Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Questions No One Asks

I can understand why no one would want to broach the subject, but I just want to say, it's okay.

It's okay to ask. Or, even if it's not the kind of question you would ask someone, I'm here to say I don't mind talking about it.

Since we've found out about baby #3, I'm sure someone has wondered: What would you do if you had another child with special needs? Is this something you worry about? How do you deal with the fear? How would you cope?

These are complicated questions, and any parent of a special needs child out there would probably have different answers. I can only speak for myself. And I will be as honest and open as I can be.

Of course I've pondered these questions. Anyone who's had a special needs child would. These are the very issues that stop many parents from having any more children, and I completely understand their concerns. Juggling a baby with the needs of other children, including the additional attention someone with special needs may need...wondering how you would ever have it in you to care for more than one child with challenges...these are weighty issues.

In our case, there's also no denying that there isn't some genetic component to autism. No, unfortunately there is no "autism gene" like cystic fibrosis that would give one a clear percentage chance of having a child with the condition. But as I look at my brother and at Ethan, I know the genetic links are there. Add to that the fact that I definitely fall into the advanced maternal age pregnancy category (hate these terms!), and that introduces a whole host of other possibilities to be concerned about.

Except I'm not. That much.

Something happened to me after wasting a whole pregnancy worrying about something that wouldn't have been detected by a test even if I'd had one. Something happened to me after I realized I could agonize over worst-case scenarios, have one actually happen, and then have it not be at all what I expected it to be.

It's not that I don't experience worry or fear. It's that it doesn't drive me. It's not that I'm naïve enough to say, "there's no way I would have to go through that again." It's more like a still, small voice that whispers in the background It'll be okay. No matter what.

But how can I know that? How can I really feel that? What if I had a child with severe autism, with a host of challenges? No one wants to talk about these things, but these are the things that you HAVE to talk about, you have to entertain before having another.

I'm no saint. I won't hand out platitudes like, "God would only give me what I could handle." I honestly don't know. Of course it would be hard. Of course I'd still want to know why.

But no matter what, I can't stamp out the flame. There's that flicker of hope there that didn't exist before. It's not a reassurance of no troubles. That's how I used to foolishly treat my faith, growing up with wrong thinking, or a wrong interpretation of what I heard at church or in Sunday school. I thought faith was my good luck charm, my rabbit's foot to ward off anything bad. Now I know it's more like a lifeboat in a raging river. It's what I cling to and what keeps my head above water during difficult times. We don't always escape trouble...sometimes we still have go through, not around. But not alone. Never alone.

And so here I am. Not certain of anything except this one thing: It will be okay. Somehow. No matter what happens, life rarely turns out to look the way you thought it would. We have to keep moving ahead, sometimes without being able to see the next steps. Children, special needs or not, are a risk. Life is risk.

I'm not faulting anyone else's decision. But we are moving forward...without expecting the worst or assuming perfection, but with arms wide open, for whatever comes our way.

1 comment:

truthinlove said...

Another awesome post. Great perspective.