Struggle and Strength.

Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.  Oprah Winfrey 

From the time I knew I was pregnant, I was both joyous and afraid.  I was so excited to have this precious little life inside me.  Carrying my baby boy was the hardest and best thing I have ever done.   Each day I would read the updates on his growth.  Every day I would wait for the moment that he would kick, hiccup or communicate with me that he was there.

As the days got closer to full term, I became very ill.  In antepartum three times, I learned the third was “the charm”.  The doctor came in after blood work was run and told me, “We have to take the baby now, or you are both going to die.”  And thus, afraid as I was, my child made it into the world with a bang and kept me along for the ride.

After my son was born, he started to lose weight.  He was not “latching”.  I was still seriously ill.  My child was put on some “weight gainer” formula even though he was born at 7 pounds and 10 ounces, 20 days before his due date.  Again, I was afraid.   He not only gained it back in a week, he stayed in the 99th percentile for his age and growth from that time forward.  And I recovered.

My son had trouble breathing.  At 2.5 years old, he had pneumonia and was diagnosed with asthma.  I was terrified.  He was tested, medicated, treated.  On asthma medication, for the first time in his little life, he started sleeping through the night.  The fear subsided.  He grew stronger again.

When he was 3.5 years old, his pediatrician finally said the word “autism” to me and made it hit home.  The blow was devastating.  I was afraid of so many things.   I struggled to get him tutors, doctors, teachers and therapists.  He worked so hard.  More than any child should have to work.  And he has gained knowledge and understanding.  He’s grown stronger in so many ways.

Our neurologist wanted to check for seizures by use of an EEG.  I was afraid.  We did it.  Seizures were found.  I was afraid. Medication could cause a reaction.  His liver could be harmed.  He could react badly.  He could be allergic.  We made decisions and he awoke to new things and a stronger mind.

But he still has autism.  And I still have fear.  And both he and I must face fear every day, in different ways and conquer it, again and again.

It is not easy to carry a label.  Having the label alone sets one apart.  It makes you different.  Differences are noticed.  They stand out.  And when differences are not understood, they are ridiculed.  People are hurt.

To carry a difference is to carry a badge that can subject you to emotional wounds and pain that can cut as deep as any knife.  As a mother, my job is to protect my son from all those potential wounds.  And my fear is that I cannot always do that.

To conquer that fear, I have to shine the badge on the differences autism brings.  I am a pusher.  I push the understanding of autism on others.   If it works?  Then, when autism is seen in my son, it will not cause him to stand out.  Instead of seeing him for a person with a disability, people will see who my son is.   He can stand out for what he excels at, whether it be playing a video game, reading, spelling, painting a picture, catching a ball, playing an instrument or solving string theory in physics and winning the Nobel Prize.

Always in adversity is fear.  And coming out of adversity is knowledge and strength.  No matter what the hurdle is that must be faced, we will always be afraid.  We will always work through that fear to the other side, because we must.  And when we do, we are smarter, we are stronger and we have conquered what we did not know we had the courage to conquer.  And we learn how amazing we really are.

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection.  Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.   Leonardo da Vinci

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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13 Responses to Struggle and Strength.

  1. Karla (Mom2MissK) says:

    Hi there! I really wanted to comment yesterday with my excitement and delight at your having seen some improvements in T. What wonderful news!!!!

    I totally agree with your post today – although I know I need to start to “suck it up” when it comes to my own fears and see if I can get some more help for my Little Miss. You continue to be an inspiration to me!

  2. blogginglily says:

    worry is my constant companion now that I’m a father. I don’t like him either.

  3. Julie says:

    http://uppercasewoman.com/2011/11/01/10-ways-to-fight-fear-from-gloria-steinem/

    A dear personal friend of mine just posted this and while it was based on a feminist point of view, the topic is still relevent…. fear. {{{hugs}}}

  4. Lana Rush says:

    Karen, once again I am awed by your eloquence. I’ll admit that, for me, fear and worry are sometimes two of the biggest motivators around. I think I’ve accomplished more good because of those two “negative” emotions than anything else I’ve ever done.

    • solodialogue says:

      Aww, you are so sweet Lana! Sometimes (most times) my heart speaks better than my head. We all know the fear (our struggle) that makes us stronger! Fear and worry are some kind of motivators though!!

  5. Flannery says:

    Anxiety every day, over things I can’t ultimately control. Guess there’s another thing we parents have in common!

    Have you come across anything about asthma and autism? I find it interesting that so many of the kids share that link. Connor had a bout of bad eczema at 8 months, then diagnosed with asthma at 12 months. Wonder what it means that so many have similar issues.

    • solodialogue says:

      It is strange. You, me and Lizbeth all have boys with asthma. I have not read about it but always have suspected that the oxygen deprivation at some stage has played a role…

  6. danidawn says:

    There was a writer I discovered when I was first diagnosed with cancer Sheri Dew. The name of one of her books is “If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard”. That book helped me understand that we are given hardships & fears to overcome in this life to become better stronger people. Our children with special needs must be precious souls entrusted to us to raise. This is no easy task. It’s filled with heartache, tears and joy. I think after al is said and done we will be successful in raising our special children to be the best adults they can be. Life is not perfect & neither are we.

  7. ElizOF says:

    Always in adversity is fear. And coming out of adversity is knowledge and strength.
    You said it so beautifully Karen. Your post is powerful, poignant, touching and heart-crushing… Yet, through it all, your strength shines. I won’t use the usual platitudes but I mus say, you are a precious woman and a great soul… I’m happy to call you a friend.

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