that seemed to come right from the center of your being. I still feel that way, to this day.

I was the first one to know you were different. I knew, and no one else even suspected a thing. The connection we have, you and I--the one that began before you were even conceived--it continues to be strong. You were different, and I felt it. I saw it in your eyes, in the way you experienced the world. I saw how certain songs and sounds got your attention in a way that others never noticed. I watched you become fascinated with how ordinary things work, how things move. Other people thought you were just playing, but I knew it was more than that. It was calming, soothing to you to watch movement.

I have to be honest with you. When I first realized that you had autism--way before anyone else, years before you were diagnosed--I was terrified. I was scared that I wouldn't know how to be your mama. How to meet your needs, help you grow, how to help you navigate the world that was becoming more and more confusing to you. I felt so unprepared, so uneducated, and so uncertain about the future. I worried day and night about you, about us--your family--and how everything would play out.

But Anderson, YOU have eased my fears. Not the books I've read, the research I've scoured, the IEP meetings and conversations I've had with special education teachers--you. You have overcome so much in your short time here. You've overcome speech delays to become an amazing communicator--even if you don't always communicate like everyone else. You consistently find ways to meet any challenge thrown in your path. You work so hard every single day. You are amazing, little boy. The sky is the limit for you! I have no doubt that you will be exactly what you want to be--whether that's an engineer, architect, elevator designer, musician--you will succeed. I know it.

You are also the most lovable, sweet, sensitive boy I know. Your teachers absolutely adore you; every person who works at your preschool knows who you are and goes out of their way to speak to you (and Tofu) when they see you in the hall. You are charismatic and unique and just wonderful, and part of what makes you this way is your autism. So, you'll never hear me say that I hate your autism, you'll never see me show any resentment towards it. It's part of you, and there isn't one tiny cell, one molecule of your body that I don't totally and completely love. If I'm frustrated, it's because I wish the world was different, more prepared for you. If I'm sad, it's because I'm upset that things aren't easier for you. My frustrations are not about your autism, just about how difficult it might make your journey through life.

You and I, we are connected at the heart. You're one of the loves of my life, and I want you to know that you are absolutely, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, the boy I've dreamed of since I dreamed of becoming a mother. You are my dream come true. You are perfect. You are more than enough.


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