Backstory: I was a young woman recently out of college reconciling with a boyfriend who had recently dumped me when we were surprised with a very unexpected pregnancy. After a quick court house wedding seven months pregnant, we moved out of his parents house and into a rental town home, had a couple baby showers and welcomed a daughter into the world with barely two nickels to rub together.
We were young, overwhelmed, clueless, and broke. I brought home a 7 lb, 2 oz little girl to a small two bedroom rental in Baltimore city and started the journey of motherhood with no support system, no friends with babies, no idea what I was doing. Just when I got to the point where I could actually venture bravely outside of the house, things took a dramatic turn. At 16 weeks of age, my perfect little girl had her first grand mal seizure. This tonic-clonic convulsion raged through her for 75 minutes straight. I had to give her mouth-to-mouth as a police officer who happened to live next door to me raced me to the closest hospital. It was the first time I ever experienced a nightmare while awake in my life.
Our baby went into status epileptus again two months later, then again two months after that. Her seizures came more frequently, always long and very dramatic resulting in lengthy hospitalizations and most likely brain damage.
The first two years were a blur... Neurologists, EEGs, medications, CAT Scans and MRIs, tests, tests, and more tests.... Lather, rinse, repeat. Answers, but no answers. No answers, and just more and more seizures. Then, shortly after her second birthday, after a loss of language and other developmental and social skills, she was diagnosed with mild to moderate cognitive impairments and Autism. The life of "normal motherhood" took a gigantic U-turn and was filled with therapies, early intervention, and doctor's visits instead of playdates and parties, pre-schools and storytime at the library.
During her first eight years of life I continued with my pre-motherhood plan of attending graduate school to obtain a degree in Clinical Psychology. I embarked on this rigorous, full-time, 5 year doctoral program with faith that I could "do it all" while simultaneously navigating the special needs waters. I couldn't do it all without a cost - nearly my sanity. But, I did it.
During these five years my husband and I separated and eventually divorced, as unfortunately most couples do when they marry because they are knocked up. I spent a few years as a single, working mom, eventually finished my doctoral dissertation years after I was supposed to have graduated, found love with my true soul mate, and finally remarried when my daughter turned 8 and started a new life with the best part of my old.
My husband and I have since welcomed three little girls over the course of three years which was enough mayhem to make me quit my career and stay home full time. Lets face it, it would have to be one heck of a job to pay for all that day care... not to mention my own therapy to save the shred of sanity I had left!
My life is nothing I thought it would be and everything I've ever imagined. I straddle two worlds; the typical world with three of my daughters and the less typical world parenting a significantly disabled young adult. Juggling these two worlds is complicated, but I've always been one for a challenge.