Having a baby changes everything. At least, that's what Johnson and Johnson told me when I saw that second pink line pop up.
I was twenty.
I was twenty years old and in an abusive relationship.
I have two alcoholic parents, one of whom (my mother), at the time, hated me. Our relationship now is much different, so for those of you who read my blog, the person she is now is not the person she was when I was a child. She's forgotten that she hated me for most of my life, but she did.
I am as much at peace with that as I can be. It's not a shocking thing anymore, it simply is.
When I found out that I was having a son, I realized that I had to make things right for him. Perhaps you were a much more mature twenty-year old than I, but my five-year plan is still "eat as many Uncrustables as possible" so back then it was mostly a string of garbled numbers, question marks and symbols. In a short period of time, I moved home, scrapped my plans for medical school in favor of nursing school and prepared to become a mother.
When my son was born, all that I heard was an incredulous, "Wow, you really do love that baby!?" which means I clearly need to play a hell of a lot more poker. Of course I loved my son. He was all I had.
I worked hard for us. I went back to work on the weekends while I went back to school during the week, and always the overachiever, I made sure to beat my A's with A+'s.
It was there, though, that my happy rosy picture began and ended. My mother constantly sniped and undercut me. My son's father belittled me. The two of them hated the other; each in my ear pitted against the other like cage fighters, "Your mom is so abusive/Ben's father is constantly manipulating you..." Around and around they'd go.
What they failed to see was that they were each doing precisely the same thing to me.
And my son, my big-eyed son, the one that I endured it all for, instead of running away to do something; anything else, my son...my son couldn't stand me either.
It took me years to admit that.
Years of being rejected at home. Years of being a lone wolf. Years of being my own ally. Years of raising myself. Years of being the only person I could count on.
And finally, I gave up my one shot of freedom, my one chance to try to get out, and I have a child who I changed my life around for and then I have this child who won't let me hold him. This child who screams all the time. This child who doesn't want his mother.
The rejection was fierce. Because I loved my son. That baby did change everything. That baby also changed nothing.
Two years later, when Ben was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, I felt nothing but relief.
I wasn't sad. I wasn't unhappy. I didn't think about how hard this would be. Hell, I'd already bought the kid a membership to the Planetarium, bought him a mini-NASA costume, and made a zillion tiny solar-system dioramas with him. I'd met him on his level. A diagnosis, I could handle that.
Plus, a diagnosis meant that it wasn't that he didn't love me.
Because I'd never stopped loving him all those times I'd had to stand above his crib (not holding him, no, never!) crying because I couldn't comfort him the way his mobile did. That love never stopped when he'd chosen my mother as His Person (His Second Person is The Daver) rather than me, although, I admit, that is something that still hurts me tremendously. I'd never stopped loving him. Ever.
I don't see autism when I look at Ben. I see Ben. Ben is my son and he loves me in his own way. I have to accept that the rejection I feel is my own problem, not Ben's.
When I had my second son, all I prayed for was that this baby would love me. And he does. My second son is a great gooey ball of love. Alex has unlocked Ben's heart in a way no one else can. His sister has unlocked Ben's heart even further.
That baby, born nine years ago, he did change everything. He changed it all for the best.