What do I remember about O's early years? Misery. Heartache. Guilt. I am so grateful for the photos I took during that time, because through them, I am able to see that he and I really did smile. There were good moments. Unfortunately, when I think about that span of time, before O was 15 months, and before we switched from being in "it's happening to me" mode to "I have something to do about this" mode, I still feel overwhelmed!
It was a dark time for me after O was born. I remember loving him so much, yet wishing that I hadn't decided to have a third child. That still sounds awful. I don't think I uttered those words but a handful of times, and writing them here is difficult, but honest. I was never in such a place that I thought of hurting him or myself, but I did live daily with this duality, of love and regret.
How do you cope with the feeling that what you're doing, that the way you know to take care of your own child, is wrong? It's true that every child is different. Can't treat each of them the same. But, O was so different from the girls. There was so much more crying, an inability to sleep on his own, and discomfort with so many "baby" things (like bathing, changing his diaper, etc).
I had always wanted a son. I will even admit to being a little bit disappointed when both girls were born. A girl, really? I got over the disappointment quickly. But, when I found out I was having a boy, I was beyond thrilled! Not sure why. I just knew it was meant to be.
Maybe that's why it was so hard...when it wasn't going well. When I would spend nights moving from my bed, to the rocking chair, to the couch, to standing, back to bed. Exhausted. Sad. Frustrated. Regretful. Then, of course, guilty. Here was my boy, who I wanted so much, who I couldn't care for, at least that's how it seemed.
Debbie Alsdorf, a Christian writer and speaker for women, said, "Where you are today is where God has you today. You are where [He] wants you to be." I wish I could have heard that in 2008. Although, I probably wouldn't have been ready to listen then.
Why this story? Why now? October was Sensory Awareness Month. And, although I didn't have a label for it then, it was there. But, I didn't know better, at least at first. Although, I'm not in that place anymore, it is a part of my journey. This is my way of giving back, of spreading awareness. Sharing my story, the whole story, from the beginning.
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